The Concert

It was my dad's concert on Saturday evening, and I was looking forward to it more than Christmas or annual leave. And yet I really enjoyed the preparation process because it meant that dad was in Tallinn more often than usual, and after or before the organ practice we would go out and have a lunch or a dinner and would have long conversations about life and theology. And then we would go to the church for a practice, and he would play all kinds of stuff and it would be so much fun to sing and to assist him on the organ. One time it was around 11 p. m. when we left the church. Ah, so much fun!

And the concert was well worth the preparations. Tallinn church was absolutely packed on Saturday evening and the unfortunate latecomers had to stand up in the back of the hall for the whole time. Some seasoned church members noted later that they hadn't seen such a crowd in our church for decades (we were sitting in the very front because we all sang in the choir - S., H., K. and me - and S. said he wasn't looking around much (good upbringing lol!) and he almost got a shock once we went up on the platform as he had no idea the church would be full to its limits). So many friends came, family, colleagues. I was especially happy to see two of my dad's professors from the Music Academy, the Grand Old Lady of conducting, and the organ professor who has encouraged dad to write more pieces for the organ. The chamber choir was well prepared, the soloist - a church member who has been an opera singer in the past - did an excellent job. I don't know how it all looked or sounded to others, I was emotionally and in every other way too closely connected to it to evaluate it from an objective point of view, but for me the whole evening was a whopping success. I was so terribly happy for my dad, and so very proud. I was afraid he'd never get back to composing after mom died but thank heavens the springs of inspiration have not dried up. There were a couple of songs for which last Saturday's concert was the premiere. All in all, when we got to my place, dad and me, late at night (because there had to be a little after-party at my auntie's) and we unloaded the car from all the gifts and bouquets, a great calm decended. The hard work was done, the concert was over, we were happy, and very very tired.

I'm so immersed in my dad's music that it has become the fabric of my life. There's no way I can separate myself from it. From my earliest memories - when my mom and dad led another chamber choir - to the latest award-winning song in the Christmas carols contest (the official premiere's coming up this Sunday, whoop whoop, guess who's going:), dad's music has been the most natural part of my life. He has a lot to do with my deep and emotional love for music.


I'm trying to think of any other noteworthy things but not much comes to mind. It has been busy time work wise, and I don't mind the least. I've celebrated the 500th Reformation anniversary at the Arch Bishop's reception on October 31. I stood there, among a great number of men with very black suits and very dark robes, with my very pink blazer, and felt exceptionally good haha! I've been to the National Television to shoot some Christian programs - it was my third time there and I always love it - everyone's so nice and polite to you, and you get a really nice tv make up. Oh, vanity of vanities! I've been to the Churches Counsil's committee meeting, giving a presentation on our church's view on ecumenism (I've had easier and better presentations in my life but fortunately the Catholic church's rep with his two PhDs was missing, phew), I've preached and given Bible studies. The lovely doctor who performed my eye surgery was in church this past Sabbath morning (I had invited him), and I made sure I told the story of getting back my eyesight in my sermon. He sat in the first row and beamed. The Newbold semester is ovah and the Greek exams have been graded and will fly to Newbold tomorrow. So much good stuff, now that I actually start thinking about it.

Other than that, my blog hit the bar of 20 000 page views last week. I don't know if it's much or little for these years but it's a nice milestone in any case. I never go back to read my old stuff but I wholeheartedly enjoy writing those silly posts. Please don't take them too seriously. Too often I write that stuff with my tongue in cheek.

Books wise, I've come back to Ismail Kadare.

Music wise, have I already mentioned Tchaikovsky? Heavens, I think I'm properly obsessed.

And Christmas is around the corner. Sweet.


When we had our exhibition challenge with Dr A. N. – a monthly visit to a museum or art gallery – sometimes I would remember it two days before a month ended and would then frantically look for an exhibition to visit. There were some great experiences (a photo exhibition about apartheid in South Africa probably touched me the most – they were terribly painful photos to look at) but all in all the whole thing took some effort from my side. So when we started another one of our "culture challenges" this September, that of classical concerts, I was a little worried. I wasn’t sure how I’d do. Now I know how I’m doing...

I’ve turned into a complete concert junkie.

In all honesty, I’m not looking for these concerts, it’s more like the opposite. They seem to be chasing me.

I mean, the whole thing started with a bang in September – with Arvo Pärt and his handshake and his concert. I wrote about that. Then it must have been (I’m starting to forget) Erkki Pärnoja, he plays the guitar in a band called Ewert and the Two Dragons (if there’s one Estonian band I’d recommend, that’s the one). It was a solo concert and the first time I ever saw looping on stage. I sat there, wide eyed, not sure whether it was magic or sorcery. Then October began with Mihkel Poll and me keeping my breath when he played Chopin, that one I also covered. About two weeks later he played with his sister Mari – a goddess looking violinist – and a cellist in the Music Academy and I made sure I didn’t miss it. To my surprise they came to talk to the audience after the concert so I had a little chat with them and I learnt that Mari and me have had the same violin teacher. There our similarities end – I mean, she went on to study in Royal College of Music in London, my violin is collecting dust under my bed and crying. I had barely recovered from that concert when my auntie (she’s a violin teacher) messaged me and got me a last minute under-the-counter ticket to hear violist Maxim Rysanov. This guy turned out to be not only a ravingly talented violist but also an equally talented conductor! He got such charm the orchestra did absolutely everything he wanted them to do – and probably also the audience. Last Sunday – I’m starting to feel like a stalker – I found out about another small concert of M. P. & M. P. and went to hear it. It turns out some musicians use a concert hall of a small music school near Tallinn as a sort of a practice space where they give small (and free!) concerts before they have their big ones. M. P. is playing Glazunov’s violin concert with her orchestra soon – she works in Stavanger Symphony Orchestra in Norway, and she had this „practice” concert here. It cost me less than 4 euros for a return ticket to go hear her play Glazunov, and then her brother played some more Chopin. I simply could not believe my luck! And yesterday I was in Tartu, and after a day in the Seminary the principal invited me to go and listen to the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra and a shining star of the violin world, Baiba Skride.

I have no explanation for how this has happened. And it seems to go on with about the same speed. There are four more concerts I want to go to before the end of this year - two for which I already have tickets. It's madness.

Whether it happens to be a coincident or divine providence, I don’t know. All I know is that I need this music. There is something in my mind, in my uncounsciousness, that is terribly restless. Those dreams about my mum, the restlessness of sleep – I don’t know where that stuff comes from and why and what to do about it. It’s all very frustrating and terribly tiring. But music soothes my mind like nothing else does. It doesn’t fix me – how could it? – but it brings calmness and joy to my soul and these are just about the best things I could think of and wish for these days.

Music seems to be my therapy, concert halls my counseling rooms.


I am back home after my rush visit to Newbold.

Newbold has always been good to me, and it didn’t disappoint me this time either. When I think of this place and try to find a metaphor which would explain – or at least try to explain – what it means to me, I’d say it’s like an anchor. It’s one stable place for me, something that keeps me grounded and something I can go back to when I start drifting or am in danger of forgetting who I am. Once I’ve been there, I’m back on track. Once again I know who I am. And why I am.

My visit was so short I didn’t contact everyone I would have wanted to see. I knew I couldn’t fill my days with meeting friends this time. I didn’t even tell The Lady I was on campus, although I have missed her and her counseling office a lot. I would have loved to talk about life and grief and losses and victories. Not this time, I told myself, there will be other times for that in the future, in sha Allah. There were other people whom I would have loved to see again. But no. Some other time.

Which doesn’t mean I isolated myself entirely. I went out with friends who are on campus, had some appointments with lecturers, and had lunch with the whole staff of the Department of Theological Studies on Tuesday. They were having an academic board that day so everyone was on campus. It was a happy meeting for me, some of my lecturers I hadn’t seen for a long while. And then, after their marathon board meeting, we headed out with T. (I should really say Dr T. de B.) and Dr A. N. and Dr J-C. V. for a long and lazy dinner. It’s still difficult for me to make the mental transition from being their student to being their colleague. But I loved every minute of this dinner.

I think I spent only about an half an hour in Dr A. N.’s office. She gave me drugs – books – which I had run out of and which she had so generously purchased for me. So I’m good for a while, until I run out of the stuff again and will need another fix, that is. Books are dangerous, addictive stuff, and I’m hopelessly hooked. But it wasn’t only about books. It literally took less than half an hour for her to give me some direction I so badly needed in my life. What she told me (to do) felt almost like a revelation. That’s why she’s my mentor no 1. Only she can do something like this.

But work also got done. I am really looking forward to the next semester and to the translations we are going to do with Riga study group. Chapters of 1 John, some Mark and Matthew, bits from Revelation – I think it will be the most enjoyable semester of all! The hard labour of working through endless grammar tables has ended, let the tranlsation fun begin.

And the exam got done. It took me and T. almost three hours to get it on paper but we did it!

It all felt a lot like a breath of fresh air. And God knows I needed it. I had been struggling with a lot of stuff before the trip, sleeping problems and growing sugar addiction. Seeing mom in my dreams again. Hard things which I don’t really want to talk about. So they were all very uplifting, these traveling days. Even the fact that I missed my connecting flight in Frankfurt yesterday and had to spent 8 hours waiting for the next flight didn’t bother me overtly much. I had a brillinat book with me. And I was refreshed and inspired.

Thank you, Newbold.
These should last for a while.