15 Jun 2010
Estonian choral success in China
“Estonia and China share the same passion for singing,” said Toomas Tiivel, Commissioner General of the Estonia Pavilion at the Shanghai Expo. Once weekly choral sessions are now a daily event, drawing hundreds of visitors.
Tallinn - Estonia is proud of its musical traditions and now the small Baltic state of just 1.3 million people has scored a surprise hit with China's billions of citizens thanks to its latest quirky export: choir karaoke.
The country's original drive towards statehood owed much to the formation of large folk choirs and its restoration of independence from the Soviet Union in the late 1980s and early 1990s was dubbed the 'singing revolution.'
Every five years in July at the Tallinn Song Festival Grounds, more than 26,000 people come together to sing. These Song Celebrations, which can be dated from 1869, are one of the largest amateur choral events in the world, and were declared by UNESCO a masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
As part of Estonia's presence at the Shanghai 2010 Expo, officials decided to include 'Singing Saturdays' when visitors could experience some authentic Estonian song. But the weekly sessions in the Estonian pavilion at the Expo have been so popular that they are now a daily occurrence with hundreds of visitors crammed into the small space for a singalong.
The whole experience promises reach a new level in July with three Estonian choirs flying to Shanghai to perform live.
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Tallinn will be European Capital of Culture 2011.