Why is it that a small country like Estonia has such a mighty presence in a city as large as Toronto?
Piret Noorhani, Chief Archivist at the Estonian Studies Centre, believes she has figured this out, and she shared her insights at the launch of Estonian Music Week and the Latitude 44 technology conference held at Tartu College on May 9.
“An Estonian never leaves anyone guessing where they come from,” she said. “We are very proud of our heritage and what our culture represents.”
This pride will be on full display this fall in Toronto as both the technology and music from our richly diverse Baltic country will be shared through Latitude 44, a conference aimed at bringing together key players in the technology world from Estonia and Canada and Estonian Music Week (EMW).
The conference will take place November 14 and 15 at the WE Global Learning Centre and Estonian Music Week will be held November 14 – 17 at various venues throughout the city.
“Estonian culture is booming, and so is the technology sector,” she said. “It makes good sense to bring the two together. The result will be incredible.”
EMW’s music director Toomas Treumuth is excited about this year’s lineup, and is hard at working lining up the acts. He attended Tallinn Music Week in Estonia and heard some amazing musicians. He’s particularly enthusiastic about Ensemble U, who will present a “virtual reality concert”, which fits well with the tech theme taking place at the conference.
Also confirmed is Puuluup, an ensemble that was recently voted best new folk group in Estonia.
Toomas and Toronto businessperson Tom Koger are working on expanding the reach of Estonian music in other year-round ventures. For example, renowned Estonian jazz performer Kadri Voorand will join forces with Toronto jazz artist, the Juno award-winning singer Laila Biali. This concert will take place on November 29 at the Jane Mallett theatre in Toronto.
They have started a musical Culture Club, and are encouraging people to join by purchasing memberships that will enable members to see four concerts annually, complete with VIP perks. For more information, go to (add URL).
On the tech side, conference organizer Eric Morrison, former vice-president of CTV News and past president of Canadian Press, is working with the Estonian community both in Toronto and in Estonia to bring the best and brightest minds together.
The conference is receiving support from the Estonian Studies Centre, the Estonian Foundation of Canada and the Estonian Credit Union. Close links have been made as well with Estonia’s tech conference Latitude 59, taking place the week of May 14 with over 3,500 delegates. Eric is attending the conference to make connections for the Toronto event.
“Estonia has both world-class music and world-class technology,” Eric said. “It has the coolest, hippest tech sector in Europe with 99% of government services on line. It’s a true digital society, with newborns getting their ID number for life. “
Toronto is a very strong tech centre as well. Over $3.5 billion in tech deals took place in Canada last year, the majority of which happened in Toronto. Bringing the two countries together to make connections will be very rewarding, Eric explained.
Joining Eric as presenters and interviewers at the conference will be Bruce Croxon, a well-known digital entrepreneur and partner in Round13 Capital and Amanda Kanwar, anchor of The Open and The Disruptors on the BNN Bloomberg network.
On the second day of the conference, those who work in e-government initiatives in Canada will be invited to attend to learn about how to digitize public services. Young people with Estonian roots who work in or are interested in technology are invited to attend.
Ellen Valter, Chair of the Steering Committee for the new International Estonian Centre, also spoke at the launch. She said that technology connections will be encouraged and nurtured at the new centre’s business accelerator space. The IEC is scheduled to open in 2021 in downtown Toronto, next to Tartu College on Madison Avenue.
Providing a gorgeous musical note to the launch evening with an original piece was performer Kaili Kinnon, fresh off an Estonian and European tour. Kaili said the connections she made at last year’s EMW were invaluable, and she is collaborating with Estonia’s Avarus Ensemble on some new work.
More information on the full lineup of musicians for EMW will be announced this summer, which will include a range of genres from ethno to classical to rock and electronic.
For more information, please go to:
By Karin Ivand, Toronto