June 25, 2013
If you become aware of Estonia this week in San Francisco, there will be two good reasons for it: an intensive marketing/sales campaign for the "Discover Estonia Expo," and Tiit Helimets.
Let's take the second item, of more cultural interest than, for example, the very fine Saku Kuld, the finest beer of Estonia’s oldest brewery.
Helimets, a star principal dancer of the San Francisco Ballet, born and raised in Estonia, is the Estonian National Ballet's company manager in the U.S. and the artistic director for a gala in the Palace of Fine Arts on June 28. This is the 94-year-old national company's first appearance here.
Helimets' own Time is featured on the program, to music by Paula Matthusen and text by Abi Basch. After performances by Estonian pianists and singers, ballet returns as Helimets and Ballet San Jose's Alexsandra Meijer dance the Adagio from Swan Lake, followed by the third act of Marina Kesler's Othello.
On the program: pianist Hando Nahkur, in his first North American appearance, popular Broadway singer Hanna-Liina Võsa, and the Estonian Youth Wind Orchestra, conducted by Aavo Ots.
It's an ensemble of 55 musicians, between ages 15 and 25, selected from throughout the country.
During the week, World Estonian Festival (ESTO) joins with Lääneraniku Eesti Päevad (LEP), the West Coast Estonian Festival, for LEP-ESTO 2013, with a slate of events throughout the Bay Area, including a technology business conference "iEstonia" in Silicon Valley, a film festival premiering the latest work by Jim and Maureen Tusty (directors of The Singing Revolution), the traditional Laulupidu song festival, and a range of cultural-related seminars.
Interesting that in today's global village, Estonia's national ballet has one Russian among principals (Sergei Upkin), and corps members from Moldova, Japan, and England. Of course, when you look at nationalities at the San Francisco Ballet ...