Sunday, 22 January 2017

Legendary Estonian composer Veljo Tormis has died aged 86

Estonia lost a class act today. Veljo Tormis was an Estonian composer who was deeply in tune with his country’s vital tradition of choral singing and ancient folk culture. He was born in Kuusalu in 1930 and studied in the Tallinn and later Moscow Conservatories before going into teaching. (Arvo Pärt was among his students). During his career Veljo Tormis produced over 500 individual choral songs. Tormis was internationally regarded as one of the greatest choral music writers, and one of the most important composers of the 20th century in Estonia.

Many of Tormis’ works are written for choirs and based on an ancient form of Estonian folk song called regilaul. He once said: “National music can also convey religious feelings; it often represents pre-Christian forms of spirituality, which should also be important and meaningful in our integrating world. Old Estonian runo songs certainly communicate the nature worship and rituals of prehistoric times.”

'Forgotten Peoples' is one of his most famous works.

For those unfamiliar with the work Veljo Tormis, here is some additional background information. Veljo Tormis - Biography

Estonian Winter Festival of Lights

Tonight spruces across Estonia will be set ablaze in the annual Winter Lights Festival. This is a long standing tradition where old Christmas trees and other sculptures made from spruce and straw spectacularly light up the night sky.   This year there will be a Guinness World Record attempt and people are encouraged to share their photos on Facebook. Many parades are due to take place at multiple venues from 6 pm.

For more information (in Estonian) click here: Pühapäeval toimub Tallinnas talvine valgusfestival

Friday, 20 January 2017

Increase in oil prices breathes new life into Estonia’s oil shale industry - ERR NEWS

Both Enefit Kaevandused, the mining subsidiary of state-owned energy group Eesti Energia, and VKG Kaevandused, the mining subsidiary of shale oil and chemicals producer VKG, are planning on increasing output this year.

The Estonia mine has switched over to a seven-day workweek, which means that mining is now underway there 24/7. On Thursday, journalists were given an overview of the longwall mining technology which will allow the company to reduce mining costs, reported ETV news broadcast "Aktuaalne kaamera."

Ahti Puur, chairman of the board at Enefit Kaevandused, explained that the new technology would allow for a one-third reduction in the number of employees working a mine compared to previous technology. As output has increased, however, the increase in mining efficiency has not meant a reduction in the number of jobs.

"We believe we will stick with the current workforce at Enefit Kaevandus, which is approximately 2,300 employees," said Eesti Energia board member Andres Vainola. "If we compare with the most difficult period, i.e. during 2015, when we laid off nearly 350 people in the mines, then we have hired just under 100 to replace them yet have achieved pre-market decline production capacities. We do not currently plan on hiring more employees, however no layoffs are planned either."

As a listed company, Eesti Energia will publish the mining volumes of its mines in its annual report at the end of February. According to Vainola, however, last year’s mining values were approximately 10 percent greater than in the year before. In 2015, the company mined 15.5 million tons of commercial oil shale.

VKG’s Ojamaa mine is switching over to a six-day workweek as they are seeking to increase output from last year’s 2.3 million tons of commercial oil shale to 3.9 million tons this year.

A total of 500 people currently work at the Ojamaa mine, but the increase in production volume will allow for them to hire an additional 35 employees in February. The company hopes to create a total of 65 new jobs at the mine this year.

"We have never had so many employees working at the mine and we are indeed increasing our output," noted VKG board chairman Ahti Asmann. "When we reopened Kiviter, then it was largely those we had been forced to lay off that came to work [there], but there are also new people involved and more young people are entering the sector as well."

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

My cinnamon roll recipe

There wouldn't be a bakery in Estonia that doesn't sell cinnamon rolls. They are a popular tasty treat enjoyed by all. Here is my recipe that was recently published in the UK's Take a Break Magazine. Cinnamon rolls are inexpensive and very easy to make! 

Monday, 16 January 2017

Estonia ranked 11th most competitive country in the world

Estonia has achieved an excellent result in the 2016 Global Sustainable Competitiveness Index conducted by SolAbility. Now ranked 11th in the world Estonia follows closely behind its Scandinavian neighbours who top the list.

The Global Sustainable Competitiveness Index (GSCI) aims to evaluate the ability to sustain wealth creation. It is based on a competitiveness model that incorporates all pillars of sustained growth and wealth creation: natural capital availability; national governance (the framework in which all players operation - the outcomes of policy directions and investments, e.g. the availability of infrastructure); intellectual capital (innovation and business capabilities); resource efficiency, and social cohesion. The Sustainable Competitiveness Index also integrates data trends over time to allow for a better expression of future development potential.

Based on these factors each country is given a score out of 100. This year Estonia achieved 11th place with a score of 53.6 while Sweden topped the list with a score of 60.9.

Scandinavian countries dominated the top spots.

To read more about the report, please click here: Global Sustainable Competiveness Ranking 2016

Friday, 13 January 2017

New national brand concept launched today for Estonia

An Estonian design team have come up with a new brand for Estonia. The concept is based on three adjectives: open, smart, and active, characteristics illustrating both the nature of the country and its people.

Estonia is known mostly for its digital ambition but there’s a lot more to discover about this beautiful country. To read the overview of the new branding concept, please click here: Estonia: A land of independent minds 

Watch 'Brand Estonia' here:

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Cool Estonian postcards

I recently bought these postcards at the Estonian Maritime Museum in Tallinn. They are so good that I just had to share!