Eva Karo Starts Working at the Veljo Tormis Virtual Center

09 Nov 2023

Eva Karo

Actively involved in the promotion of classical music and concert management, Eva Karo consistently immerses herself in the enchanting renditions of renowned compositions by various choirs. This enthusiasm is particularly heightened when a long-standing archival piece finds its place in the concert repertoire. As a dedicated vinyl collector with connections in the record industry, Eva diligently monitors recordings and media features showcasing Tormis's oeuvre. She expresses her joy in leveraging her skills and network to expand the reach of the Virtual Center's information and the musical legacy of Veljo Tormis.

Raised in Kuusalu Parish, the same hometown as Veljo Tormis, Eva was exposed to the composer's creative legacy from a young age. Reflecting on her childhood experiences, she recalls her initial visit to Tormis's birthplace, Kõrveaia cottage in Aru village, during a summer camp. Although she didn't delve deeply into the significance at the time, she finds it fascinating that her first encounter involved runic songs (regilaul) and haymaking in Kõrveaia. Even now, she continues the tradition of visiting Kõrveaia every summer on Tormis's anniversary around August 7, always bringing along her son.

As for any child from Kuusalu, the name Veljo Tormis was a frequent presence in music history lessons and choir rehearsals. “Insights to his music came from my teachers, Niina Esko, Taavi Esko, and Menda Kirsmaa. Thanks to their guidance, my curiosity in the realm of sound and its diverse facets deepened. I remember the first time I heard powerful passages of runic songs performed by male choirs, a piece of a children's song, then the music of "Spring” (“Kevade”, 1969) performed by an orchestra, and I was perplexed - is it all by the same composer? Tormis's work is really wide-ranging, having written almost all possible choir compositions, as well as solo songs, instrumental and film music.”

For Eva, delving into Tormis's heritage is not only a tremendous honor but also a profound responsibility. “Connecting with such a substantial legacy in Estonia's cultural history is undeniably moving. In the 1950s, Tormis emerged as a composer of a new generation with a robust national identity, introducing innovative sonic palettes, compositional techniques, and imagery to Estonian choral music. Now, the Virtual Center shares a comparably ambitious aim—to pioneer the development of a comprehensive archival platform and ensure its international accessibility. While the workload is substantial, the enthusiasm is even greater! I'm committed to contributing so that this crucial facet of Estonian music can be meticulously collected, organized, and preserved. Much progress has been made, but there's still much to accomplish.”

“To the surprise of many, Tormis's creations are passionately embraced by choirs all over the world, spanning Asia, America, and neighboring countries. In this capacity, I am now in the role of a representative and contact person, to build communication and enhance cooperation projects. After all, Tormis's work was also cross-border, which was not limited to Estonian folklore. I now serve as a representative and point of contact to facilitate closer communication and foster more collaborative projects. Tormis's work transcends borders, extending beyond Estonian folklore and incorporating texts from the Votic, Livonian, and Ingrian peoples, among others. Veljo Tormis's legacy undeniably holds an international dimension, deserving broad resonance both today and in the future.”

Documenting the memory and endeavors of Veljo Tormis is an enduring creative undertaking aimed at consolidating materials related to his work within the Veljo Tormis Virtual Center. This ensures easy accessibility to information, contributing to the growth of the cultural community on a global scale.

Photo: Karmen Kull