2. Harmonica Festival - Parnu , Estonia
Posted by: "toptotpot"
Date: Wed Aug 8, 2007 2:10 pm ((PDT))
Philip and I attended The Baltic-Nordic Harmonica Festival, Estonia in July 07, which was absolutely fantastic, for me one of the best harmonica festivals in the world. The festival combines a welcoming atmosphere with spectacular organisation and quite a few enthusiastic townsfolk.
This was my third time attending the festival. Philip was invited to take part as a guest by the organisers after Jean Louis Emmenecker, who was due to attend as a special guest, was unable to.
We arrived at Tallinn Airport on Wednesday 25th July 2007 at 2200 hours. We were met by a festival organiser and were driven to the town of Parnu (home of the festival), which was about a two hour drive from Tallinn airport.
Each time we have been to Parnu, someone comes to pick us up, for no fee. No matter what time we touch down, they were waiting for us.
All overseas visitors taking part in the festival are treated as such.
The festival ran over three days. There were two concerts and many visitors were invited to take part. There were also a couple of social gatherings in a pub or restaurant in the evenings throughout the three days of the festival. At these gatherings there were impromptu open mic sessions where everyone was encouraged to take part.
The harmonica competitions were held on Friday and Saturday. There wasn't a winner's cup, but all competitors got a very nice framed certificate and souvenir gifts to take home (what we Brits would call a "Goody Bag"). There was a 1000 EURO prize for the overall winner of the Festival.
I would encourage visitors who play the harmonica not take themselves too seriously and to take part in the competitions. On Sunday the last day of the festival – there was a sound check in the morning followed by lunch at the Hotel Estonia, after which we all met up at the Town Hall for the procession through town. There was a brass band and a chorus of harmonica players.
The town's people were out in force to cheer on the harmonica players. Many of the on-lookers even joined in the celebratory march. It was fun to see this body of people making its way through the streets of Parnu to the open-air theatre, where an audience was already seated and waiting for the final concert, prize giving and closing ceremony.
The organisers and their supporters did their very best to make all visitors feel welcome. All overseas visitors are met at the airport, taken to their hotel, and on the day of their departure (usually a Monday), arrange for a mini bus to get them to the airport on time for their flight home.
If you decide to attend the "Baltic-Nordic Harmonica Festival, Estonia" in 2008, I recommend you stay a few extra days and enjoy the wonderful beach, peace and tranquillity of Parnu. And if you can, you should also try to spend a few days in Tallinn and visit the Old Town.
April Fay Roberts (Philip Achille's Mother)