Estonia's Minister of Education and Research Mailis Reps opened the XVIII dance and singing festival Gaudeamus in Tartu. The international festival brings 4500 performers of light, dance, music and choral singing together from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Reps' opening speech below
Dear singers, dancers and instrumentalists, honoured guests!
The Wheel of Time born in Kassitoome Park out of the incantation of choirs is the flame that sparked thousands of torches which accompanied people here - to the opening celebration of the 18thGaudeamus. 4,500 young dancers, singers and instrumentalists have come to Tartu for today and the following days of the festival. This demonstrates just how actively students are engaged in preserving their folklore and traditions.
The student festival opened today is a milestone in the celebration of the 100thanniversary of our countries. For a hundred years, we have managed to hold onto our freedom and sovereignty and 27 years ago we managed to restore our independence. Gaudeamus has played its role in the freedom movement of Baltic countries - in 1988 at the Gaudeamus in Vilnius, people carried national flags to the festival for the first time.
It is significant that the Gaudeamus which marks the jubilee year is held in its birthplace - the City of Tartu. The festival started by the legendary choirmaster Richard Ritsing in 1956 has evolved into a strong and viable tradition. For that we thank the maestro who has moved on to the great beyond and the City of Tartu - the organiser of the first and the current festival. Every tradition that is nurtured evolves over time and so the joint song and dance festivals across generations of students have become one of the most beautiful symbols of Baltic cooperation.
Traditions and customs change in time and this Gaudeamus is certainly different from the first one held in Tartu. However, one thing has remained unchanged - the joy of making music and dancing together. I am truly grateful to all choirmasters, callers and conductors who have helped to keep the flame of Gaudeamus alive in good times and in not so good ones. The gratitude for your efforts is visible in the eyes of all young people and festival visitors present!
Singing, dancing and playing of instruments requires good teamwork built on mutual understanding, friendship and solidarity so as to offer a thrilling experience to the audience. Friendship ties forged through creative arts bond us and often last for life, so nurture and appreciate them!
Now is the lightest and most beautiful time of year. Yesterday was the summer solstice - the longest day with practically no darkness. Tomorrow we can celebrate the Midsummer’s Eve with the night dance party Midsummer Night Mystery held for the first time in Estonia. The mystery of Midsummer Night sows the seeds for small as well as big miracles.
I wish good luck to all artists and hope to see the spark in your eyes - you are part of this Midsummer Night miracle! Long live Baltic universities, our countries and our nations, long live all students! Long live the student spirit that upholds and carries traditions! Vivat, crescat, floreat Gaudeamus!