In the year 2000 the Tartu Early Music Festival is already five years
old. This year we are also offering interesting concerts and performances.
For the first time in Estonia you can hear music from ancient Greece and
China, watch the 10th-century religious drama Abraham by Hrotsvit
of Gandersheim and the 5th-century (BC) comedy The Birds by Aristophanes.
The main themes of this year’s festival (the early culture and music
of the Naxi people and that of ancient Greece) are represented by Lijiang
Naxi People's Ancient Music Performing Group (China) and Conrad
Steinmann’s group (from Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, Switzerland)
playing ancient Greek music.
The group playing the early music of the Naxis is affiliated to the
Naxi Early Music Institute, which studies the early music of the Naxis,
a small nation living in South China. The early music of the Naxi nation
is remarkable because it has retained three of the four traditional
genres of traditional Chinese music and from the point of view of early
music development it is extremely interesting to follow what has taken
place parallelly during the same period of time in various parts of the
world (the group plays music from the 8th to the 14th centuries AD, a period
which is referred to as the Middle Ages in the European tradition. The
group is accompanied by the director of the Institute and the leader of
the group Prof. Xuan Ke.
Conrad Steinmann teaches at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis
and he is one of the very few specialists who has found time in addition
to his busy teaching schedule to reconstruct old Greek instruments and
perform on them.
The Danish early music group ALBA has been to Tartu several times
before. This year they perform the songs of the famous German minnesinger
Rumelant which have an interesting connection with the royal Danish
court. The minnesingers were a restless lot and probably it is not too
far-fetched to suppose that they may have passed through Estonia…
For the second time running we are happy to welcome the group Laterna
Magica from Russia who charmed the festival audiences last year with
their lively and immediate performance. This year they are going to sing
and play medieval French and Spanish music.
This year there are no Estonian groups among the main performers at
the Festival but several of them have already performed at Cathedral concerts.
This series of concerts started in January 2000 and the main objective
is to raise money for the conservation of the ruins of the Cathedral on
Toome Hill as well as to offer regular concerts which follow the profile
of the Tartu Early Music Festival.
The Tartu Early Music Festival has from the start been an interdisciplinary
event, but it has not always been possible to include performances of historical
plays. This year we can offer two premieres: Abraham by Hrotsvit
of Gandersheim and The Birds by Aristophanes which provide a kind
of symbolic framework for the festival. The comedy of Aristophanes dates
from the period of flowering of ancient Greek culture in the 5th century
BC. In the following centuries the art of drama fell into a gradual decline
which culminated in the banning of theatrical activity in the 5th century
AD. After this Hrotsvit of Gandersheim is one of the first authors who
has tried to imitate their noble and attractive style, adjusting it to
the Christian subject matter.
We also offer lectures and workshops and the Festival Café is open at
the University Old Café. Twice there will be midnight concerts at the Observatory,
also there will be traditional joint music making at the concluding ball.
We hope you will enjoy the festival!
artistic director of the festival