Mingling and rehearsing with local Estonian choirs HUIK! and Veronika Portsmuth Academy Chamber Choir was a highlight of the week for the BYU Singers. They all performed together on Thursday, May 5, at St. John’s Church in Tallinn’s Freedom Square. Among the audience members at St. John’s were local friends, including Ukrainian refugees who attended a previous concert and individuals whom choir members met while exploring the city. One local merchant from a stained glass shop, who had met a group of the Singers the previous day, attended and brought heart-shaped pins for the conductor and students, calling them her “American grandchildren.” Mingling with audience members after the performance was a tender experience for all.
While in Tallinn, the group toured Naissaar Island via off-road military vehicles, adding a bit of thrill to their sightseeing experience. After returning from Naissaar, they visited the Estonian Song Festival Grounds, where a festival is held every five years to commemorate the Baltic Singing Revolution.
On Friday morning, the group traveled by bus to the university town of Tartu. After exploring Tartu for the afternoon, the Singers performed in the university’s stunning assembly hall. A packed audience received the Singers well and hollered in applause. The University of Tartu Chamber Choir made excellent hosts for the evening’s events.
Saturday brought a long bus ride to Ogre, Latvia, where local group Anima Solla hosted a performance in the Ogre Cultural Center. The Singers impressed their audience with a version of “I Am a Child of God” that included a verse in Latvian, and BYU Singers pianist and grad student CJ Madsen amazed with his arrangement of the Latvian national anthem.
The week wrapped up in Riga, Latvia, with a well-attended concert at a local chapel of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Members from the Latvian- and Russian-speaking branches of the Church were joined by other community members. Attendees contributed donations to a local charity benefiting Ukrainian refugees.