Thursday, November 20, 2014

American composer is a hit in Estonia...

American composer is a hit in Estonia...  My mom knows that I love all things Estonian, so when she read this article about Susan Nelson, she sent it along to me.  Susan is a composer of music for hand-rung bells and guitar, like the piece Avalon in the video at right.  She's a resident of Hamilton, New Jersey, near the farm I grew up on.

Estonia comes into this story in an interesting way.  For it to make sense, you have to understand that music has a very special place in Estonian culture.  For its size (Estonia has just 1.5 million people), Estonia has an amazingly diverse and intense music scene, including several symphony orchestras, dozens of music schools, and more music venues than you can shake a stick at.  The 1991 peaceful revolution that earned Estonia its independence is called “The Singing Revolution” because of the central role that music and song played in unifying the Estonian people.  Estonians are as serious about their music as they are about their beer (with more breweries per capita than any other country on earth).

Estonian musicians noticed Susan's work, and started playing it.  Her pieces became quite popular there.  As that article relates, Susan didn't even know about this until an Estonian conductor wrote her on Facebook a few years ago.  Last year, the Estonians honored her with a concert of her own work (on YouTube) – an “Author’s Concert”.

What a great story!  And now at least two Americans from Hamilton Township, New Jersey have been to Estonia :)


  1. Thanks for the great blog article! Actually, there are at least 3 Hamilton residents that have been to Estonia because my sister came with me! We had a wonderful time and fell in love with the the people, country and their culture. I thought you'd like to know that we are bringing Campanelli Handbell Ensemble, Inna Lai, conductor to NJ in July, 2017... and so the story continues! :-)

  2. Since you like all things Estonian: If you happen to be in Hamilton, NJ this weekend, Campanelli Handbell Ensemble of Tallinn is performing this Sunday, July 23, 2017 at 7:00 pm. I brought them to the USA! :-) The concert features works by Estonian composers.