Faculty leader Kristina Ploeger and co-leader Carolyn Jess traveled with 14 students from the EWU Symphonic Choir and four local high school choir directors to the country of Estonia – specifically, to the cities of Tallinn, Parnu, and Tartu. The group had a life-changing opportunity and experienced the rich historical background of ethnic Estonian music, felt the depth of what music can do for a society as they witnessed this culture first-hand, and were also afforded an environment for their own personal transformation.
Estonia was the perfect place for the music students to extend their learning beyond the classroom as it is where music has literally formed a revolution and transformed an entire country. It is a country of song, and the only country to start and end a nonviolent revolution with song. In 1987, 100,000 Estonians gathered for five days in the Song Festival grounds to protest and eventually, in 1991, separated themselves from the Soviet Union without violence.
Students were able to see and experience a culture where singing is not only a deeply personal expression but also a way of life. Most adults in Estonia take part in one or more choirs during the week. The entire culture is built around singing and dancing. These activities are not just for the cultured few. Singing is part of everyone’s life and appreciated by everyone. Western music, in particular, is of great interest to Estonian choristers.
Students were able to perform in each of the cities during their visit.