Estonian Music Week would like to introduce the incredible team behind EMW. It all began with a spark on inspiration that grew into a large and exciting project. EMW has only been possible with the help of music industry professionals in both Estonia and Canada, as well as the support from stellar volunteers. Read more about the EMW team members below.
artistic director (Estonia)
Virgo Sillamaa is the Director at Music Estonia, the Estonian music export office and industry development centre associated with all aspects of the Estonian music scene - artists, companies, and various organisations - towards making Estonian music heard internationally. He is a board member at EMEE (European Music Exporters Exchange) network and IAMIC (International Association of the Music Information Centres).
Virgo is also the owner and co-founder of Avarus, a boutique creative music agency based in Tallinn, Estonia. Avarus works with a selection of Estonia's finest musicians and composers working in jazz and contemporary idioms with ethnic/world music elements. Avarus organizes concerts and tours, initiates artistic collaborations, and releases music under Avarus Records. A core activity is the management of Avarus Ensemble– an electro-acoustic chamber group featuring all Avarus artists.
Virgo has had a moderately long career playing guitar primarily focused on improvised music. With a BA in jazz guitar and an MA in music pedagogy from the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre, he has also been active in music education - the founding member and first chairman of the Estonian Rhythmic Music Education Society, author of a music theory handbook, and a teacher in several Estonian music schools. Currently a member of the Baltic Media, Film, Arts and Communication Institute (Tallinn University) council.
Artistic Director (canada)
Born to Estonian parents in Toronto, Tom possesses hands-on experience in the music industry encompassing virtually every aspect of the business. Over his career, Tom has signed many artists to all the major labels in New York and Los Angeles. (Universal, Sony and Warners).
He has also released more than one hundred albums of local and foreign artists via his own record company Hypnotic Records distributed by Universal Music. Signed early in his career as an artist to Warner Bros and as a writer to RCA Records, Tom has since then been very active in artist management including collaborating with Gene Simmons (KISS) for a number of years. Tom has also produced 75 albums as a Record Producer including being awarded 10 Gold and Platinum albums.
Most recently Tom taught Music Industry Contracts at Trebas Institute in Toronto. Currently he is a booking agent at JMA Talent and manages 80’s Multi Platinum female artist Lee Aaron.
Tom is thrilled and honoured to be part of the EMW team as it is a dream job to work closely with so many talented Estonian artists hoping to increase their audiences on this side of the ocean. Tom looks forward to no sleep between May 24-29th!
Read more about Toomas in his exclusive interview with Peter Goral here
Piret Noorhani was born in Tartu, Estonia. She studied Estonian language and literature at Tartu University and worked at the Estonian Literary Museum and Estonian National Museum before coming to Canada to start working for the Museum of Estonian Abroad (VEMU) in 2009. As a Chief Archivist she is also responsible for the VEMU Culture Program. Under her direction 50-70 different events take place every year, including concerts and theatre performances, many of which travel to Canada from Estonia.
Piret is the VEMU contact person at the Bloor St. Culture Corridor. She is founding member and the first president of the Baltic Audiovisual Archival Council and a founding member and the president of the Baltic Heritage Network. A member of the International Council of Museums.
Piret is a great music lover and received her musical education at a children's music school learning accordion. She has been a member of a number of choirs and is currently singing in the Toronto Estonian Mixed Choir Ööbik. Piret likes Toronto because it holds a lively and diverse music scene. One of her favourite places in Toronto is Koerner Hall, conveniently situated between her office and her home.
Read more about Piret in her exclusive interview with Peter Goral here
Linda Litwack has worked over four decades as a publicist, mostly at CBC, where she was the Radio Music publicist for 20 years, and then a publicist with Television Arts and Entertainment. In 1997, she moved into the freelance market through her company, Linda Litwack Publicity, and has continued to promote music (mostly classical), along with television programs and a variety of other arts. She began her career as a summer reporter with the Winnipeg Tribune, and became a publicist with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet before moving to Toronto. Besides having studied piano and singing in choirs, she has written musical arrangements that have been performed by choirs and others; served as an artistic advisor, writer and editor for a CD by soprano Denise Williams; and with her partner Charlie Sise published two novels through their company Groundhog Press. She is also a board member of the International Resource Centre for Performing Artists.
Having explored and celebrated the music of her own cultural background, Linda appreciates the pride that Estonians feel about theirs. She shares their enthusiasm for the quality and variety of artists and genres represented in Estonian Music Week. It has been an inspiration to work with Piret and her dedicated and very capable organizing team.
Toronto born and raised, Marcus has been a lifelong participant in the Canadian-Estonian community through schools, camps, scouting, and clubs. Music being a pillar of Estonian culture, it's unsurprising this should be foundational in both Marcus' personal pursuits and career path. He is a hobbyist musician, performing and recording with several bands since the 1990s, ranging from Estonian contemporary to post-punk, indie pop, and more. Following his recording arts education at Harris Institute, he has for the last 25 years made his professional life in several arenas of the industry, beginning in an artist management office before traveling North America's highways as a tour manager and thereafter spending the lion's share of the last two decades at Universal Music Canada, where he was until recently head of their communications team, overseeing publicity for countless domestic and international artists, from developing acts to superstar household names. As a freelance writer, he has explored a wide variety of topics, including music, for Canadian newspapers, magazines, and online. Marcus has for years shared his knowledge and experience through lecturing on music publicity at various Ontario universities and colleges.
Reet Lindau-Voksepp was born in Toronto where she studied at the University of Toronto and OCADU. Reet is a retired Art and Music educator but continues to be active in the arts as a musician, conductor, artist and event organizer. As a singer, Reet has recorded and performed in North America as well as Europe, with Lindau Õed and Lindau Ansambel, whose career highlight was a successful 1994 concert tour in Estonia . She is a past member of Toronto Estonian choirs Lootus and Estonia, and a current member/assistant conductor of Ööbik choir. Under Reet’s direction, the Toronto Estonian School Choir has performed at Esto 2000 in Toronto, at the West Coast Estonian Days in Harrison Hot Springs, B.C. and at 6 Estonian Song Festivals in Tallinn, Estonia from 2004 to 2017. As an artist, whose works can be found in many private collections, Reet’s interests lie primarily in photography, printmaking, and mixed-media painting. She has volunteered on many boards: Estonian Arts Centre, Estonian House Art Committee, VEMU Culture Program, Estonian Singers Federation in North America as president, St. Peters Evangelical Lutheran Church.
Reet is very excited about Estonian Music Week and that after several years of meetings and planning, it is becoming a reality!
Read more about Reet in her exclusive interview with Piret Noorhani here
Hendrik Riik was born to Estonian parents in Toronto, Canada. He has lived and worked in Toronto, New York and Los Angeles in the performing arts as a musician, composer, producer, theatrical manager, and theatrical producer. He has been involved in many film and television productions, and toured extensively throughout North America, as a musician and theatrical producer. Throughout his musical career he has performed and recorded with Juno and Grammy nominees and winners. His theatrical productions have played in major theatres across Canada, the United States, The Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal and The Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Toomas Kütti was born in Toronto and has been active in the Estonian-Canadian community since age three. He attended Estonian Sunday school, supplementary schools and Jõekääru summer camp. He is also a Lembitu Scout, a Kungla folk dancer and a Vironia fraternity member. Toomas knows the Estonian-Canadian community will thrive and propser as community groups work together to deliver quality events and creative programming. To that end, he loves the Estonian proverb: “Raha paneb rattad käima!”. Directly translated: “Money makes wheels go ‘round” Applied to the community, it suggests that: “Fundraising helps ensure great events become awesome ones!”
Toomas honed his community fundraising skills while still a cub-scout, selling hundreds of “õnnetaalrid” each year. These “lucky-bucks” helped fund amazing Estonian-Canadian scouting programmes and indirectly supported participation of Estonian-Canadian scouts, including Toomas, at the 1975 World Scout Jamboree in Lillehammer, Norway. More recently, Toomas served as a director at the Estonian Foundation of Canada, a registered Canadian charity that raises funds to support Estonian cultural and heritage programmes throughout Canada. He was also a lead-organizer of the JK Jazz music and art festivals which raised significant funds for Camp Jõekääru and in the past he has also raised funds for Camp Kotkajärve, other community groups and led several United Way campaign teams.
He is thrilled to be part of the Estonian Music Week team, helping to make it a unique and spectacular festival.
Peter G. Goral
As an executive leader in Business Transformation, Peter provides counsel and guidance to leading national brands with respect to building and growing their footprint in the market through Social Media Strategies.
With core competencies in human resources, business development, marketing, operations and the development of “go to market” strategies, he’s spent years consulting in these areas for organizations in several industries including Retail, Manufacturing, Energy & Utilities, Technology and Professional Services.
Peter recently created an entity within the confines of his business called “You Are Your Brand” and travels across the country facilitating workshops and speaking engagements designed to encourage people to step up and be counted in their social marketing efforts.
On the personal side he’s an accomplished Artist, currently showing his works across North America and overseen by his wife Jude, who operates that side of the business to promote his work into private and corporate collections globally.
Marika Mayfield was born in Georgia, USA. She completed high school in Tartu, Estonia and continued her education at the University of Toronto in Canada. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in 2015, double majoring in Biological and Cultural Anthropology.
Throughout her studies at U of T, Marika worked in the archive at the Estonian Studies Centre/VEMU, which later led to a full time position as Archives Assistant to the Chief Archivist Piret Noorhani in the fall of 2015. She has since assisted in a number of events, including concerts, lectures, workshops, and theatre performances, all part of the VEMU Culture Program. In addition to her work at ESC/VEMU, Marika is also a freelance translator for texts from Estonian to English and vice versa.
In her free time, she likes to explore the music, wellness, and fitness scenes of Toronto. Marika has primarily been to concerts by North American artists, but is looking forward to Estonian Music Week and all the exciting music that Estonian artists will bring to Canada.
Program Book Editor
Anne Remmel was born in Toronto and studied at the University of Toronto and OCAD. She holds B.Sc. M.Ed. and PhD. from University of Toronto. Her professional career in both public and private sector organizations, has spanned organizational development and corporate education functions. She has taught at University of Toronto and in leadership development programs in Canada, U.S. and South America.
She has been an active member of the Estonian community in Toronto since childhood. Currently she belongs to Ööbik and has sung in the last two Estonian Song Festivals.
Music and art have always been special passions. Anne had had an extensive history of one-woman art shows as well as participating in Estonian group shows in Toronto. Her works are owned in public and private collections. Anne was president of the Estonian House Art Committee for ten years organizing exhibitions. Most recently she guided Estonian visitors at the Art Gallery of Ontario. As a Board director at Neilson Park Creative Centre she chairs the Program Committee.
Anne views the Estonian Music Week as a unique opportunity for a creative exchange between musicians from Estonia with their counterparts in Canada.
Kati Kiilaspea is from Toronto, Ontario. She has been closely tied to and an active participant in the local Estonian community for a large part of her life. Kati is currently in her fourth year of cultural studies, with a music minor, at Ryerson University. She is planning on taking a fifth year to focus more on music and film studies, and is working towards a masters in media production, specifically sound design. Kati has always had an immense love for culture, art, and especially music. She is interested in the idea of soundscapes and how music and culture work hand in hand to create a fulfilling experience.
Kati travels to Estonia for a month each summer to visit relatives, to immerse herself in the wonderful culture of the country, and to keep in touch with the latest trends in music and art. She is a part of the Estonian Music Week team because she wants to be able to keep Estonian culture alive in the local community and to introduce and promote Estonian music and talent to Estonian and Canadian youth and young adults. Kati is excited to be able to see some of her favourite Estonian musicians and experience Canadian talent during Estonian Music Week.
Jaan Kittask is a Canadian-Estonian who spent his precocious youth playing in several indie bands, watching too many sci-fi movies and practicing D.I.Y. photography and design as a means of avoiding the real world. This eventually led him to getting his BFA from Ryerson University's School of Image Arts.
Jaan has worked in design studios big and small and with clients short and tall. From large sporting companies to little skin care boutiques; obscure record labels to established financial institutions, his client list has some range, to say the least.
Jaan is dedicated to helping the growth of businesses and musicians, no matter what size the project. His multidisciplinary approach to most things in life has led him to work alongside various creative forces in a lot of different industries.
See some of his work here: jaankittask.com