ESTONIA- THE SINGING NATION-PART ONE
(excerpted from Our Summer in Estonia see my profile for more information)
Worldwide there are many well known and highly regarded musical festivals. They take different forms. Some, for example, celebrate a prolific and renowned composer, such as Wagner or Mozart. Others represent a style of music such as opera at Spoleto and jazz at Monterey. What's more, these festivals endure as commercial successes, filling hotels and cafes with tourists. But I don't know of another festival as unique as the Estonian Song Festival, unique for several reasons. The first reason is its frequency, being held only once every five years. Compared to most festivals, that's a long interval between meetings. A second factor is its dimension. Usually lasting only three or four days, it nevertheless, has been attended by as much as one-third if the population. That's an enormous out poring of national support. Third is its longevity. This festival can trace its lineage to 1869. I don't know what other festival compares. Last, is its patriotic fervor. The festival primarily celebrates being Estonian. It has provided a means at critical times in Estonia's history, for people to express their desire for freedom and, at other times, as a means to express an awakening of Estonian self-identity. While other people express political disaffection by marching in protest, camping out in public places refusing to move, wearing masks to seek anonymity ans they destroy property, take school children hostage, or simply go on strike, Estonians sing.
There are many names attached to the revolutionary change Easter European nations have experienced in their breakaway from the Soviet Union. The Czech Republic's experience, for example is referred to the Velvet Revolution. For Estonia, it is the singing revolution. More to follow on this wonderful, inspiring story of a nation's rise to freedom.