The Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre opened a new concert and performance centre  

The Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre, celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, opened the newest concert and performance centre in Estonia today; it features a concert hall accommodating 482 people, a black box theatre with 130 seats for actors and jazz musicians, and 21 new classrooms. The state-of-the-art building which cost approximately 12 million euros took one and a half years to construct. 

Tonight, President Kersti Kaljulaid and Professor Ivari Ilja, rector of the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre (EAMT), cut the ribbon on the stage of the newly erected concert hall and declared the new building open. The solemn ceremony was followed by the opening concert, featuring, among other pieces, the performance of Tõnu Kõrvits’s latest work “Ta kõneleb vaikselt” for the first time ever, followed by the programme “Kummardus alustajatele” prepared by the Department of Drama especially for the opening event. 

At the opening of the new building today, President Kersti Kaljulaid said that the self-identification of Estonian people has always incorporated a desire to build bridges between freedom and creative self-expression. “Today, too, music and theatre mean much more for our nation than merely fine arts. This is illustrated by the abundance of concerts, festivals and premiering plays as well as the astonishing demand for theatre and concert tickets. This is a natural part of our mentality and nervous system, which is largely based on the foundation this academy has traditionally been building and will keep building,” President Kaljulaid said, adding that all of the above also arouses high expectations for the academy here in Estonia and internationally. “In order for us to remain free and open to the world so that it can still be our invaluable art that the world knows Estonia by.”

Professor Ivari Ilja, rector of the EAMT, says the new concert and performance centre is the best possible birthday present the academy could have received for its 100th anniversary. “Now our students will be able to have a taste of their future lives as creators and practice on big stages here already during their studies,” Professor Ilja noted. “The concert and performance centre will undoubtedly raise the standard of music and theatre education in Estonia and boost the competitive ability of our graduates internationally. Wider music and theatre audience will also certainly find a number of reasons to come to the new building as the schedule of public concerts and performances to be held in the newly completed halls is already rather tight. In addition to the academy’s students, these stages will see famous musicians, directors and actors from Estonia and beyond.”

At the heart of the 6,000 square metre concert and performance facility, there is a concert hall through four floors with 482 seats, which will be ideal for classical performances as well as other styles of music. The audience can enter the concert hall with two galleries through the main building of the academy and also from Sakala and Tatari streets, so it can be flexibly used for studies and as a public event venue. There is no other concert hall in Tallinn at the moment that would accommodate almost half a thousand people, so the new building is filling this niche.

The black box with 130 seats was constructed through three floors and will be used by drama students and jazz musicians. The five-storey building with a basement floor also houses 21 classrooms, including a multimedia centre and a jazz classroom. There is access to the main building of the academy from all the floors of the concert and performance centre. 

The EAMT’s concert and performance centre was designed by AS Resand. The architects were Toivo Tammik and Mart Rõuk from the architectural firm Ansambel and Kalvi Voolaid. The author of the interior architectural solution of the halls is Aivar Oja from FraDisain OÜ, and the acoustic design was created by Linda Madalik in collaboration with the Danish acoustics agency Gade&Mortensen Akustik. The general contractor for the construction was Nordlin Ehitus AS, and the site supervision on the part of the owner was performed by Tallinna Linnaehituse AS. 

The construction of the new concert and performance centre was financed by the European Regional Development Fund, the Cultural Endowment of Estonia and the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre.

The concert and performance centre of the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre in fact and figures 

General:

– net floor area of approximately 6,000 m2

– five floors plus the basement floor

– 21 classrooms

– large concert hall

black box

– offices and utility rooms

– multimedia centre

Main concert hall:

– number of seats 482

– stage area 180 m2

– orchestra pit 48 m2

– stalls 270 m2

– reverberation (T60) 1–2.2 seconds

– reverberation with the curtains 1.5 seconds

Black box:

– number of seats up to 130

– area 180 m2

  • The principal design element in the light-coloured interior solution of the hall is the wave motif. Wavy wall panels run horizontally, and this is how sound moves. Interior architect Aivar Oja says that the wave image can be interpreted as a sound wave, sea wave or sand dune. 
  • What was avoided in the design of the hall is the use of numerous spotlights; instead, lighting is provided with colour-changing LED lights installed in the walls. 
  • The author of the acoustic design of the building is the country’s most prominent acoustics specialist Linda Madalik, whose primary task was to ensure that the concert hall provides excellent sound. She supervised the creation of a unique acoustic cloud over the stage for performers to able to hear one another better on stage. The designers of the concert hall spared no effort to make sure that the wavy panels on the walls fully met strict acoustic requirements. After lengthy analyses and testing, the panels were manufactured from Komi birch, which grows in tundra and is known for high wood density, by Supra Mööbel OÜ from Sõmeru. 
  • A special decorative feature of the EAMT’s new building is the stained-glass panel “The First Language”, which spans through several floors. It was created by glass artist Maret Sarapu, who says music can be acquired like one’s mother tongue, picked up in the process of communication from speakers of varying skills with varying vocabulary. 
  • In addition, there is an area for art displays in the lobby of the new concert and performance centre. The first exposition to be exhibited there is Enno Hallek’s “Da capo al fine”, curated by Harry Liivrand. 
  • Many of the concerts and plays in the new concert and performance centre will be free for audience. Information about upcoming events is available at www.emtasaalid.ee