Film, performance benefits Nevada Union Choir Estonia trip  |

Film, performance benefits Nevada Union Choir Estonia trip 

Allison Blackham
Submitted to Prospector
Submitted photo by James Tusty

Two decades ago, the tiny nation of Estonia rebelled against the mighty Soviet Union and won. Their weapons? Patience, persistence and music.

Nevada Union High School’s internationally renowned choir will travel to Estonia in the spring of 2013.

In the early planning stages of the trip, some of the choir students heard about Estonia’s amazing revolution against the Soviets using peaceful protest and music. New York-based filmmakers James and Maureen Tusty documented the story in their film “The Singing Revolution,” and the Nevada Union Choir was determined to bring the story, the movie and the filmmakers to Grass Valley to generate interest in the trip and to raise funds to help students travel.

The film explores the revolution of Estonia and the story of how it declared its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, after years of demonstrations and massive singing protests.

The choir’s connection with Estonia dates back to the days just before the revolution.

Former NU Choir director Don Baggett shared stories in class last week about a Nevada Union Choir trip to Estonia in the 1980s.

“After touring and singing in Talinn, Estonia, NU choir students were lined up, getting ready to board a train to move on to our next destination. As the train doors opened, soldiers marched out. Russian soldiers were coming in to quell the beginnings of the Estonian rebellion. It was extremely intimidating and scary.”

With only a million citizens, Estonia had no army or weaponry to resist their Soviet occupiers. For five decades, rebels against the Soviet government disappeared or were deported to Russian prisons. Estonian culture was repressed, and Estonian songs were banned.

This outlawing of their music was a particular burden to the Estonian people. Choral music was a huge part of their national and cultural identity and their history. Appropriately, song became the key to their freedom.

Nevada Union High School Choir Boosters will present a benefit showing of “The Singing Revolution” Saturday at the Don Baggett Theater at Nevada Union High School. Doors open at 3 p.m., and the movie begins at 4 p.m. Filmmaker Jim Tusty will be there for a question-and-answer session after the film, and the Nevada Union High School Choir will perform. General admission tickets are $15 and available at, at BriarPatch Co-op and will be sold at the door. A special $75 VIP ticket offers premium seating, two free drinks and a reception with Jim Tusty at the Nevada City Winery after the film.

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