We are brand new!

All round! We hope you are enjoying our new design and advanced functionality. It is hard to introduce every single development, still we would like to pick up some just for fun:

Direct Facebook link: Select it from the main menu and you are immediately redirected to our official Facebook site.

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Archive: Besides Search function, you can also discover our older posts by simply selecting the date (month/year) from the dropdown menu (see: functions on the right side of our main page).

Events: It is even enough to hover above the calendar page icon to see the details. You need more info? Just click on the event! Would you like to buy a ticket online? No problem: we provide you with the direct link to ticketing systems (if the Organizer made it available). Would you like to synch events to your Google calendar? Solved!

Galleries: Now it is even easier to browse photos. Just select the submenu in Galleries and see what is inside the chosen album. Click on any pic to go on with original size photos. Enjoy!

Please consider that some of our pages are still under construction. We are trying to finish all editing in the upcoming weeks to provide you with the best user experience. Thank you for your understanding.

Viljandi Folk Music Festival

The theme of XXIV Viljandi Folk Music Festival is WOMEN’S VOICE

The theme of this year’s Viljandi Folk Music Festival is devoted to one of the most beautiful and expressive natural sound in the world – the woman’s voice. We concentrate on how women express themselves through singing and instrument playing both in Estonia and abroad, today and in the past. How does the work of contemporary Estonian female singers influence us? What kind of messages are communicated through female voices? How do the voices of faraway guests speak to us – for example, the women who carry out water rituals on Vanuatu island or the Mauritian female singing which the locals believe to have medicinal properties? The famous Georgian men’s singing has been capturing the hearts of festivalgoers for decades, now it’s time for the Georgian women to show what they are made of.

But why women, one might ask. Does that not hint at inequality and discrimination? Older Estonian folk songs have always been strongly influenced by the gender binary. You can usually identify whether the songs were sung by women or men based on the themes and motifs. These themes are still relevant today because these songs were sung straight from the hearts of our ancestors and we are able to listen to them today thanks to archival records and notes. This year, we are concentrating on what out female ancestors used to sing.

In this country, women were not always allowed on stage. At the first Estonian song festival in 1869, only male choirs were allowed on stage and women had to stay home during the busy haymaking season. Nowadays, the stages are shared equally between both sexes and this is how it is supposed to be. Back when women’s word was not worth much, they expressed themselves through their voice because the word of the singer was a law unto oneself – women were free to say whatever they wanted in song. Thus, women claimed their voice in the society through their singing. The powerful female voices of runo songstresses Anneli Vabarna, Liisa Kümmel and several others have deservedly made their way from the hidden confines of history onto grand stages, gleaming back to the audiences from the disco balls or hovering through time as part of new arrangements.

One of the meanings of women’s voice is the right to vote. It is worth mentioning that in Estonia, women got the right to vote exactly 99 years ago in 1917. Despite that, women’s right to vote is still limited or non-existent in several countries. The right to vote and women’s singing voice are both empowered by the courage and need to express oneself and use and develop one’s skills.

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Annual Meeting of UNESCO Honorary and Goodwill Ambassadors

This year’s Annual Meeting of UNESCO Honorary and Goodwill Ambassadors, convened by the Director-General, Irina Bokova, took place at UNESCO Headquarters on 15 June, and brought together outstanding personalities from the worlds of art, film, music, literature, charity and public affairs.

The Honorary and Goodwill Ambassadors such as Her Royal Highness Grand Duchess  Maria Teresa  of Luxembourg, Her Royal Highness Princess Firyal of Jordan, Ms. Marta Sebestyen, Mrs. Ivonne A-Baki, Mr. Metin Arditi, Mr. Pierre Bergé, Mrs. Claudia Cardinale, Ms.  Cecile Guidote-Alvarez, Mrs. Bahia Hariri, Mr. Alain Husson-Dumoutier, Mr. Jean Michel Jarre, Mr. Cyprien Katsaris, Countess Setsuko Klossowska de Rola, Mr. Jean Malaurie, Mr. Serguei Markarov, Mrs. Mariana Nicolesco, Mr. Eijin Nimura, Mr. Ali Mahdi Nouri, Mr. Jordi Savall, Mr. Zurab Tsereteli, Mrs. Marianna Vardinoyannis, and many others joined this important gathering.

In this very special year celebrating the 70th anniversary of UNESCO, the main topics of discussion were focused on actions such as the World Education Forum 2015, UNESCO’s thought on the issues related to youth and Internet, the “UNITE4HERITAGE” campaign, as well as UNESCO’s participation at the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21/CMP11) to be held in Paris from 30 November to 11 December 2015.

The Goodwill Ambassadors also presented their work over the past year and discussed their experiences. Another highlight of this year’s meeting was the performance by the troupe “Al Buggaa”, directed by Mr. Ali Mahdi Nouri, UNESCO Artist for Peace.

The UNESCO Goodwill Ambassadors are an outstanding group of celebrity advocates who have generously accepted to use their talent and status to help focus the world’s attention on the Organization’s mission. They extend and amplify UNESCO’s work in its fields of education, culture, science, communication and information.

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