“The Cap and Bells” is a unique concert production that weaves together music, poetry and film. However, it has been a longer journey…

2015 Avarus Ensemble, together with Kadri Voorand Trio and Estonian Voices, performed in Nargen Festival that takes place on a slightly mystical island very close to Tallinn – Naissaar. For this performance, Tõnu Kaljuste – artistic director of the festival and an icon in Estonian music scene – commissioned Mingo Rajandi a new piece. Yeats’ book of poems being always opened on Mingo’s work desk, The Cap and Bells was a quick choice as she had been planning to compose something for this particularly gentle, yet deeply moving text.

As Avarus Ensemble rehearsed and performed the piece, it became clear that its narrative character – both in the text and the music – would be exceptionally well complemented by a visual counterpart. During this period Mingo was already working with a choreographer and dance Marie Pullerits on their first co-creation – “Hingelinnud”, a 30 minute dance production with original music performed live by Avarus Ensemble. It was only logical that the dance element evolved into the concept early on. A versatile artist Pille Kose has been with Avarus since the very beginning making all the artworks from our logo to all the posters and beyond. We wouldn’t have any other to work on this.

The composition “The Cap and Bells” is approximately 10 minutes long, so an ordinary music video conception (whatever that means) had to be discarded – the longer form needed to be treated accordingly. We realised we need a director and after some seeking (thanks to Madis Tüür, now co-producing the film) found Carlos E Lesmes – a Columbian settled in Estonia. Carlos developed quickly a contrasting concept bringing in a darker visual aesthetics and a way to tell the story. He also brought in the cinematographer Meelis Veeremets.

In the meanwhile, news had spread to the Estonian Irish Embassy that an Estonian composer had written something based on Yeats’ texts. As 2015 was the poets anniversary – 150 years since his birth – there were a couple of events celebrating his legacy in music and readings. Mingo got an invitation to one of these. An idea was born that Avarus could dedicate an entire project to Yeats, commissioning new works based on his texts built around the already existing “The Cap and Bells”. And that we should involve Irish musicians and composers.

Thanks to Evonne Ferguson and the Contemporary Music Center Ireland who suggested us lists of composers, musicians and already existing works, we ended up finding Seán Mac Erlaine, a Dublin-based woodwind instrumentalist, composer and music producer, recognised as one of Ireland’s most forward-thinking creative musicians. After some exchange of ideas and sounds, Seán not only agreed to get on board, but suggested upon our request an Irish actor Shane O’Reilly to be involved to recite poems and other bits of texts.

As the summer of 2016 wore on, the two parallel projects – the concert and the film – merged into one. The film will be premiered as an integral piece of the concert production puzzle and Avarus Ensemble will perform the composition live to go with the film.

Even though everything is yet to begin, it has been a special journey already so far. Bare with us..