The Women’s Choir of the National Library of Estonia
The Women’s Choir of the National Library of Estonia was established in 1991, its 35 singers are staff members and users of the National Library.
National Library of Estonia, Tõnismägi 2, 15189 Tallinn
Kaie Pöial +372 5557 3850, kaiepoial at gmail dot com
The choir’s birthday is on 21 May 1991 when its then 16 singers first came together. The choir was established by Viktoria Jagomägi, a renowned promoter of Estonian women’s singing, who was the choir’s chief conductor until 2009 and since then has been honorary conductor. Today the women’s choir is conducted by Anneli Surva (since 1995) and Mikk Dede (since 2014). During 1991-1995 the choir’s conductors were Anu Tali and Kadri Tali, presently a well-known orchestra conductor and a music manager respectively. 2009-2014 was coductor Kristi Jagodin.
The library’s Women’s Choir has had a brisk concert life, acting as a representative of the National Library in Estonian choral community. The choir has been a traditional entertainer at the library’s festive events (celebrating the Independence Day of the Republic of Estonia, Mother Tongue Day, Mother’s Day, Christmas) and various all-Estonian library conferences. The choir has performed in all best-known Estonian concert halls, travels have taken the singers to other European countries (Lahti and Lapland in Finland, St. Petersburg, Riga, Prague, Vienna, London, Paris, Italy, Aland, and Göteborg in Sweden). Concerts at the New York Estonian Culture Days in 2010 were a memorable highlight.
The repertoire focuses on the choral pieces of Estonian composers, a number of them have specially dedicated their songs to the library’s women’s choir (Veljo Tormis, Piret Laul-Rips, Helika Gustavson, Tiina Kiilaspea and Aare Kruusimäe. In 2007 the choir released its DVD “Singing together”.
The choir’s 21st birthday was celebrated with planting a “song tree” - a red horse chestnut - in the park behind the National Library building.
The National Library’s Women’s Choir is a member of the Estonian Women’s Song Society, performing at the Society’s singing days and other concerts. Since 1994, the choir has attended all Estonian Song Celebration Festivals.
Rehearsals are held twice a week, preparing the choir for the average annual 15 concerts and performances.
Anneli Surva (born 1965) is a choir conductor and music educator. She graduated from the Tallinn State Conservatory (presently Estonian Music and Theatre Academy) in 1988 as choir conductor (in the class of Professor Ants Üleoja). For nearly 30 years Anneli Surva has worked with the Women’s Choir “Ilo”, being their conductor since 1983 and chief conductor since 1987. Her other choirs include the Mixed Choir “Kungla”, Boys’ Choir of Virumaa county, and a number of youth choirs. Anneli Surva was Member of Board of the Estonian Women’s Song Society during 2002-2006 and Member of the Music Working Group of the Estonian Choral Association in 2004-2006. She has been the conductor of the Women’s Choir of the National Library of Estonia since 1995.
Viktoria Jagomägi (born 1947) is a choir conductor and culture professional. She graduated from the Tallinn State Conservatory (presently Estonian Music and Theatre Academy) in 1970 as choir conductor (in the class of Professor Kuno Areng and Professor Arvo Ratassepp). Viktoria Jagomägi has worked in the Estonian State Philharmonic Society, Ministry of Culture, Estonian Song and Dance Celebration Foundation, Estonian National Opera, and has been Manager of the National Opera’s Winter Garden for 15 years. Viktoria Jagomägi has also been active in choral life, being the assistant conductor of the Tallinn Pedagogical Institute Women’s Choir (1967-1969), Estonian Academy of Sciences Women’s Choir (1971-1978) and Tallinn Technical University Alumni Women’s Choir (1983-1992), and founder and chief conductor of the Estonian Commercial School Girls Choir (1988-1992). Viktoria Jagomägi has been a Member of Board of the Estonian Women’s Song Society since its establishment in 1994, and Chairwoman of the Board during 1998-2001. In 2004 she received the Arvo Ratassepp Memorial Award for outstanding contribution to the development of Estonian choral life. Viktoria Jagomägi is the founder of the Women’s Choir of the National Library of Estonia, acting as its chief conductor during 1991-2009 and honorary conductor since 2009.