Records available

CD canto:). Hortus Musicus

DVD In the Mystical Land of Kaydara. Peeter Vähi

DVD Coppélia. A ballet by Léo Delibes

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CD Quarter of a Century with Friends. Arsis, Rémi Boucher, Oliver Kuusik, Rauno Elp

Super Audio CD Maria Magdalena. Sevara Nazarkhan, Riga Dom Cathedral Boys Choir, State Choir Latvija, Latvian National Symphony Orchestra

CD Jerusalem. Hortus Musicus

LP Contra aut pro? Toomas Velmet, Neeme Järvi, Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, Arvo Pärt

CD The Soul of Fire. Age Juurikas



An African initiation rite

An African initiation rite for vocal soloists, narrator, girls’ choir, male choir, symphony orchestra and optional visuals.

− To Kaydara leydi muuɗum kaawnoyiindi
walaa neɗɗanke waawoya darna hiɓɓa
fa anndina en nde wannoo maa ɗo wonnoo.
Yo caggal kaaƴe njoordii duuɓi seeɗa
tawi jinnaji asidii maaje tildii.
Hammadi ruuyti yehi daroyii e boowal,
nde oolol kanŋinoowol fooyni yeeso
hono ndee fooyre yaynata Laamɗo Ɗokko.

− It was in the mysterious, distant country of Kaydara
which no one can locate exactly
nor tell us when or where the story took place.
It was only a few years after the mountains had hardened,
when the world-forces were just finishing carving out the river beds.
Hesitating, Hammadi advanced to a large crossroads and stopped
at the hour when a soft golden glimmering shone on the horizon
like the aura that lights the One-Eyed King.

Title in Fulani To Leydi Kaydara kaawoyniindi / in English In the Mystical Land of Kaydara / in Estonian Müstilisel Kaydara-maal
Lyrics in Fulani language by Amadou Hampâté Bâ (1901−1991)
Narrator’s text in Estonian, English, Fulani or French
Estonian translation of lyrics Eva Diallo (Bamako, Mali)
Estonian lyrics adapted and edited by Karin Kastehein
Duration ca 60 min

LogoKaydaraMovement I: ... After the Mountains Had Hardened
Movement II: Journey to the Underworld
Movement III: Before the Throne of Kaydara player fragm, live, 3 min 15 sec, mp3, 320 Kbps
Movement IV: Gold, a Lot of Gold
Movement V: The Death of Demburu and Hamtuudo player fragm, live, 3 min 58 sec, mp3, 320 Kbps
Movement VI: Coronation of Hammadi
Movement VII: The Mystery of Kaydara player fragm, live, 4 min 55 sec, mp3, 320 Kbps

In the Mystical Land of Kaydara is an epic-like traditional tale of the Fulani or Fula people, who live in Mali, Senegal and some regions in Western Africa. This originally oral history was compiled and written down in the Fulani language by a Malian writer and ethnologist Amadou-Hampâté Bâ (1901–1991).
The story of the land of Kaydara is in its essence a description of an initiation rite, a story of consecration − a person, who is deemed worthy gets to know something that others never will. His or her social status is elevated and he or she is given bigger power. But in order to prove their readiness and capability, they must undergo certain tests and trials.
And so, three friends − Hammadi, Hamtudo and Demburu − start their journey towards the mystical land of Kaydara. It is a world of shadows ruled by the invisible Kaydara − the god of knowledge and gold (it is believed that the name Kaydara means ‘purpose’ or ‘end’).
On this journey they encounter different symbols, but the only one who can notice and give important meaning to these symbols is Hammadi. He is also the only one of the three friends, who follows Kaydara's advice derived from the laws of nature and ancestors experience.
Kaydara gives the friends a lot of gold for their journey. They are warned about the ambiguity of this gesture − the gold can bring them riches and well-being but it can also be a destructive force. Once again, Hammadi is the only one of the three friends who is able to maintain a clear head when faced against challenges, foreseeing that gold, when used wisely, can be helpful in acquiring new knowledge. And so he is blessed to live in happiness and contentment and becomes a great ruler without ever desiring it.
Many of Peeter Vähi’s earlier works have been inspired by distant and exotic places. For example, the cantatas Supreme Silence and Green Tārā are directly related to his repeated stays in Tibetan and Himalayan Buddhist monasteries; percussion concerto Call of Sacred Drums is a result of collaboration with Japanese taiko-drummers; the inspiration for Antartic Concerto is not hard to guess; Mary Magdalene Gospel, lasting more than an hour, was composed after visiting former Coptic churches in Ethiopia. Such is the case for this composition as well − the idea of the piece started growing on the expedition African Round, took the author through 27 African countries in 2012 and 2013. Therefore, Kaydara isn’t technically composed sitting behind a desk or a piano, but is rather Vähi's African experiences and impressions that have taken the form of music.
Peeter Vähi doesn’t directly use Fulani folk tunes in this composition, but the exotic colouring is given by the Fulani language and African rhythms. In addition, the percussion arsenal of the symphony orchestra was complemented with various instruments that the composer brought with him from numerous trips to Africa.


First performers: Tanel Padar (narrator), Mati Turi (Demburu − tenor), Rauno Elp (Hammadi − baritone), Priit Volmer (Hamtuudo − basso), Girls’ Choir Ellerhein (chorus master Ingrid Kõrvits), Estonian National Male Choir RAM, Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, conductor Mihhail Gerts, visual design by Robin Nõgisto and Jaanus Nõgisto

Commissioned by Estonian National Concert Institute Eesti Kontsert
Supported by Tiit Pruuli

Premières on Oct 10th, 2015, in Vanemuine Concert Hall, Tartu, Estonia, and on Oct 11th, in Estonia Concert Hall, Tallinn
Premiere live broadcasting and audio-recording by Estonian Public Broadcasting (ERR), premiere live video recording by Jüri Tallinn and Viking Film

The next performance: Feb 18th, 2017 at Shanghai Symphony Hall, China, performers − Shanghai Opera House Chorus, Estonian National Male Choir, Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, conductor Kristjan Järvi


Vocal soloists − tenor, baritone, basso (in Fulani language)
Girls’ choir SS-AA (in Fulani Language)
Male choir TT-BB (in Fulani Language)
2 Piccolo flutes
2 Oboes
English horn
Piccolo clarinet in E-flat
Clarinet in B-flat
Baritone saxophone in E-flat
Double bassoon
4 French horns in F
3 Trumpets in C
3 Trombones
Marimbaphone (4.6 octave)
Kettle drums (set of 5 instruments – 20'', 23'', 26'', 29'', 32'')
3 percussionists − Splash cymbal, Thunder sheet, 2 African drums, 2 African maracas, Rain stick, Bamboo wind chime, Axatse-rattle, 200-litre fuel Drum (= barrel / container), Gran cassa, Hand claps
1st Violins (divisi in 2)
2nd Violins (divisi in 2)
Violas (divisi in 2)
Cellos (divisi in 2)
Double basses (divisi in 2)
Visuals on the LCD-screen or backdrop (ad libitum)

Download fragments of the score: Mov I (pages 13−24, PDF A3); Mov V (pages 7−22, PDF A3)
Download the lyrics of the work (8 pages A4, PDF)
Download liner notes by Karin Kastehein (in Estonian, 2 pages A4, PDF)
player listen to the whole live recording (ERR, engineered by Tanel Klesment), 1 h 1 min 35 sec, mp3, 320 Kbps

Press resonance

Things get more colourful still with Estonian composer Peeter Vähi’s oratorio, In the Mystical Land of Kaydara, a musical interpretation of the West African Fula people’s national epic. The story tells of three friends in the mysterious realm of knowledge and gold, ruled by invisible god Kaydara. Vähi found inspiration while travelling in Africa, and brought back instruments to complement his percussion section, as well as the accompanying video. This concert is perfect for those who want something more than the same old thing. (Nancy Pellegrini, Time Out, 14.02.17, China)

Dass bei dieser Reise nach Kaydara nie der Eindruck pittoresker Exotik aufkommt, verdankt sich zum einen dem kulturenübergreifenden Charakter des Themas, zum anderen der Tatsache, dass der Komponist Peeter Vähi lange Afrikaaufenthalte hinter sich hat und sich deshalb nicht von Oberflächenphänomenen blenden lässt. Seine Musiksprache ist einfach und bewegt sich im weiten Feld der Tonalität, afrikanische Perkussionsinstrumente sind dezent in den Orchesterklang eingearbeitet. Die holzschnittartig geformte Musik und die oratorische Besetzung samt Sprecher verleihen der archaischen Erzählung scharfe Konturen, und mit den suggestiv bewegten Bildern von Jüri Tallinn verbindet sich die Musik zu einer aussagekräftigen Bild-Ton-Montage. Dominierend ist das Verfahren, unterschiedliche Realität- und Bewusstseinsebenen durch Überblendung übereinanderzulegen. Das erinnert an die These der “diaphanen” Bewusstseinsschichten, wie sie der Kulturphilosoph Jean Gebser einst formuliert hat. (Max Nyffeler, Beckmesser, 23.12.17, Germany, whole article)

Peeter Vähi oratoorium... pakkus nüüd ka eestlastele võimaluse erinevate meeltega kaasa elada “Kaydara” eepose sõnumile, mis on ju aktuaalne ka siin põhjamaal 21. sajandil. ... esietendusel Estonia kontserdisaalis oli kohal ka Eva Diallo. Ta tunnistas, et teos oli väga mõjuv. (Tiina Kangro, Linnaleht, 03./04.12.15, Estonia)

... Vähi sai idee Aafrika ekspeditsioonil aastatel 2012−2013, mille raames läbiti 24 riiki. Pärimuste kõrval on kasutatud palju helilooja isiklikke muljeid ja läbielamisi selle füüsiliselt ja moraalselt väga raske retke jooksul. ... enam kui 200-liikmeline kooslus, kuhu kuuluvad Eesti Rahvusmeeskoor, tütarlastekoor Ellerhein, Eesti Riiklik Sümfooniaorkester koos laiendatud etniliste löökpillide rühmaga. ... grandioossele muusikateosele loovad videolavastusliku poole isa ja poeg Jaanus ja Robin Nõgisto... Visuaalse poole eesmärgiks on luua muusikale müstiline atmosfäär, mis viiks kuulajad-vaatajad loo sisse. (Sirp, 09.10.15, Estonia)

... “Müstilisel Kaydara-maal” aluseks olid tükikesed fula eeposest, kus juttu kolme noore mehe initsiatsiooniriitusest, nende teekonnast varjude maailma, mille valitsejaks on teadmiste ja kulla jumalus Kaydara. /.../ “Kaydara-maa” esiettekanne oli Estonia kontserdisaalis 2015 ja paar aastat hiljem kutsus Shanghai sümfooniaorkester Peeter Vähi koos oma teose ja Eesti rahvusmeeskooriga Hiinasse. Sinna sõitis ka tõlkija Eva Diallo ning läksin minagi sest sündmusest osa saama. Ma ei imesta, et hiinlased tahtsid Peetri Aafrika-ainelist oopust Shanghais etendada. Esiteks on see muidugi väga põnev ja universaalne muusikateos, mida sobib esitada kõikjal maailmas. (Tiit Pruuli, Minu maailm. Romantiku(te) heitlused, 2017, Estonia)

Peeter Vähi on muusikasse pannud Lääne-Aafrika eeposelaadse pärimusloo, mille lauluosad kantakse ette fulani keeles. Muusikat toetavad visuaalsed lahendused Jaanus Nõgisto juhtimisel ning Tanel Padari jutustatavad narratiivsed tekstid eesti keeles. (Hendrik Alla, Postimees. Kultuur, 07.09.15, Estonia)

... ainus helilooja Eestis, kes on loonud muusikat sanskriti-, jaapani-, tiibeti ja koptikeelsetele tekstidele, leidis pea pooleaastasel Aafrika-ekspeditsioonil inspiratsiooni Malis elava väikerahva fulanide rahvuseeposest, mille ainetel valmis initsiatsiooniriitus “Müstilisel Kaydara-maal”. ... on vaja väga suurt esitusaparaati – osaleb üle 200 muusiku: kolm meessolisti /.../, kaks koori ja sümfooniaorkester. Lauldakse fulani keeles... (Stin Eilsen, Go Reisiajakiri, 5 / 2015, Estonia)

In January 2017 released DVD In the Mystical Land of Kaydara (video by Jüri Tallinn). Still images from the DVD

KaydaraPic2 KaydaraPic3

See also:
List of main works by Peeter Vähi
Mary Magdalene Gospel
Call of Sacred Drums
Guitar concerto No 2 Antarctic Concerto