The Musical Event as a Potential Tool for Integration of Ethnic Groups in Estonia

Triinu Ojamaa and Julia Sulina (Estonian Literary Museum)

It is a matter of fact in musicology that music, which is, first of all, a source of emotional enjoyment, also serves some social functions. According to Hargreaves and North, we use music to communicate with each other; it is possible for people from widely differing cultural backgrounds to establish contact through music, even though the languages they speak may be quite incomprehensible to one another.

Communication is primarily realized over the course of musical performances, and it can take place between performers, between members of the audience, and between performers and their audience. About 100 open-air music festivals take place every year in Estonia; the genres vary from folk fusion to global pop and classical music. The festivals—at least theoretically—have great potential to integrate music-lovers of different ethnic backgrounds. We argue that, in practice, most of the festivals do not function as tools for such integration, because their audiences consist primarily of ethnic Estonians.

Based upon observations of thirty such festivals, we analyze the attitudes of Russian-speaking minority groups toward such music festivals. Our goal is to identify those features of the festivals and of performances themselves that would make these events more attractive for audiences of different backgrounds, and thus offering possibilities for individual and groups to meet and communicate.

Comments are closed.