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Veronika Portsmuth leading seminar on Estonian choral music.

EANC members took part in the third biennial KLENK-IEP cruise March 2-10 on Royal Caribbean’s Adventure of the Seas. EANC President Marju Rink-Abel and Washington, DC Director Karin Shuey were aboard to join in the festivities and represent EANC. The group of approximately 400 KLENK-IEP participants was made up of both Estonians living abroad, primarily from the U.S. and Canada, and performers and their families from Estonia. The 8-day agenda included performances and seminars on days the ship was at sea, an Esto beach party at the cruise line’s private resort in Labadee, Haiti, an academic lunch, a salakõrts, and opportunities for bonding in smaller groups during port calls and around the ship.



JBANC-State Department exhibit on display with KLENK-IEP staffers Peter and Susan Kopperman.  Photos by Karin Shuey and Ron Ingraham

Karin held a well-attended seminar titled EANC, Advocacy, and You. She covered the history of EANC and some of its past advocacy successes; other organizations it belongs to and works with; its current advocacy work, including the Baltic caucuses in the House and Senate; the top issues of concern for U.S. policy in the Baltic region; and how audience members could help advance U.S. policy related to Estonia and regional security. She also brought on board a miniature version of the exhibit she and JBANC created last year for display as part of the State Department’s recognition of the Baltic centennials, which was viewed with interest by both Estonians and members of the larger cruise population.

The program included several other lectures, as well. Anne-Ly Reimaa of the Estonian Ministry of Culture spoke about Nationalities and Ethnic Groups in Estonia Through the Centuries. Professor of Sociology Ain Haas gave a demonstration of Estonia’s unique folk instruments – the kannel (Estonian zither), Hiiu kannel (bowed lyre), and torupill (bagpipe). Distinguished choral director Veronika Portsmuth led a session on the evolution of Estonian choral music. There were also screenings of the films Seltsimees Laps and Coming Home Soon – The Refugee Children of Geislingen, followed by a discussion.


ChoirDancers1 4

Veronika Portsmuth Choral Academy choir and Märt Agu Dancers entertaining cruise audience.

The program’s highlights were two gala concerts featuring Veronika Portsmuth directing members of her Veronika Portsmuth Choral Academy choir, Märt Agu and his folkdance troupe, and the folk music ensemble LiULi. The Märt Agu Dancers perfectly executed traditional and modern interpretations of Estonian folkdance and the choir performed stirring renditions from a variety of Estonian choral genres. Thanks to cooperation among many KLENK-IEP participants and the ship’s staff to advertise the event, the concert toward the end of the cruise was played to a theater full of entertained Estonians and non-Estonians alike.

Marju noted that the trip was a successful venue for forging deeper understanding between kodueestlased and väliseestlased. On a personal level, she observed and participated in conversations between members of the two groups that eased the distance sometimes felt by those with very different experiences of their Estonian-ness. Participants at the lectures gained a better understanding of the history and current activities of Estonian Americans – a good addition to the global Estonian movement.

Karin Shuey
Washington, DC Director
Estonian American National Council


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