The Future is Bright for Estonian Music Week

June 6, 2022

Estonian Music Week (EMW), which has risen to become VEMU’s largest cultural event over the past 4 years, has had an eventful few months with lots of exciting things in store for the near future as well. As we all know, the pandemic brought the world to a screeching halt, including a hard hit to the music industry with live concerts and events being cancelled and repeatedly pushed forward. With most of the restrictions being lifted in February and March, we were finally able to get back to organizing and planning live concerts, something that we had all been missing for 2 years. The turnout and atmosphere at our first concert after the pandemic showed just how much people had been craving to get back to experiencing culture first-hand, the overwhelming feeling of joy at being able to hear live music again was tangible amongst the audience.

That first concert we organized was the famed piano virtuoso Kristjan Randalu, who we were able to have come here in April. Along with local Canadian legendary saxophonist Mike Murley, he brought a night of contemporary and abstract jazz to an audience that was positively starved for live music; after the concert, many could be heard mentioning that the music had been food for the soul and even healing. It took place at the historical Heliconian Club in downtown Toronto which added to the feeling of the concert as a whole, amplifying Randalu’s hark back to his Estonian roots in several songs but bringing that into the here and now, into the modern. The night was very much a success, it gave the EMW team a chance to see the future in a more positive and brighter light and helped breathe new life and energy into our endeavours.

Beginning at the end of March and throughout April, in collaboration with VEMU (Estonian Museum Canada), we organized and ran an exclusive sampling and live remix workshop featuring local professional Estonian-Canadian DJ and turntablist Erik Laar as the instructor. The idea was to not only get youth and young adults interested in music and culture at large but more so to enhance their connection to their Estonian roots through the exploration of our music and culture. 6 lucky participants were able to take a trip down to the VEMU archives, peruse the collection of vinyl records and pick out what sounded interesting to them. Four intensive and intimate classes at Erik’s studio Off Centre DJ School followed the archival trip, where the participants learned to use the digital audio station Ableton Live to create live remixes using samples from the records they had picked. The group had great energy, where support for each other and kindness ran strongly throughout, with everyone bringing their own unique passion and viewpoint of music to the workshop. The recent final performance featured participants performing a 60-90 second live remix of their compositions that exercised creative expression and improvisation on the spot. The workshop was a complete success and both instructor and students mentioned being interested in possible similar future endeavours that would dive more in depth into the nuances of Ableton and sound manipulation. Stay tuned for the video of the final performance coming soon! The project was supported by the Integration Foundation / Estonian Culture Ministry.

Finally, EMW’s creative director Sebastian Buccioni travelled to Estonia at the beginning of May to promote the festival at Tallinn Music Week and forge new connections that will contribute to our future plans as well as help us expand and further our reach to new audiences. Local Canadian artist with Finnish roots, Estyr, was along as an artist ambassador to showcase just what EMW can bring to the table in terms of musicianship and talent. Before travelling to Estonia, Sebastian also spent time at the Jazzahead Festival in Bremen, Germany where new useful connections were also made.

Very shortly, we’re presenting the renowned Estonian choir Collegium Musicale conducted by Endrik Üksvärav in a series of three concerts in Toronto, Hamilton and Ottawa at the end of May and the beginning of June. Get excited, we have a lot of thrilling events and concerts coming up in the future; stay tuned on our social media or via our website ( for more content and announcements!

Kati Kiilaspea