Travels in Estonia and the Soviet Union:
June 1990

At the beginning of my freshman year at UC Davis, in my first quarter of choir, we found out about a trip the following June to sing Haydn's "Creation" in Estonia, Leningrad, Moscow and Helsinki with the Estonia Chamber Orchestra and Singers. Those of us who decided to go would join members of the UC Berkeley Glee Club and the CSU Chico Chorus. Of course, this trip cost about $4000, and my parents had just bought me a baritone saxophone (see my Music page), so there went my entire savings that I'd been accumulating since I was five years old...but it was the trip of a lifetime, especially since by the summer of 1991, there was no Soviet Union left to see...

The night before we flew out, we were part of the assorted choirs spring concert for UC Davis, where we sang an excerpt from the "Creation". I was a wee freshman at the end of my first year in choir, but the conductor singled me out for the soprano soloist of the trio section for our rehearsals and our concert...I was VERY flattered...

"Die Himmel Erzahlen Die Ehre Gottes" (184K)
Britta Peterson, soprano
Jesse Means, tenor
Ken Dunmead, bass

Estonia 1990 Luggage Tag

It was rough taking finals early or taking incompletes in classes at the end of my first year at UC Davis, but I knew this was going to be the trip of a lifetime, so I'd better enjoy myself and deal with school later!

Ferry to Estonia

We flew from Sacramento to Los Angeles, then took an SAS flight all the way to Copenhagen, then another hop to Helsinki. We stayed overnight in Helsinki, then took the ferry across to Estonia...

Bottle Choir

Our meals were all together at the hotel in Estonia, served with either Pepsi or mineral water (yuck either way for me)...Since there were always so many bottles on the table, we took to tuning them with the amounts of liquid and blowing on them in sequence. We didn't get as ambitious as a whole scale, but we had enough to play Reveillie as I was conducting us all and playing my own bottle. We were the center of attention for that moment, as you can imagine!

Rehearsal in Tallinn

One of our many joint rehearsals, but this one was quite a climb up many, many steps. This is where the Estonian choir usually rehearsed. We were singing Haydn's Creation, but we did also get to perform a couple concerts in separate groups with our own material...

Soviet cadets

On one of our chances to sightsee in Tallinn (the capital of Estonia), we came across these Soviet cadets on leave who let us take our picture with them. When we had gone around the other side of this hill, the cadets had caught up with us, and they asked us (through Emily who had taken 10 weeks of Russian total) to send them a picture, too...

Old Tallinn

Old Tallinn is up on the hill, and the new city has spread out around it. There were some old city walls and Russian Orthodox churches with beautiful painted onion domes, too...

Lenin statue

One of the ever-present statues of Lenin...this one is in Tallinn. Estonia had just declared their independence from the USSR before we came, so we hoped nothing too serious would happen when we were there. The Estonians were flying the Estonian flag (vs. the USSR province flag as they were still supposed to) everywhere they could, and some Estonians we met wanted to trade us pins or patches of their flag for ours. I felt badly that I didn't have anything with the United States flag on it...

Glinka Kapella Poster

We took the train overnight from Tallinn to Leningrad (this was one year before they renamed it St. Petersburg again). My roommate and I had to share a cabin, since they slept four, and that's how I met Stephanie and Tracia...This is our poster for our concerts in the Glinka Kapella Concert Hall, and I was actually lucky enough to get an actual poster!

Inside Glinka Kapella

This is a view of us performing inside the Glinka Kapella in Leningrad (nearby the Hermitage). We could never figure out why the heck Chico had those fuschia dresses, though!

We took another train to Moscow, did some sightseeing, of course (including standing in line at the still-new-and-exciting McDonald's!), and performed at the world-famous Tchaikovsky Hall. This was our poster for that performance...Can you read Cyrillc by any chance?

Inside Tchaikovsky Hall

This is not our performance, but it is our rehearsal inside Tchaikovsky Hall. Note the banners leftover from the international piano competition the weekend before...

St Basils Cathedral

The UC Davis group posing in front of the famous Saint Basil's Cathedral in Red Square in Moscow...after our concert at about 10:30 at night! (If you can't quite tell there are people standing there, click on the picture for a closer view of us) Very long days of sunshine since they're so close to the Arctic Circle there...

Tracia, Britta and Al McNeil

Tracia, our conductor Al McNeil and me at the airport in Helsinki...Don't even ask how we got back from Moscow to Helsinki...Let's just say it was utter HELL and leave it at that for now...But we did make it just barely in time for our final performance in Helsinki. There was a party afterwards, of course, and many people had a difficult time getting up in time to catch the bus back to the Helsinki Airport. Of course, once we were there, we had to wait forever for the flight, so we occupied ourselves with taking pictures like this one and weighing ourselves on the baggage scales...I don't think I've ever been so tired as when I finally got back to Sacramento the next day!

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