As it turned out five minutes after overhearing a worried conversation by the front desk there was no case for concern – it wasn’t so important to figure out, which floor the opening act of the event took place exactly, as Pavel Tšeretšukin’s and Paša Semjonov’s environmental electronic impro „Hämaruse varjus“ (“In the Shadow of Darkness”) could be heard anywhere in the atrium cutting through all the floors. The lights were lowered to the minimum and the performers had set up their equipment consisting of several synthesisers, computers, and other sound gear introvertly on a narrow indoor balcony, facing the empty space rather than the audience. The listener could follow them from the side or, as many did, close their eyes and focus on the sounds in one of the comfortable places in the atrium. As I visit this building rarely, I preferred to walk up and down the stairs and examine how the gently amplified drone spiced up with sunnily high and pre-recorded nature sounds bounced around in the strange deconstructivist geometry of the postmodernist architecture, potted palms, and Estonian painting classics hanging on the walls, among them the works by Sirje Runge and Andres Tolts. There was also a possibility to ascend along a spiral staircase to an ivory tower with a view, the existence of which I had thus far considered to be a figure of speech regarding academic institutions. The music and the environment melted together seamlessly and set the dreamy mood for the evening.
The event’s ultra chamber-like other movement, the concert of comprovisations, took place in the opera studio, a room the size of about 100 square metres with blackout curtains, which was so full of the audience and performers that some must have been left standing outside with even less hope of finding a seat. Fourteen improvisation students presented the different balances of composition and free improvisation. The means were experimental both in the classical as well as innovative sense – Sänni Noormets’s vocal instrumental work „Neljas ahv“ (“The Fourth Monkey”) used squeaky rubber toys and grotesque stage costumes, pianists Madis Kukk and Jaak Sikk put clothes pegs as well as forks in between the open-top Estonia concert piano’s strings, Anna-Liisa Eller, Theodore Parker, and Ekke Västrik played Alyona Movko’s „Sharps and Brights“ from a visually striking animated score. The emerging sound compositions were stimulating intellectually and occasionally also emotionally. Combining this intensive stimulation with the lack of oxygen and heat in the room, the result could be compared to Salvador Dali’s surreal techniques of feeling and state like her speaker’s shoes two sizes too small or his device consisting of an armchair, pencil, and wash basin designed to prolong the state of half-sleep. Very interesting.
The finale took place in a more traditional concert hall format in the much roomier chamber hall, where EMTA’s sinfonietta consisting of young interpreters played short forms by young composers. It’s possible that I haven’t heard as many premieres of classical music in my life as I did during this one evening (counting in the brochure, more than ten, taking into account the comprovisations). There were very different moods, starting with the Stravinsky-esque dismantling of Johanna Kivimägi’s „Sära“ (“Shine”) to the deformative tragedy of Josh Tasker’s „Clutching at Entropy“. The versatility of what I heard was very pleasant in the moment, but I have to admit that it is difficult to summarise in hindsight due to the accumulation of impressions, or now, a day and a half later, while I’m writing this text, even to recall it exactly.
It was definitely a great event to attend – obligatory to a truehead and broadening horizons for a bystander. I’m very happy to have come upon it. Even the whole musical event aside, the three-hour public event, which has no breaks longer than a couple of minutes and no coffee, cognac, champagne, or beer served, is not an everyday occurrence.