A voice that seems to speak to us from the heart of the Estonian forest and her music rooted in ancient Estonian traditions resonate deep within us to touch our spirits, our souls, even for those of us who speak nary a word of Estonian.
Mari Kalkun is a musician, singer and a composer relying on her Southern Estonian roots. The songs are largely her own compositions, inspired by nature, Estonian poetry and folk music. Many of the lyrics are written by local poets carrying the feeling of rural life, the forests, the landscape. The flowing sound of Estonian language and its dialects create a meditative atmosphere in her music intertwined with the traditional singing – regilaul – and folklore. For making music and accompanying herself she uses kannel, piano, accordion, guitar but sometimes also pipes, whistles and various experimental instruments. She performed WOMEX showcase, Celtic Connections and many festivals around the world.
Rooted in ancient Estonian and Võru traditions, and played on a variety of instruments including kannel and accordion, her music—for those of us with ears and hearts open—resonates deep within us to touch our spirits, our souls, even when the language is strange to us. Songs and musical arrangements that are sparse and stripped down allow emotion to surface, and the song breath and reveal itself as something organic and real. Hers is an intimate music—born of Baltic winter forests and icy landscapes—and yet there is renewal, hope and celebration to be heard. Mari Kalkun’s music has a timeless quality and unhurried sense of time and space.
As of 2020, Mari Kalkun has released five full-length albums and an EP, and has worked as a soloist in projects with acclaimed orchestras and choirs. She has toured through Europe and Japan.
During the unusual spring of 2020 Mari released a very conceptual EP, Õunaaia Album (Apple Orchard Album). The self-released album was recorded at her home studio at the time of isolation in April/May 2020 and presented live in her apple orchard during its full blossom. The lyrics in Estonian and Võro language are written by contemporary authors and Kalkun herself. Most of the song topics are in one way or another investigating the relationship between humans and nature. The album was released in a limited handmade edition and the sleeve is completed by the artist herself using the flowers of her orchard as a reminder of the spring when we had TIME.