Tens of thousands of Estonians joined in singing folk songs Sunday on the 150th anniversary of a music festival that inspired resistance to Soviet control and later received recognition from the U.N. cultural agency.
The Estonian Song and Dance Celebration attracted 35,000 singers, more than 1,000 choirs and 700 dance groups to the capital of Tallinn. The event, held every five years, started as a song-only celebration in 1869.
An estimated 90,000 people attended the main concert that closed the festival, which had most of the choirs joining voices for songs with special meaning for Estonians and their national identity. The festival theme this year was “My Fatherland is My Love.”
During Estonia’s nearly 50 years of Soviet occupation, some traditional anthems and songs were banned or had their lyrics changed so singing them was an act of defiance.
In the late 1980s, people intentionally sang the original versions of key songs at protests and independence followed their…
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