Traversing Tallinn As Tour Ends

Saturday was a day full of final moments – our final city tour, our final concert, and our final time together as a tour choir.

Our city tour began with a bus ride to Kadriorg Palace, built in the 18th century by the Russian czar Peter the Great for his wife Catherine I. This brightly colored manor is surrounded by a large park that contains many gardens and a man-made pond called Swan Pond.

The next stop on our tour is one many of us were anticipating since we watched “The Singing Revolution,” a documentary about the non-violent revolution in Estonia in the late 1980s that led to the end of the Soviet occupation of the Baltic States. The Tallinn Song Festival Grounds, which holds many festivals including the Estonian Song Festival every 5 years, was the site of incredible mass demonstrations of singing – over 300,000 Estonians poured into the grounds and stood and sang together to show their support of Estonian independence. Once we reached the grounds, we couldn’t help but crowd together and raise our voices in song in honor of this amazing legacy.

Our tour took us back into the city and to the Old Town at the center. We climbed up the hill to Toompea Castle and wandered the hilltop, passing by the Estonian Parliament building and the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, a Russian Orthodox cathedral. At the edges of the hill were lookouts, from which we could glimpse a bird’s-eye view of Tallinn.

Finally, we gathered for our last concert. We sang at the White Hall of the House of Blackheads, a 14th century hall whose name may sound familiar if you read our post about our tour of Riga – as in Latvia, the Brotherhood of Blackheads were an association of foreign merchants. We were honored to be joined by Estonian composer Karin Kuulpak, who informed us that our rendition of her piece “Flying Away” was the first time she’d heard it performed live!

After the concert, we wound our way through the streets of the Old Town together to gather for one final dinner as a tour choir. Half of the choir would leave in the morning for the US while the rest remained in Europe for a side trip to Finland. Though we were sad for the main tour to end, our hearts were filled with love and light as we reflected on the amazing time we’d had together in Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia – and we’d like to thank all those who helped us to make this trip possible!

If you’ve been following along with our trip from North Carolina, we hope you will join us on Sunday, July 16 at 3:00 pm at Judea Reform in Durham as we present a homecoming concert to benefit a local refugee organization. The concert is free but donations will be accepted and given to Church World Service-Durham. You can read more about this concert on our website. Thank you for reading about our adventures, and we hope to see you on Sunday!

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