About us

The choir is the biggest male choir in Estonia and has been active in Tallinn University of Technology since 1945.

Core values

{Academic spirit} Our academic spirit is manifested in three aspects — its' membership in the University, traditions and ideals. ## Academic Male Choir of Tallinn University of Technology is closely related to the university. It means that all the men in our ranks are acquiring or already have an academic degree. This ensures our high spirituality. ## Our greatest treasure is our choral traditions. We honor our traditions and develop them actively. ## Our spirituality has always been based on the ideals related to Estonia's independence. It is important for us to participate in events for Estonian statehood. {Choir organization} We are a well organized team. Each singer has a responsibility and an obligation to provide the maximum contribution to the choir activity, the choir is managed by central leadership. High-organization is very important to us. This allows us to use our most restricted resource — time — efficiently and thus achieve the best results. {Orientation to audience} For us the audience's feedback is extremely important. The best recognition for our performances is the warm reception from the audience. Our goal is to perform to the full house, and give the audience a fantastic experience. {Quality} Our goal is to constantly improve our singing quality. We have a principle — in spite of the fact that we have no professional music training, we always give our best. It starts with our attitude towards the preparation — recruiting new singers, high participation in choir practises, devotion to learn the repertoire, and ends with the maximum personal contribution in performances. {Wit} For us, choir is not just about the singing. It is a particular form of self-expression, which goes with a good sense of humor and wit. ## We express our positive attitude and wit in all of our ventures — developing new singers, organizing concerts and other events, and keeping relations with other organizations.

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Traditions are the backbone of the Academic Male Choir of Tallinn University of Technology. Some of them are defined in the choir rules. For example, the so-called choir time, which states that all events will start no later than 15 minutes after the announced time (universities had a habit that the lectures' start was delayed by 15 minutes, traditionally called the academic quarter). Besides the choir time, the so-called stone time and lantern time (for example, when traveling) is used, in which case the academic quarter does not apply. {Symbols} Flag # The flag is the symbol of our choir and has been renewed after the name change of our Alma Mater. It is used on particularly festive moments such as season start, concerts and the song festival grand opening. The flag is also raised on the independence day in Toompea Castle courtyard. ## Motto # The motto of our choir is sung in the beginning of our concerts and festive events. It is composed by Arno Kallikorm and the author of lyrics is Karl Eduard Sööt. It was first sung in 1958 and it carries the essence of the choir credo. ## Laul, see olgu me tunnete kaja,# armus ja truuduses südamelöök,# tõe ja õiguse kuulutaja,# priiuse väravas kaitsev mõõk!# # Composed: Arno Kallikorm, 1958. Lyrics: Karl Eduard Feed the poem "The Singer", 12.04.1940 ## Badge # The symbol representing the unity and cohesion of active members, honorary members and alumni. After seven years of singing the singer acquires honored membership and a badge supplemented with silver leaves. Best of the best, acquire a badge with golden leaves — they are honorary members. ## Ribbon # Choir ribbon in the colors of our flag is acquired by a singer who has sung in the choir for fourteen years. After each following seven years he adds a stripe of one color to his ribbon. The ribbon is received on festive occasions and placed over the right shoulder with the blue stripe on top. ## Hat # One of the first symbols from an era when even the school hats were forbidden. Hat has a white woolen top, black velvet sides and is very similar to the student hat of the university. It is worn at choir parties and other meaningful events. Hat is acquired with the choir membership. ## Form # When the choir performs, it looks dashing. The men are dressed alike in tuxedos or dress coats. {Events} Following events are a part of our yearly activities: cemetary day, seasonal opening event, alumni gathering, choir anniversary, children's christmas tree, anniversary of the republic, beginning of spring, tree planting and annual choir conference. {Social life} To socialize with other choirs and artist groups we organize following events: christmas tree, ski camp, masquerade, TAM-TAM basketball contest, bicycle tour and voice group parties.

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{Valter Soosalu} Valter Soosalu graduated from the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre in the conducting class of lecturer Hirvo Surva. He has worked as a conductor and choir master with various choirs, including chamber choir Revalia, mixed choir HUIK!, and the Estonian Public Broadcasting Mixed Choir. Since 2018, he has been conducting the chamber choir Kolm Lindu, and as of January 2020, he is the chief conductor of the Academic Male Choir of Tallinn University of Technology. ## He won the VI Estonian Youth Choir Conductors' Competition and received the Young Conductor Award from the Estonian Choral Association in 2014. Soosalu has conducted mixed choirs at the 2017 XII Youth Song Festival "Mina jään" and the 2019 XXVII Song Festival "Minu arm." ## In addition to his conducting career, Valter Soosalu is a keyboard player and singer in the ensemble Põhja Konn, which released its debut album "Põhja Konn" in late 2016, followed by the second album "Hetk. Inspereeritud Tüürist" in late 2019. {Heldur Harry Põlda} Heldur Harry Põlda, a graduate of the Tallinn Music High School and the London Guildhall School of Music & Drama in classical singing, performed as a soloist in joint choirs at the 2009 XXV Song Festival "ÜhesHingamine," singing Aare Kruusimäe's composition "Maailma avastamine." In 2011, he appeared with composer Arvo Pärt in Vatican City for Pope Benedict XVI. In the 2019 production of the musical "West Side Story" at the Estonian National Opera, Heldur Harry Põlda played the role of Tony. ## Since 2019, Heldur Harry has been a scholarship recipient at the Estonian National Opera and, since January 2020, the conductor of the Academic Male Choir of Tallinn University of Technology.

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The pre-war Tallinn Technical University Choir, which was made up of approximately 30 men, is often seen as the predecessor of Academic Male Choir of Tallinn University of Technology (TAM). However, since little is known of that choir's activities, TAM's beginning is generally looked at as post-war. In general, its birthday is agreed to be December 15, 1945 — the date of the first public concert. ## The initiator behind the present TAM was Arvo Ratassepp (1926-1986). He also found Arno Kallikorm (1915-1992), who was at that time still a student at the Tallinn Conservatoire and was willing to direct the choir. ## Over the years, TAM has lived through widely varying times and events. The opportunities and goals of the choir have changed accordingly. However, much remains from the beginning: academic traditions, fraternity, organization and spiritual synergism. ## The choir's name has changed several times — Tallinn Academic Male Choir, TPI Academic Male Choir, TPI Male Choir (when the term academic was forbidden), Tallinn Technical University Academic Male Choir and finally Academic Male Choir of Tallinn University of Technology. ## In general, TAM's history can be divided into two periods. A considerable part of its history falls into the period of Estonia's occupation by the Soviet Union. Due to that, TAM developed as a place for enlightened and patriotic young men to be together after its inception. Despite the fact that certain older songs were forbidden, they were still remembered and sung whenever possible. The spirit of the choir developed. This spirit was that of the same patriotic young men — a spirit that the regime was trying to kill. ## At the beginning of the 1950s, the choir saw more social and spiritual development. Essentially TAM was a fraternity. The choir's organization solidified and traditions developed. In 1951 there was a multi-day trip to Leningrad (St. Petersburg), where choir gave five concerts, one of which was in the famed hall of the Academic Chapel. Trips to Riga and concerts in the University of Latvia became a tradition. In 1956 the first Student Song Festival took place in Tartu, where choirs from all three Baltic countries performed. There were concerts in Tartu nearly every year. The desire of TAM men to be more active also gave birth to the tradition of the bi-annual Masquerade Ball, the first of which was held in 1957. ## Two choirs have grown out from TAM. In 1958 the Male Choir of Estonian Academy of Sciences was formed, and many good singers left from TAM. A similar situation occurred in 1987, when TAM's younger son, the EKE Engineer's Male Choir was born. ## In 1965 TAM began its epic restoration of Glehn's Castle, situated in a beautiful park next to the university. Built by Baron Nikolai von Glehn and finished in 1886, it had already fallen into disrepair by the 1920s. The idea of rebuilding the ruins into a student club seemed crazy, except to the choir, which took the project as its own. TAM's documents confirm that the volunteers put in nearly 5000 man hours in the first year, removing 420 m3 debris from the site. The TPI male and female choirs worked enthusiastically at the castle. The cleaning and demolition took several years. The castle was formally opened on March 24, 1977, as the TPI Performer's House, otherwise known as the students' castle. Every year in October, the choir holds its past members meeting in Glehn's Castle. ## At seventies, the choir was very successful in the festivals, winning the first place at the international choral festival Tallinn 75 and later laureate title at the Soviet Union Performance Festival. In 1978 the choir competed at the 17th Seghizzi Choir Competition in Gorizia, Italy. ## The peak achievement in Jüri Rent's time as chief conductor was certainly winning the Schubert Male Choir Competition in Austria in 1988. TAM shared the honour with the renowned male choir Chorus Viennensis. ## The early 1990s saw improvement of the singers' musical abilities, since many of the young members had a previous musical experience. Jüri Rent knew how to convince the highest quality Estonian orchestras, professional musicians and vocal soloists to perform with TAM. This was a great boost to the spirit of the choir. For many years, Jüri commissioned new works for the choir from the Estonian composers. In 1989, the choir began its annual Christmas Concerts, which had been forbidden under the Soviet regime. TAM's Christmas Concerts in Kaarli Church were one of the largest in Estonia. The choir's first CD was released at Christmas 1994, with U. Sisask's Christmas music. The choir also performed with the Estonian Border Guard Orchestra, with whom they recorded many traditional folk and student songs. ## At the 1996 Nordic University Choir Festival (NSSS) in Copenhagen, it was decided that the 1999 festival would be held in Tallinn. Even though it was not directly TAM's duty to organize the event, they took the bulk of the responsibility. This was especially so because the chairman of the Association of Estonian Student Choirs (AESC), which was responsible for organizing the event, was TAM's honourable member Enn Vilgo. At the final concert in Kalev Sports Hall, the 1400-member combined choir performed Beethoven's 9th symphony under the conducting of Eri Klas. ## In 1998 TAM undertook a mammoth month-long tour to Australia and New Zealand. In 2000 TAM travelled with its sister TTU Academic Female Choir to the US and Canada for the ESTO festival. In 2002 the choir journeyed to Busan, South Korea, for the International Choir Olympics, where TAM won a silver diploma in the men's choir category. Africa was one of the few places where TAM had never been until 2006. After choir's tour to South Africa, remaining South America was conquered in 2012. ## In 2001 TAM added a spring concert to its program tradition. These concerts have developed into large stage shows, where in addition to singing, the men are able to show off their acting and performing abilities. TAM also adds other exciting elements into their spring concerts, especially non-traditional arrangements and guest soloists. "Golden Eye" from the James Bond films and Queen's "We Will Rock You" are two recent examples that have been accepted very well with audiences. ## In 2003 the Technical University Academic Male Choir Foundation was established as a part of the Estonian National Culture Foundation. The Foundation pays a stipend to TAM members who have helped TAM to develop its core values — academic traditions, singing quality, organization, audience focus and good humour. ## TAM is a vibrant organization and always looks to the future. This is shown by TAM's development principles for 2003-2013. An organization that has clear goals is easy to lead. TAM has 5 core values which help to keep its goals clear. Two are directly related to concerts: audience focus and singing quality. Two are linked to fraternal spirit: academic traditions and organization. The fifth is humour and witty spirit, which fosters all of TAM's activities. ## TAM has provided years of challenge, entertainment and pleasure for the singers, their families and the public at large. The men of TAM would like to thank all who have been with them all through those years and those who will be there in the years to come.

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Name Occupation Phone E-mail
Valter Soosalu Chief conductor - -
Heldur Harry Põlda Conductor - -
Erik Prits President - -
Priit Siinmaa Choir major - -
Gert Mänd Public affairs +372 50 79 079 meeskoor@ttu.ee
Raul Mark Treasurer - meeskoor.finants@ttu.ee
Peeter Aruvald Storekeeper - -
Ilja Maljutenko Chronicle - -
Roland Luhaväli Chronicle II (marketing) - -
Sten Nurmsalu Organizer - -
Kaspar Klettenberg Librarian - -
Magnus Teekivi I tenor major - -
Otto Eespere II tenor major - -
Martin Klaats Baritone major - -
Randar Jõesaar Bass major - -


In 2003, the subfond for Academic Male Choir of Tallinn University of Technology was created under the Estonian National Culture Foundation to support the activities of the Academic Male Choir of Tallinn University of Technology. ## More information about the fund is available at www.tam.ee/fond.

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