THE ESTONIAN UNITED BOYS' CHOIR "KALEV"
was established in 1993 by the Estonian Male Choral Society's board member and conductor Mr. Hirvo Surva. The choir's objective is to gather together, through open competition, the most talented boy singers in Estonia in order to give them wider scope to develop. Estonia has a huge number of boys' choirs of varying sizes and standards, and the opportunity to perform and train among the best has proved highly motivating. The choir's uniformly high individual abilities have inevitably resulted in exceptional artistic attainment. The choir plays an important part in expanding the young artists' horizons, and music teaching also wins through an invaluable exchange of experience and information.
During its short nine years the choir has seen a meteoric growth in public acclaim. At the end of its very first season, the choir sang at an international contest in Sweden, and won first prize as well as the special prize. In 1997 the choir was expanded to 100 members by adding men's voices, which allowed the return of former singers whose voices had broken. Over 300 singers competed for placement. That season was crowned by a concert tour to Austria and Italy when the choir took the gold medal at the Parma international contest.
The choir performs regularly at home and abroad. During the 1998/99 season it came second in a contest organized by the Estonian Male Choral Society. The season also included the international choirs festival in Turku Finland, the "Aboa Vetus – Cantus Novus", where alongside choirs from Finland, Sweden, Germany, Italy and Russia, the Boys' Choir introduced Estonian music and was highly acclaimed. The 1999/2000 season ended at a Latvian song festival where they gave many successful concerts.
Several conductors have worked with the choir: Mr. Carl Hogset from Norway, Mr. Venno Laul, Mr. Veiko Lehto, Mrs. Laine Lehto, Mrs. Alla Eenmaa and Mr. Peeter Perens jnr. In October 2000 the choir took part in the Carl Hogset's (Norway) workshop as their study choir. Later they joined the international festival at Daugavpils, Latvia.
During the two seasons – 2001 and 2002 - the choir has also performed in Vladimir Martõnov's "Apocalypsis" together with the National Male Choir of Estonia, with performances in Moscow, Helsinki and Tallinn. The work is so complex that Martõnov had to spend several years looking for choirs able to perform it. The producer was the legendary Juri Ljubimov, the art director of Taganka Theatre, and the conductor was Andres Mustonen, art director of Hortus Musicus.
In March 2002 the choir participated in festival “Vivat, Peterburg!” The choir participated in 17th Annual Convention of Association of British Choral Directors in York University in England 23-25 August 2002.
The choir has participated successfully in the International Choral Festival “Tallinn 2001” and “Tallinn 2003”
The choir has participated in diverse projects – oratorio “Pro Patria” by Estonian composer Urmas Sisask (2003); oratorio “Paulus” by F. Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (2004); the project “the Ambers of the Baltic” (2005) – it also included a concert tour of the Joint Boys’ Choir of the Baltic states in the capitals of the Baltic states – Vilnius (Sept.14), Riga (Oct.27), Pärnu (Oct.29) and Tallinn (Oct.30)
The chief conductor since inception is Hirvo Surva, and Mr. Indrek Vijard
has conducted in the past three years.
Hirvo Surva (b. 1963) graduated as choral conductor from Estonian Music Academy (professor Ants Üleoja) in 1990. He has conducted Estonian National Male Choir, Male Choir of Estonian Academy of Sciences and Revalia Boys’ Choir. In 1990, he won the national contest for young choral conductors. Hirvo Surva is currently chief conductor of the Boys’ Choir of Estonia National Opera, the Virumaa Boys’ Choir, Estonian United Boys’ Choir „Kalev” and Revalia Chamber Male Choir. He also works with the Duubel 7 vocal ensemble. With his choirs, Hirvo Surva has repeatedly achieved high places at international competitions. At the 7th International Choir Festival „Tallinn 2001”, he was awarded the Best Conductor special prize. He is also the Conductor of the Year of 2003. Since 1993, he has been active as conductor at all-Estonian song festivals and was the artistic director of VIII and IX Youth Song Festivals. Hirvo Surva is a member of the board of Estonian Male Choirs Association and chairs the boys’ choirs’ section. Since 2002, he is also the chairman of the Estonian Choral Conductors Association.
Indrek Vijard (b.1965) is working surrently with the Järvamaa Boys’ Choir and The United Estonian Boys’ Choir “Kalev”, the Chamber Choir of Nõmme Music School and the Male Choir of Tallinn Pedagogical University. He has finished Tallinn Music High School in 1983 as a pianist and graduated from the Tallinn State Conservatory (Estonian Academy of Music) in 1990 as a choral conductor (with prof. Kuno Areng). Indrek Vijard has participated in numerous international choir festivals in the USA, Australia and Europe with his choirs. As a respected musician, Indrek Vijard has repeatedly been among the general conductors of Estonian Song Festivals. For the last ten years he has worked as a director of Nõmme Music School in Tallinn.