The Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir is one of the best-known Estonian music groups in the world. The choir was founded in 1981 by Tõnu Kaljuste, who was its Artistic Director and Principal Conductor for twenty years. From 2001–2007, the British musician Paul Hillier took over. From 2008–2013 the Artistic Director and Principal Conductor was Daniel Reuss. Since 2014 Kaspars Putniņš has been Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the choir.
The repertoire of the choir extends from Gregorian chant and baroque to the music of the 21st century, with a special focus on the work of Estonian composers (Arvo Pärt, Veljo Tormis, Erkki-Sven Tüür, Galina Grigoryeva, Toivo Tulev, Tõnu Kõrvits and Helena Tulve) and introducing it to the world. Each season, the choir gives about sixty to seventy concerts in Estonia and abroad.
The choir has co-operated with a number of outstanding conductors, among them Claudio Abbado, Helmuth Rilling, Eric Ericson, Ward Swingle, Neeme Järvi, Paavo Järvi, Nikolai Alekseyev, Olari Elts, Andrew Lawrence-King, Roland Böer, Frieder Bernius, Stephen Layton, Marc Minkowski, Christoph Poppen, Sir Colin Davis, Michael Riesman, Louis Langrée, Paul McCreesh, Gottfried von der Goltz and Andrés Orozco-Estrada, and with orchestras including the Norwegian, Australian, Lithuanian, Prague and Stuttgart Chamber Orchestras, the London Symphony Orchestra, the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, the Berliner Rundfunk Orchestra, the Concerto Copenhagen, the Concerto Palatino, the Württemberg Chamber Orchestra, the Salzburg Camerata, Les Musiciens du Louvre-Grenoble, the Philip Glass Ensemble, the North Netherlands Symphony Orchestra, the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Basel Chamber Orchestra , the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra and the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra.
The Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir has been a welcome guest at numerous music festivals and outstanding venues all over the world, for instance at the BBC Proms, the Mozartwoche, the Abu-Gosh Music Festival, the Hong Kong Arts Festival, the Moscow Easter Festival, the Musikfest Bremen, the Salzburg Festspiele, the Edinburgh International Festival, the Festival Aix-en-Provence, the International Cervantino Festival, the Vale of Glamorgan Festival, the Bergen International Festival, the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival, Sydney Opera House, the Wiener Konzerthaus, the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Versailles’ Opéra Royal, the Palau de la Música Catalana in Barcelona, the LSO St Luke’s in London, the Esplanade in Singapore, the Kennedy Center in Washington and the Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall in New York.
Another important aspect of the choir’s life is recording music (for ECM, Virgin Classics, Carus, Harmonia Mundi and Ondine), resulting in award-winning CDs. The Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir’s recordings have twice won Grammy awards for Best Choral Performance – in 2007 for the album Arvo Pärt. Da Pacem (Harmonia Mundi) with the conductor Paul Hillier and Arvo Pärt, and Pärt’s Adam’s Lament (ECM) with the conductor Tõnu Kaljuste. All in all, the choir has had fourteen Grammy nominations with works by Arvo Pärt and Erkki-Sven Tüür and music from the Nordic countries. The choir’s recordings have also won the Diapason d’or, the Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik, the Danish Music Award and the Choc de l’Année from Classica in 2014 among other prizes.