Kelley Sundin, conductor and graduate student at University of Minnesota School of Music, is devoted to understanding and promoting Estonian choral music through an active engagement with the Estonian archival materials in the Immigration History Research Center.
Her more general interest in Baltic music was fuelled and narrowed by the vastness of sheet music manuscripts in the Estonian collection. She quickly went through seven linear feet of material and played hundreds of compositions in her mind, then chose fifty for futher contemplation and ultimately narrowed her selection down to five pieces to work with.
Her Master’s project involves conducting and performing, as well as researching and disseminating her results through publications of performance edition sheet music complete with pronunciation guides, historical context and other relevant and helpful information regarding the compositions. This will provide the wider American and international choral scene with an opportunity of enrichment
through Estonian music.
In addition to purely musical virtues, Kelley perceives the work of some Estonian composers to also have an instrumental value: “These compositions seem to be a great vehicle to teach solfeggio sight-singing, thanks to their harmony and structure. And what could be more perfect than learning to sing through music from a culture where singing is an integral part of society and identity – a culture that is in fact singing.“
Currently, Kelley is preparing for a concert where she is conducting the music she has uncovered and researched, as well as a lecture where she will reflect on her journey from an academic point of view.
Her project was made possible through the support of the Hildegard and Gustav Must Graduate Fellowship in Estonian-American Studies set up at IHRC in 2003 with a gift from the Estonian Archives in the U.S., Inc. Due to various eligibility restrictions for the grant, Kelley Sundin is the first ever applicant to receive it in almost a decade of the grants’ existence.