5 The Kalamaja Cemetary Park (Kalamaja kalmistupark) / Tuulikki Bartosik
The Kalamaja cemetery was once one of Tallinn's oldest existing cemeteries and is now a public park in a vibrant suburban area of Kalamaja. It had thousands of graves of ethnic Estonian and Swedish residents of Tallinn, existing as a graveyard from the 15th century until 1964 when the Soviet occupation destroyed it completely. Now, being part of Kadrioru Park, it has been renovated and improved with fountains, children's playgrounds and nice walking paths.
Kopli area is situated on the Kopli Peninsula and is a subdistrict of Põhja-Tallinn. My earliest memories of Kopli go back to 1976, the year I was born and moved to Neeme street with my parents. The apartment in a big wooden house was our first home together although I lived also with my grandparents in Võrumaa, South-Estonia. During that time the whole peninsula was heavily used by the Soviet Army and it was far from the colourful cultural district we can enjoy 40 years later.
When I visit Kopli, I particularly like the roomy feeling while walking down the streets which often offer a glimpse of the Baltic Sea. It is hard to believe that as late as 1910 this area was covered with woods and meadows. Hundreds of years ago the peninsula was covered by a thick oak forest which to a great extent was destroyed during the siege of Tallinn 1570-71 during the Livonian War. Still, several big oak trees have preserved up to the present day. Unfortunately, history had other plans for the peninsula, and 1913-14 four shipyards were built and the former forest area was soon turned into a vast construction site. With the growing amount of workers a whole new infrastructure was built - houses for families, schools, shops, etc... A new district of Tallinn was born and it still has some of the old time characteristics left today.
There are plenty of interesting abandoned places and secret corners where I could have played my piece but those were not the places which caught my eyes and ears this time. At the end of the Kalamaja district, close to the Noblessner shipyard, there is a park which now is called Kalamaja Cemetery park. Kalamaja Cemetery, once the oldest cemeteries in Tallinn, is now a big green park with only some occasional signs left from its original purpose. There is at least 400 years of mankind's history buried in the park. It is said that at some point during Soviet time seven layers of graves were discovered there. So many silent voices, so many silenced stories and so much history lies in the ground where big trees are keeping the watch over their souls!
As my roots are in Võrumaa in South-Estonia where most of the area is still covered with thick forests, my heart beats extra for that kind of environment with its special acoustics.
In our culture the trees are viewed as admired symbolic individuals, their lifespan can far exceed that of humans. Amongst different buildings and cityscapes, city trees improve several architectural and engineering functions, they provide a green infrastructure for communities. I think that trees tie together the past and the present, all the forgotten stories and history is preserved in them. Trees can reduce noise by sound reflection but they can also reflect sound and create incredible acoustical effects.
My piece "Last one standing" is dedicated to the last remaining trees on Kopli Peninsula and to all the souls in Kalamaja and Kopli Cemetery parks. The trees tell the story of the people lying under their roots. I think that as long as there is one last tree standing, there is still hope for the mankind to survive. Usually people just walk, run, walk their dogs, children play and so on in the park, somebody maybe slows down and thinks, listens, reflects their thoughts. But it is a sad fact that mostly we just rush trough our lives in nowadays society.
I would like people to stop and listen to my piece, feel the history merging into the modern city life and vice versa through my sounds. Which kind of emotions do those sounds awaken? Do people feel something or do they just rush on? Do they hear the wind in the trees and children playing in the background, cars passing and people talking to my music or do they just hear their own thoughts in their heads?
I am used to record my music in the thick pine forest in Võrumaa, where my accordion sounds like a big forest organ. "Last man standing" is recorded in Saarlase forest in Rõuge. With this recording and piece of music I take the forest vibrations back to the place where they used to belong.