Later on that evening, tech conference participants and presenters, as well as EMW participants and people interested by the festival had the chance to get together at the esteemed and exclusive restaurant Archeo in the heart of the Distillery District for the festival’s opening gala which also served as the transition point from Latitude 44 to EMW. With snow on the ground and the Toronto Christmas Market opening just an hour before the gala was to start, attendees were already in a great mood walking into the venue. The gala event was sold out and was a good opportunity to mix and mingle with businesspeople and musicians from Estonia and Canada, and to rekindle old friendships and make new ones. Piret Noorhani, festival director, had warm welcoming words for everyone present. Young Estonian-Canadian bassist August Riik and his companion Andrew Marzotto on guitar provided a beautiful and sultry backdrop to the festivities while also managing to catch the ears of everyone in the room with their very apparent talent and complexity. These two are musicians that I’m sure will be taking the jazz world by storm very soon. Bringing in a bit of Christmas cheer was a visit by Old Saint Nick himself, who had plenty of prizes and gifts to give out to attendees. As post-dinner entertainment, famed Estonian singer-songwriter Vaiko Eplik took over DJ duties and spun records that many were familiar with, featuring local musicians from our own community such as Peeter Kopvillem and the Lindau Sisters while mixing in others from Estonian communities in Sweden, Australia, and Germany just to name a few. Vaiko’s music choice was mainly comprised of the artists that he complied for his 3 CD collection of music from Estonian diaspora communities from around the world.
Night two of the festival took place at the Artscape Sandbox on November 15th, a new discovery for many but a great and contemporary venue for showcasing musical talent of all kinds. The night was supported by festival sponsor the Estonian Foundation of Canada. The festival’s artistic director Toomas Treumuth had a few welcoming words for the attendees of the concert. The host for the night was none other than Jaymz Bee of Jazz FM and Jazz Safari fame. His charisma and humourous quirkiness were a perfect match for the evening. Stepping up on stage first was Mari Sild, an Estonian who lives and deals with music as a hobby in Montreal. With her flamboyant costume and own definite brand of soul and pop, she caught the attention of all in the room and started off the night with a righteous spark. For those that know of Estonian jazz and soul singer Hedvig Hanson, Mari’s vocals were reminiscent of her in terms of timbre and tone. Her music had various apparent influences, from Latin and African rhythms to rap and funk and was presented in English, Estonian, and French. Next up was a homegrown star from our own community, Kaili Kinnon along with her band. Seeing Kaili a few times, I was amazed to find that already during the first song, her talent and music had blossomed into something even more than before. Talking to Kaili, we discussed what exactly to call her music and both settled on some variant of soul pop. Her voice has an Adele-like power with an added dose of sultriness and soul. Kaili’s music has elements of several genres; soul, pop, funk and RnB. There is an infectious groove in her songs that makes it absolutely impossible not to bop along with. As an added bonus, she had no problems getting the audience to sing along with several of her tunes. As a final performer for the night, the eclectic neo-folk duo Puuluup from Estonia put on a humorous and fun-filled show that caught several by pleasant surprise. They had a delightful and witty sense of humour while also teaching people about the instruments they were using, namely the hiiu kannel or talharpa. Mixing looping technology into their songs created another merging of technology and music for a delightful musical experience. Later on in the set, local talent Eric Soostar and members of the Tiki Collective, Great Bob Scott and Ernie Toller, joined the band on stage for an even more heightened experience.
Night number three of the festival came to a fantastic head with the electronic music wizard NOËP from Estonia bringing people of all ages to a dancing craze at The Hideout on Saturday night. Partnering with Indie Music Week helped bring and introduce the amazing musician to people outside of the Estonian community. This night was a chance for the younger generations of our community to get together and experience contemporary Estonian pop music at its finest. NOËP created an otherwordly electronic soundscape that it was impossible not to get lost in, with his own brilliant vocals adding a whole ohter dimension to the experience. At times it felt as if there was no barrier between the audience and performer, that they had merged into one. The artist created his own little world within the space of the club. The evening was supported by festival sponsor the Estonian Credit Union.
On Sunday, the festival had (too quickly) made it to its final night at one of our community’s homes Tartu College, but what a fitting end for EMW it was. Around the hall were 26 of artist Laani Heinar’s stunning prints of musicians and themes relating to this year’s festival which were also available for purchase. Piret Noorhani, festival director, once again stepped up to the microphone to offer closing remarks and a thank you to sponsors and volunteers for their involvement in the festival. The musical portion started off with another of our local Estonian talents Tiina Kiik performing a piece on the accordion by Estonian-Canadian composer Udo Kasemets written specifically for her, titled “Satan’s Swing (trnsl. Kiik).” The song was based on an optical illusion which became apparent once hearing the piece. The shape of the melody did indeed resemble a swing and the “hellish” part mentioned in the title came out in the strategically placed dissonance throughout the piece. It turned out to be very meditative and mentally stimulating, taking the listener on a journey that the composer intended. Closing out the festival was esteemed Estonian singer-songwriter Vaiko Eplik who has released over twenty albums to date in the span of his career. Vaiko’s ability to tell stories through his music is just amazing. With interesting and captivating chord progressions, he builds and resolves tension in a great way. His immese talent as a vocalist and guitarist is very apparent when listening to his music. With little bits of charm and humour interspersed between the pieces, Vaiko created a cozy atmosphere and fantastic ending to the festival.
It was apparent as to just how the festival has grown and prospered within a year and it will only continue to grow and prosper. The Estonian Music Week team would like to thank all of its sponsors, including VEMU, the Estonian Foundation of Canada and the Estonian Credit Union, Eesti Kultuuriministeerium, Integratsiooni Sihtasutus, Heinsoo Insurance, Toomas Koger, Vaike Külvet, Anita Genua ja Trina Macrae for their support of the festival. A very big thank you also goes to all of the team members without who this would not be possible and the volunteers who helped along with keeping things running smoothly. I think it’s safe to say that everyone is anxiously awaiting the next Estonian Music Week!
Kati Kiilaspea, Toronto
Eesti Elu Nr. 27 - 10. juuli 2020 DIGILEHT
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