09/07-19/07/2024

“The week­long music festival run by Paavo Järvi in the idyllic seaside town of Pärnu is a symbol of its country’s highest cultural ties with the best of the rest of Europe.” The Arts Desk

The Pärnu Festival and Järvi Academy were founded by Paavo Järvi in 2011 together with his father, Neeme Järvi, and it’s family atmosphere envelopes the visiting musicians, students and audience alike creating a unique summer refuge on the Estonian coast.

Having grown up in Tallinn, Pärnu has always held a special place in Paavo’s heart as it was where the family traditionally gathered for summer holidays. During occupation it was also the summer home of artists including Dmitri Shostakovich and David Oistrakh who visited for the nearest thing to western tolerance and understanding in the Soviet Union. Pärnu was a place for artists to relax and enjoy each other’s company and it was here in 1973 that a young Paavo met Shostakovich for the first time.

It was also here that David Oistrakh invited musicians and students to join him for ad hoc performances in the little green Dacha which he rented each summer before his death in 1974. It was in this spirit that Paavo Järvi decided to return to Pärnu, surrounded by his family, and create a festival offering masterclasses to international young conductors, creating an Academy Orchestra comprising the very best of young Estonian musical talent and the Estonian Festival Orchestra – hand-picked by Paavo, including professional Estonian musicians complemented by soloists from the top European orchestras. In addition to playing in the Festival Orchestra, these guest musicians also perform chamber music concerts and offer advice to the younger generation of musicians.

2024 Festival
 

In typical Järvi style, the range of music on offer in Pärnu is wide. Neeme Järvi opens the 2024 festival on 10 July with a programme dedicated to Beethoven, Schubert and Friedrich Gulda, whilst Kristjan Järvi and the Baltic Sea Philharmonic transform the stage with their trademark visionary approach and a programme entitled, Nordic Swans, where new works and reimagined masterpieces by Sibelius, Tormis, Pärt, and Tchaikovsky intertwine (11 July).

For the first of four concerts with Paavo Järvi and the Estonian Festival Orchestra (EFO), accordian soloist Ksenija Sidorova returns to Pärnu to give the world premiere of a new work by Tõnu Kõrvits (13 July), in a programme which also features Bizet’s Roma Symphony. The soloist in Bruch’s Violin Concerto (14 July) is young Estonian violinist, Hans Christian Aavik, winner of the 2022 Carl Nielsen Competition.

Making their first appearances at the festival are international guest soloists Alisa Weilerstein (cello) and Kirill Gerstein (piano), who join Paavo Järvi and the EFO for performances of Elgar’s Cello Concerto (19 July) and Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini (20 July). 

This summer also sees the start of a new, annual initiative to commission works from female Estonian composers, commencing this summer with world-premieres by Helena Tulve and Maria Kõrvits. Paavo Järvi explains: “Since the inauguration of the Pärnu Music Festival we have regularly championed new music and Helena Tulve was our Composer in Residence already in 2012. Today Helena is not only one of Estonia’s most influential composers but also the guiding light to a younger generation of composers, including her student Maria Kõrvits. I am delighted that we will be presenting world-premieres from two such talented composers, both of whom have very different and individual voices. Maria’s new chamber piece will be unveiled in the Gala Concert on 16 July and I look forward to seeing the score of Helena’s latest orchestral work which I will conduct the premiere of with the Estonian Festival Orchestra in the closing festival concerts on 18 and 19 July.”

“What is so enchantingly charming and magical about this time forgotten place? The concentration of the musicians who gather around Paavo Järvi is the one thing. And the absolute absence of any pretention” 

Die Welt

Having grown up in Tallinn, Pärnu has always held a special place in Paavo’s heart as it was where the family traditionally gathered for summer holidays. During occupation it was also the summer home of artists including Dmitri Shostakovich and David Oistrakh who visited for the nearest thing to western tolerance and understanding in the Soviet Union, it was a place for artists to relax and enjoy each other’s company and it was here in 1973 that a young Paavo met Shostakovich for the first time.

It was also here that David Oistrakh invited musicians and students to join him for ad hoc performances in the little green Dacha which he rented each summer before his death in 1974. It was in this spirit that Paavo Järvi decided to return to Pärnu, surrounded by his family, and create a festival offering masterclasses to international young conductors, creating an Academy Orchestra comprising the very best of young Estonian musical talent and the EstonianFestival Orchestra – hand-picked by Paavo, including professional Estonian musicians complemented by soloists from the top European orchestras. In addition to playing in the Festival Orchestra, these guest musicians also perform chamber music concerts and offer advice to the younger generation of musicians. 

 “There isn’t a hint of a hothouse environment on stage – these are simply musicians having the time of their lives, no small thanks to the inspiring Paavo Järvi himself, and they’re an inspiration, in turn, to the festival youth orchestra.”

BBC Music Magazine 

The week long festival takes place in various locations throughout the town including the church of St Elizabeth – founded in 1741 when the Russian empress donated 8000 roubles for its construction. Children’s concerts take place in one of the numerous spa hotels where families gather after long days on the beach and the main festival concerts take place in the elegant 1000 seater concert hall, built in 2002 and widely regarded as having one of Estonia’s best acoustics. For Paavo, the Pärnu Festival is not just another festival. Having emigrated with his family aged 18 to the States, it is the chance to return to his roots, to showcase the culture and beauty of his country and to nurture the next generation of musicians. And the Estonian Festival Orchestra has become a major part of that story, bringing together professional Estonian players with musicians from across Europe and beyond, with the same motto of Estonian Independence as it was read from the balcony of the Endla Theatre in 1918.

“You stand on the threshold of a hopeful future in which you shall be free and independent in determining and directing your destiny! Begin building a home of your own, ruled by law and order, in order to be a worthy member within the family of civilized nations!“