One of the best-known chamber choirs in the world, the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir has emphasized the music of Estonian composers. With a history of excellence, the EPCC has worked with many of the top ensembles and conductors throughout the world.
The Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir was founded in 1981 by Tõnu Kaljuste as a professional successor to his father Heino Kaljuste’s amateur chamber choir Ellerhein. The younger Kaljuste nurtured the ensemble as its principal conductor and artistic director for 20 years, focusing the group’s programs and recordings on music by Estonian composers, primarily Arvo Pärt and Veljo Tormis, although its full repertoire ranges from Gregorian chant and gems of the Baroque and Classical periods to contemporary compositions. The EPCC won the top prize at the 1991 Takarazuka Chamber Choir Competition in Japan and received its first Grammy nomination two years later for Te Deum. Kaljuste remains involved with the choir as its honorary conductor.
Under Paul Hillier (2001-2007), the ensemble’s reputation grew more widely, even as he expanded its repertoire. Under his direction, it produced a highly praised series of recordings entitled Baltic Voices and won a Grammy in 2006 for Da Pacem. In 2008, Daniel Reuss became the EPCC’s chief conductor and artistic director. Their first recording together was of Frank Martin’s oratorio Golgotha, released in 2010. Kaspars Putniņš was named the EPCC’s chief conductor and artistic director in 2014. The EPCC, under Putniņš, won a Gramophone award in 2018 for its recording of works by Pärt and Alfred Schnittke.
The EPCC has enjoyed a long and mutually beneficial collaboration with the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra. A highlight of this relationship is the 2012 album Arvo Pärt: Adam's Lament, conducted by Kaljuste, which resulted in the EPCC’s second Grammy award in 2014. Along with its partnership with the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, the EPCC has an extensive history of partnerships throughout the world. It has worked with well-renowned conductors, including Claudio Abbado, Neeme Järvi, and Sir Colin Davis, and orchestras, such as the London Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Frankfurt Radio Symphony, among others.
The EPCC has recorded over 40 albums, primarily for the Harmonia Mundi, ECM, and Ondine labels. In 2019, it released an album of sacred works by Liszt and Pärt on Ondine. ~ Patsy Morita & Keith Finke