Conductor Notes:

In seeking to provide opportunities and promote the work of women composers in our Celebrating Women Composers project, I took the opportunity to introduce the singers and our audience to the writing of another of our own singers, Katrin Lohuaru. Katrin is a beautiful singer and highly creative person who started multitracking her own voice several years ago, building layered songs for women’s voices inspired by her Estonian heritage and the music of Veljo Tormis. I encouraged her to share several of her creations with me, and together we chose “Metsaluule (Forest Songs)” to be transcribed and rehearsed for the May concert. The repetitive and subtly-changing nature of the three melodies is meant to put singer and listener into a trance. Divisi ranges from SA to SSSSAA.

Composer / Arranger Notes:

This work was inspired by singing regilaul, an ancient style of folksong shared by Baltic-Finnic people. Stylistically, regilaul melodies are repetitive as the idea is to create a continuous, unbroken flow to invoke a trance or fulfil a ritual purpose. In Estonia this tradition has all but disappeared from daily life, however efforts were made starting in the 19th century to collect lyrics so they wouldn’t be forgotten. I’ve taken three archival texts and set them to new melodies. My aim is for singers to start simply and then progress into a dreamlike state without any clear moment of transition. This piece is dedicated to the Estonian composer Veljo Tormis (1930-2017).

As a member of Elektra, I’ve had the joy of singing so much remarkable and memorable choral music over the years. Yet nothing has left me quite as spellbound as Estonian regilaul and in particular the works of composer Veljo Tormis. The uniquely mesmerizing and at times uncomfortable feelings stirred up by something both ancient and intuitively familiar has been the catalyst for me to find new music of my own. Or rather, it has started finding me!


This lists any discs, concerts or collections where this piece is included.



Text: Estonian runic song database, catalogue nos. H II 23, 45 (17); E 7197 (11); ERM 76, 23 (1)

  1. Kuldne Mets

Lääme mõtsa kõndimaie
Varikmaida vaatemaie
Oh mu oma mõtsakene
Oh mu oma mõtsahaisu
Meie mõtsan miihaisu
Varikunna vahahaisu
Kase valgeta vahada
Lepä tilguve tinada
Oh mu oma mõtsahaisu
Magust mõtsahaisukesta

2. Suu Laulab, Süda Muretseb

Kes mind kuuleb luulemaie?
Luulemaie, laulemaie!
Ütleb lustilla elama
Rõõmu päivida pidama
Ma laulan läbi mureda
Läbi haale hoogatelle
Suu laulab, süda muretseb
Paled laskvad laine’eida
Kulmud kullatilke’eida
Silmad vetta veeretavad

3. Kuu Laul

Tere, tere noor kuu!
Sinu silmad selgest
Minu silmad selgest
Jahumatt jaksast
Leevakikk kindlast
Pengi paksusest
Raua raskusest
Sina vanast ja
Mina noorest


English Translation:

  1. Golden Forest

Let’s go walk in the woods
See the groves of trees
Oh my own little forest
Oh the smell of my forest
Our forest smells of honey
The bush smells of sap
The birch has white sap
The alder drips with black sap
Oh the smell of my forest
The sweet smell of the forest

2. The Mouth Sings, The Heart Worries

Who will hear me make poetry?
Create poetry, sing poetry
Poems that express skylarking
Poems that express living joyful days
I sing through worries
Transcend bouts of sadness
The mouth sings, the heart worries
My face goes against the waves
My brow has drops of gold
The eyes roll out tears

3. Moon Song

Hello, new moon!
Your eyes have become clear
My eyes have become clear
The power to mill (flour)
All is known with certainty
The thickness of a bench
The weight of iron
You are from something old and
I am from something young