Charity concert to celebrate four countries’ 100th birthday

„It is certain that unless the Y’s Men Finland-Balticum region conference was held in Pärnu this concert had not been born,“ explained Piia Karro-Selg, the future manager of the Finland-Balticum region.

The idea of the concert came through the fact that Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania which all belong to the international organisation Y’s Men region celebrate their 100th year of independence within a relatively nearby time frame of a dozen months (Finland gained its independence on November 6th 1917, Estonia on February 24th 1918, Lithuania on February 16th 1918 and Latvia on November 18th 1918).

Karro-Selg explained that as organisers their goal was to find performers among the citizens of all four countries and thus the programme was influenced by what they had to choose from. The concert began with Raeküla Old School Centre’s own young musician performing. Mari-Liis Holm sang while accompaning herself on the guitar.

Next up was 12-year-old pianist Ruslan Andrejev who has been playing the piano since he was five. Playing in the concert hall of Raeküla Old School Centre was this young man’s first performance in Estonia. He lives in Staitsele, Northern Latvia, relatively close to the Estonian border. He has become well-known in Latvia thanks to successful performances at classical music competitions and now the time has come for Estonia to hear about him, too.

Katrin Hildunen-Alvela and Pikku Orvokki represented Pärnu Ingrian Finns Association with their youngster’s concert programme. They performed on the zither, sang folk songs and danced folk dances.

The Lithuanian lady Zita Gudelevičiūtė has been living in Pärnu for about ten years already and can speak Estonian, even though this time she was especially asked to cite Lithuanian poetry in the originaal language. Vividly delivered poet Justinas Marcinkevičius’s (1920-2011) „Tai gražiai mane augino” verses impressed even without being understood.

A Y’s Men member living in Helsinki sang in Swedish, because it is their mother tongue.

Due to it being a charitable organisation, even though the concert was admission free, every guest bought charity lottery tickets for the sum up to them, so some lucky contributors had the chance to win prizes. The prizes had been given to the centre for the purpose of being used in charity lotteries. In the past similar charity events the main prizes have been paintings donated for charitable purposes by Pärnu Art Club members last Christmas. The money collected with the lottery is used to develop the opportunities of recreational activities in the Raeküla Old School Centre’s youth centre. The youths’ dream is to get a pool table.

After the concert had ended, people drank coffee or peppermit tea with salty cake prepared early in the morning by the centre’s manager Karro-Selg.

As the future manager of Finland-Balticum region Karro-Selg explained the essence of the conference being held on Saturday. „After the couple of hours dedicated to the annual report we meet with the Estonian Volunteer Movement leader Eha Paas. On an especially prepared cooperation training we discuss and analyse what can be done together. Also, what cannot be done and why. The most important topic on the agenda is creating official organisations. We try to explain how this process is done in Estonia and then listen to our partners’ experience.“ The conference is brought to life to show what Estonian communities do to survive. „We are visiting Tõhela in Tõstamaa, Pärnu county where we meet real community life.“

Activities continue through Sunday. As a christian organisation there is a tradition to visit a local christian house of God at the end of the annual conference. This time Pärnu Immanuel congregation, where Joosep Tammo serves, is visited.

Urmas Saard

Adapted into English by Ester Haas

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