Estonian Folk Music at the National Gallery of Art

Last week, on May 3rd, as part of the European Month of Culture, an Estonian-born artist Valev Laube presented his most recent project "Tonality of Culture". The multidisciplinary concert gave a modern look at the Estonian history and showcased the diverse cultural influences of Estonian music. In cooperation with four other artists the audience has a chance to be guided through Estonian national legends, rituals, history, music and dance.

 Joint performance by Diina Tamm (dance), James Koroni (dance), Valev Laube (violin), Reid Zuckerman (guitar), and Evan Basta (viola). (May 3rd, National Gallery of Art, Washington DC)

Joint performance by Diina Tamm (dance), James Koroni (dance), Valev Laube (violin), Reid Zuckerman (guitar), and Evan Basta (viola). (May 3rd, National Gallery of Art, Washington DC)

“Together with former students of the Eastman School of Music, Evan Basta and Reid Zuckerman, we went through a vast collection of digitized archive recordings dating back to 1910s. We picked out violin tunes that represent different chapters in Estonian history and musically celebrate the diversity of its culture” said Valev Laube.

 Valev Laube at National Gallery of Art (May 3rd, Washington DC)

Valev Laube at National Gallery of Art (May 3rd, Washington DC)

Valev Laube is an Estonian-born digital artist, musician and entrepreneur with background in marketing, digital media and music performance. His research in 2012 focused on Estonian folk tunes that were prohibited during the Soviet Union and in recent year he has performed his music all around Europe and North-America. As an artist, his most recent video art project was showcased right by Times Square in New York City as part of a performance art show “Reflection Spectrum”.

“The post-soviet era in Estonia has given Estonians the freedom to reconnect with their roots. Since the independence Estonian artists have gained access to many songs and archive recordings that were prohibited during the Soviet Union.” Laube added, “It is an exciting period because the fast advancements in technology and rapidly growing integration of the European market has given Estonian artists new platforms to reinterpret the Estonian traditional music and introduce it across the globe”

Evan Basta is a former viola student of the Eastman School of Music and a recent computer science graduate. He has been involved in many university-sponsored projects and performed all over the east coast. Reid Zuckerman, the guitarist of the trio, is also a double major student specializing in economics and jazz guitar. His projects bring in a variety of instruments and sounds that reflect his ancestry, most prominently the Armenian Duduk. Even though the trio was put together specifically for this project, Valev Laube and Evan Basta have collaborated for years. They’ve performered in Rochester as part of the Rochester Fringe Festival as well as in New York City.

 Diina Tamm & James Koroni at the National Gallery of Art (May 3rd, Washington DC)

Diina Tamm & James Koroni at the National Gallery of Art (May 3rd, Washington DC)

Thanks to a New York-based choreographer Diina Tamm and dancer James Koroni, old folk tunes, legends, and rituals also found a new life through contemporary dance. Performancers aimed to communicate the meaning of Estonian legends and sauna rituals through choreography. Both performers have an impressive background. They've worked for artists such as Madonna, Icona Pop, Misterwives, and many others.

The concert was organized in cooperation with the National Gallery of Art, University of Rochester, and Estonian Embassy in Washington.

 Multidisciplinary Concert "Tonality of Culture" at the National Gallery of Art (Washington DC) ft. Valev Laube, Diina Tamm, Evan Basta, Reid Zuckerman, and James Koroni

Multidisciplinary Concert "Tonality of Culture" at the National Gallery of Art (Washington DC) ft. Valev Laube, Diina Tamm, Evan Basta, Reid Zuckerman, and James Koroni