The Estonian National Male Choir is one of the best-known Estonian music ensembles in the world. The Estonian National Male Choir was founded in 1944 by Estonian choral conductor and composer Gustav Ernesaks. Having sung mostly a cappella during its early years, Estonian National Male Choir has grown into a world-famous professional choir that often performs large symphonic compositions.
Estonian National Male Choir frequently records for Estonian National Broadcasting and has collaborated with such labels as Deutsche Grammophon, Sony, Finlandia, Alba Records, GB Records, Virgin Classics, Aurora and Ondine.
In 2004 choir was awarded the Grammy award for the best choral performance, first for Estonia (Sibelius’ cantatas, in collaboration with Ellerhein choir, Estonian National Symphony Orchestra and conductor Paavo Järvi). During last seven years the choir has released five CDs, including “In Paradisum” with compositions by Galina Grigoryeva, which in 2015 won the award for the best classical album in Estonia. In 2016 „Te lucis ante terminum“- recording with music by Norwegian composer Henrik Ødegaard was released by Aurora label. In 2018, choir participated in the recording of Shostakovich’s 13th symphony (for Sony with Dresden Philharmonics and Michael Sanderling), and “Kullervo” by Sibelius (for Ondine with Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra and Hannu Lintu).
“REGIRAM” is the most recent release, a recording of the choir and an ensemble (Celia Roose, Tuule Kann, Robert Jürjendal) presenting the arrangements of Estonian ancient monotonic tunes (regilaul). In 2021 the choir has finished the recording sessions with the music of Giovanni Bonato, Giovanni Gabrieli, Erkki-Sven Tüür, Pēteris Vasksi and Justė Janulytė.
Starting from the 2011 / 2012 season Estonian National Male Choir is led by chief conductor and artistic director Mikk Üleoja. The list of previous conductors includes Harald Uibo, Uno Järvela, Olev Oja, Kuno Areng, Ants Üleoja, Ants Soots, and Kaspars Putniņš, complemented by collaborations with orchestral conductors such as Neeme Järvi, Paavo Järvi, Kristjan Järvi, Eri Klas, Gennady Rozhdestvensky, Riccardo Muti, Paavo Berglund, Leif Segerstam, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Jukka-Pekka Saraste, Saulius Sondeckis, Michael Sanderling, Gintaras Rinkevicius, Arvo Volmer, Eivind Gullberg Jensen, Marko Letonja and others. The choir’s repertoire spans from renaissance to contemporary. Besides many Estonian composers, Estonian National Male Choir has premiered compositions by such luminaries as Dmitri Shostakovich, Otar Taktakshvili, Gavin Bryars and Giovanni Bonato.
The Estonian National Male Choir is a regular guest at leading orchestras, festivals and concert halls, such as the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin, Konzerthausorchester Berlin, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Minnesota Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, Tonhalleorchester Zürich, Konzerthaus Dortmund, Bergen Festival, Musikfest Berlin, Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival or the Usedom Music Festival.
In 2015 Estonian National Male Choir and Mikk Üleoja were awarded the State Cultural Award, marking the choir’s remarkable performances.