Highgate Choral Society, North London

EstoniaFinlandEstonia and Finland 2009

We called it a Holiday of Singing plus Independent Exploration with Guidance. From 23-28 May 2009 we toured Tallinn in Estonia and Helsinki and Tampere in Finland, taking a choir of over 50 plus some supporters, with Ronald Corp and organist Daniel Moult.

We travelled independently so people could add on some days to their holiday and travel north in Finland to see the Midnight Sun or travel east to visit St Petersburg.

The heart of Tallinn is a semi-pedestrianised picturesque old town with ancient walls and many buildings dating from the 16th century. All concert venues and most museums and attractions are within the city walls. We stayed in the Hotel Kalev Spa, adjacent to the city wall and including a spa with an Olympic-sized swimming pool. The harbour boat terminal for Helsinki could be seen from the hotel just a few hundred yards away. Eating out was very reasonable. Until 1991 Estonia was behind the iron curtain but now enjoys independence. Walking around the city, one could almost feel the transformation taking place to a modern European and independent capital.

Helsinki is relatively modern. In 1816 Tsar Alexander commissioned architect Carl Ludwig Engel to rebuild the city. It is laid out in a grid system with wide attractive streets and grand buildings in a Georgian and Victorian style. It now has an efficient yet simple tram, bus and metro transport system. There are several islands just off the coast, and we had a tour party on one of them where we were joined by the Eviva women’s choir of Helsinki.

Tampere is 125 miles north of Helsinki and a 1½ hour train journey away, much of the journey spent travelling through beautiful Finnish countryside of birch forests and lakes. After the evening concert there, it was still as light as daytime; darkness only falls in May from about 11pm.

Sunday 24 May Mass at 10.00am
Kaarli Church, Tallinn
Kodály Missa Brevis
Elgar Give unto the Lord

Sunday 24 May 7.00pm
St Nicholas Church, Tallinn
Kodály Missa Brevis
Fauré Requiem

Tuesday 26 May 7.00pm
Rock Church, Helsinki
Kodály Missa Brevis
Fauré Requiem

Wednesday 27 May
Evening party with Eviva choir on the island of Suomenlinna

Thursday 28 May 7.00pm
Tampere Cathedral
Kodály Missa Brevis
Fauré Requiem