Performing and Exploring in Estonia

Posted By on May 22, 2006

After twenty-two years of orchestral employment, I thought I had played just about every major work ever written, especially the grand works composed before 1960. Yet here I sat in an airplane heading for Tallin, Estonia and in my horn case is the first horn part to Sir William Walton`s Symphony Nr. 1. The Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg under the baton of Mr. Bramwell Tovey was booked to perform the 45-minute work three times on this trip. For the uninitiated who may have the Walton Symphony on your next season`s agenda, be sure you get free for the first half of the concert! Having said that, I understand it is performed in Britain rather often.

As is usual for me on these tours, I happily combine the musical purpose of being there in the first place with an enthusiastic exploration of both the city and its cuisine. The old town of Tallin proved to be a total delight in every way. It was of course part of the Hanseatic League for centuries (I say, of course, but actually I did not know this until I arrived) and has preserved most of the old buildings, cobblestone streets and charm that its partner Hanseatic cities possess. The restraunts and souvenir stores push the “medieval thing” pretty hard as a gimmick, but hey, it works for me! I climbed to the top of the Oliviste Church to behold a spectacular view of the city and its harbor and I visited the Russian Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant churches, each very different from the other (disproving a statement I over heard from an elderly german tourist who, siting on a park bench while his wife explored one of the churches said, “Sie sehen alle gleich aus.”) And after the concerts we were able to chose between Estonian, Russian, Chinese, Italian, and Indian fare, as well as something they referred to as “Caucasian Food” (Glazed Ham and Macaroni and Cheese, Tuna Casserole with those potato chips crumbled on top?) But for me the best surprise was hidden deep in the ancient and windy cobblestoned streets, somewhere a little bit off the normal tourist path. Across the street from a fascinating antique shop was a tiny place called “Texas Honky Tonk Cantina”. Naw ya gotta luv a town that hassa joint lahk thayat!

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