Jazzkaar 2020 took place against all odds, with over 9,000 visits

Antarctica 200. Photo: Siiri Padar

Last week, Jazzkaar 2020 festival was concluded with the spectacular concert performance Antarctica 200, combining music with visuals from the icy continent. Over the six festival days, 27 fascinating concerts were performed by artists from six countries. Along with additional programmes, almost 100 music events were organised during the festival, yielding over 9,000 visits in total.

The 31st Tallinn International Jazzkaar Festival took place from 9 until 15 October 2020, offering extraordinary musical experiences at two venues in Telliskivi Creative City, Vaba Lava and Fotografiska Tallinn. Beloved Estonian artists and international stars gave concerts in Tallinn, Tartu and Pärnu. Jazz music reached the different places in Estonia through the Urban Project and the audience was also treated to free concerts. In total, almost 100 events took place with the help of 80 volunteers. Regardless of the current situation due to COVID-19, the festival yielded over 9,000 visits, with more than 6,000 music lovers buying concert tickets.

“The elevated emotions of this year’s Jazzkaar will not subside anytime soon. We were able to bring local and also international jazz stars to our loyal listeners, proving that even in difficult times it is possible to responsibly offer cultural experiences and bring a spark in the audience’s eyes. We are grateful to the musicians, volunteers, partners, supporters and our brilliant audience for working together, so that we were all able to enjoy a heartfelt and safe festival,” comments Anne Erm, leader of the festival.

Performing to a full house were Kristjan Randalu and Vaiko Eplik, celebrating the 10th anniversary of their first musical encounter; Rita Ray, a singer who has ascended to the sky of Estonian soul music, and her ensemble; the soulful singer-songwriter Anett and the international group of musicians led by composer Raun Juurikas, who concluded this year’s Jazzkaar with the special project Antarctica 200. Most talked about and also receiving most feedback were Norway’s most popular jazz vocalist Silje Nergaard and piano virtuoso Espen Berg; the magical Scandinavian supergroup Rymden, performing tracks from their new LP Space Sailors only for the second time in Europe, and Niklas Paschburg, combining electronic and classical music into an exciting whole. All Estonian artists also received praise. Local jazz musicians performed new programmes and presented fresh albums at both free jazz and more traditional jazz concerts. Singer Kadri Voorand celebrated the 15th anniversary of her debut at Jazzkaar with a special project that also included string instruments, while Liisi Koikson celebrated 15 years since the release of her popular debut album.

In addition to the main programme, young musicians gave concerts around Tallinn, Tartu, Pärnu and Viljandi as part of the Urban Project from 5 until 15 October, visited by nearly 2,000 people. On 10 and 11 October people in Tallinn were treated to vibrant musical experiences at free concerts as well as exciting jazz talks addressing the current situation of artists in a changed world and introducing the behind-the-scenes of the music industry. Participants in the discussions included Kadri Voorand, Kristjan Randalu, Maarja Nuut, Henrik Ehte, Raun Juurikas, Timo Palo among others. In addition, the record market, music quiz and photo exhibitions of jazz stars in cooperation with Viru Keskus provided excitement and joy of discovery.

The festival received a spectacular final chord on 15 October with the epic masterpiece Antarctica 200, where the composer Raun Juurikas combined the sounds from the Antarctic landscape recorded during the expedition of the sailing ship “Admiral Bellingshausen” into a single whole with electronics, jazz and classical sounds. Performing at the event with Estonian jazz pianist, composer, arranger and music producer Raun Juurikas were Norwegian award-winning trumpeter, vocalist and composer Arve Henriksen, Swiss percussionist Brian Quinn and the Chamber Choir of the Veronika Portsmuth Choir Academy conducted by Veronika Portsmuth. The sound experience was complemented by the unearthly visuals created by CJ Kask. Commenting on how the essence of Antarctica was captured in sound language, polar traveller Timo Palo described the authenticity of the experience: “The final concert of Jazzkaar was like an audiovisual journey that took us back to the White Continent. As befits a polar journey, there were moments of different emotions: there was an unearthly mystery of the ice; there was losing yourself and then finding again; there was cold and iciness, and there was recovering of one’s courage and also bright peaks. These are the emotions that often accompany a polar traveller, and a true polar journey is indeed like a kaleidoscope of emotions.”

For the sixth consecutive year the festival hub was set up in Telliskivi Creative City. This year the festival tent with an information point and a larger general area welcomed visitors in front of Fotografiska Tallinn. Elated festival emotions were supported by the excellent work of light and sound artists. Festival photographers captured artists’ performances and the festival atmosphere on 1,500 photos that can be viewed on the festival’s Flickr account. Over 30 articles, audience polls and interviews conducted with the artists by the media team of volunteers are available on the Jazzkaar website.

Festival Jazzkaar 2021 will take place from 16 until 25 April 2021. Already confirmed to be performing at the festival are the Grammy-winning singer Cécile McLorin Salvant, Grammy-nominated drummer Jamison Ross (USA), soul and R&B artist with a velvety vocal style, Avery*Sunshine (USA) and many others. Tickets are available at Piletilevi sales points and online at

Jazzkaar 2020 in numbers:
– 27 concerts in the main programme;
– over 50 concerts in the Urban Project;
– 12 events on the free concert days;
– three Jazz Talks;
– two photo exhibitions;
– approximately 100 music events;
– musicians from six countries;
– more than 6,000 visits in the main programme;
– 1970 visits in the Urban Project;
– over 400 visits of the free concerts;
– over 9,000 visits in total;
– six concert locations around Estonia;
– over 30 articles, audience polls and interviews conducted by the media team Jazzkaar;
– over 1,500 photographs from the festival.

Press photographs of the festival can be found here.

Main programme of Jazzkaar 2020 Festival:
Antarctica 200 Raun Juurikas, Arve Henriksen (Norway), Brian Quinn (Switzerland) & Chamber Choir of Veronika Portsmuth Choir Academy; Anett; Dee Dee Bridgewater (USA) & Estonian Dream Big Band; Dirty Loops (Sweden), Hanna-Liina Võsa; Niklas Paschburg (Germany); NOËP; Ivi Rausi & Laura Põldvere; Jason Hunter Group (Estonia); JT Conception; Kadri Voorand Chamber Music Ensemble; Liisi Koikson; Peedu Kass – Theodor Sink; Raul Ukareda; Ramuel Tafenau; Rita Ray; Rymden feat. Bugge Wesseltoft, Dan Berglund, Magnus Öström (Norway–Sweden); Siim Aimla Funk Band; Silje Nergaard & Espen Berg; Sooäär–Yaralyan–Ounaskari (Estonia–Finland); The Free Musketeers; Vaiko Eplik & Kristjan Randalu and many more!

The main sponsors of the festival are JURA, Jazz Pesulad and Eesti Päevaleht. Annual sponsors are My City Hotel, BMW, Tallink and Aktaprint. The concert of the legendary jazz singer Dee Dee Bridgewater will be presented by Viru Keskus. Prike, Telliskivi Creative City and Fotografiska Tallinn help set up the festival hub. We are also supported by Reval Café, Overall, MyFitness, Kodupaber, NOBE and Estonian Public Broadcasting. The Embassy of Sweden and Embassy of Norway help us bring the musicians of their countries to Estonia. We would like to thank the Estonian Ministry of Culture, Cultural Endowment of Estonia, City of Tallinn and Enterprise Estonia for their support.


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