Archive for November, 2013


A memorial service for Heino Luts was held at 2:00 pm on Friday, November 29, 2013, at Trinity Lutheran Church, 401 5th Street North, St Petersburg, Florida. The Rev. Dr. Priit Rebane officiated. A coffee hour followed the service, and friends exchanged wonderful memories with family members Liisa and Heino, Jr.

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When Anu Tali conducts, you don’t just hear the music; you see it. Each wave of her arms, shrugs of her shoulders, and staccato movements of her baton communicate how she wants you to listen to the story the orchestra tells.

Members of the Estonian Society of Central Florida, joining a full house, were treated to an exhilarating musical experience at the Sunday, November 10, 2013 performance of the Sarasota Orchestra conducted by new musical director and conductor Anu Tali. In fact, all three performances launching the orchestra’s 2013-14 Masterworks series in the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall were sold out.

Front row: Lisa A. Mets, Monika Orumaa Craig, Väino Aare, Anu Tali, Leena Aare, Kersti Linask. Back row: Erkki Taada, Ingrid Shipotofsky, Tiit Treude. Sarasota, November 10, 2013.

KFES members congratulate Sarasota Orchestra Music Director and Conductor Anu Tali at the start of 2013-14 Masterworks season. Front row: Lisa A. Mets, Monika Orumaa Craig, Väino Aare, Anu Tali, Leena Aare, Kersti Linask. Back row: Erkki Taada, Ingrid Shipotofsky, Tiit Treude. Sarasota, November 10, 2013.

This year the Sarasota Orchestra, known first as the Florida West Coast Symphony, celebrates its 65th year. Ms. Tali is only the fifth conductor to lead this exquisite ensemble of talented musicians. The works selected for her debut reflected Ms. Tali’s Estonian heritage and education as a student at the Tallinn Music High School, Tallinn Conservatory, Estonian Academy of Music, Stockholm Music Gymnasium, and the St. Petersburg State Conservatory.

Ms. Tali opened the concert with Heino Eller’s Koit (Dawn), composed between 1915 and 1920, the period of Estonia’s own great national awakening. The audience quickly settled down to enjoy this melodic tribute to nature. Well paired with the opening, Rachmaninoff’s romantic Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43 followed. Piano soloist Lukáš Vondráček gave a stellar performance supported by an orchestra that matched the lightning speed of his finger work. After intermission, the official program concluded with Dvořák’s Symphony No 7. According to Sarasota Orchestra program notes, Dvořák said his new symphony “must be capable of stirring the world.” It certainly stirred the audience to communicate their appreciation with a standing ovation at its conclusion. Reciprocating with its own show of appreciation, the Sarasota Orchestra offered a spirited Brahms’ Hungarian Dance No. 6 as its encore.

After appearances in 2011 and 2012, Ms. Tali’s arrival this season was highly anticipated and great expectations are in order. The audience’s enthusiastic and extended applause—from her first appearance on stage to her exit after the encore—signaled their great affection for their orchestra and their new music director and encouragement for great things to come from this union. The Estonian Society of Central Florida (Kesk Florida Eesti Selts) is especially excited to welcome this new member to our community.

Ms. Tali guest conducts the Eesti Riiklik Sümfooniaorkester in Ft. Lauderdale (FL) on Saturday, November 16, 2013. Her next program with the Sarasota Orchestra, Homage, is scheduled February 20-23, 2014; tickets are available through sarasotaorchestra.org.

–Lisa A. Mets

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Another Successful Sügisfest in West Palm Beach

The Estonian National Association of South Florida (Lõuna Florida Eesti Selts) held another successful Sügisfest on Saturday, November 9, 2013, in the Osceola Pavilion in Palm Beach County’s beautiful Okeeheelee Park. More than 80 revelers–including members from the Estonian Society of Central Florida (Kesk Florida Eesti Selts)–enjoyed good food, great company, and lively entertainment. Kaie Põhi Latterner of the Estonian Society of Central Florida (Kesk Florida Eesti Selts) led activities for children and sing-a-longs for adults. Though it was breezy and overcast with occasional sprinkles, spirits were bright!

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The Estonian Society of Central Florida (Kesk Florida Eesti Selts) kicked off its 2013-2014 year of activities with its annual business meeting at 2:00 pm, on Sunday, November 3, 2013, at The Hangar Restaurant and Flight Lounge, 540 1st St SE, St. Petersburg, Florida 33701; telephone: (727) 823-7767. The restaurant, with a varied affordable menu, is conveniently located at The Albert Whitted Airport, and parking is free and accessible.

KFES President Tõnu Toomepuu welcomed members. The members confirmed the agenda and elected Jaan Kuuskvere by acclamation to preside over the members’ meeting. KFES Secretary Maare Kuuskvere agreed to serve as the meeting’s secretary. The meeting continued with a tribute to the life of KFES member Heino Luts, who passed away on Sunday, October 27, 2013; Mr. Jüri Toomepuu remembered his dear friend with special remarks that are posted on this web site.

The meeting then continued with its normal order of business. Members approved the minutes of its November 4, 2012 annual meeting. KFES President Toomepuu reviewed KFES’s activities for 2012-13; he noted especially Kaie Põhi Latterner’s moving remarks and musical contributions to the KFES celebration of the 95th Anniversary of Estonian Independence, which made it KFES’s best ever. Members received the Treasurer’s report for 2012-13, and members of the Audit Committee confirmed they had audited and approved the financial statements. On motion made and seconded, the members accepted the audited financial statements for 2012-13.

Planned activities and the budget for 2013-14 were presented. In addition to KFES’s monthly luncheon meetings, highlights of the upcoming 2013-14 year include a visit by Jõuluvana on December 8, 2013; the celebration of the 96th Anniversary of Estonian Independence on February 22, 2014, with participation by The Honorable Marina Kaljurand, Ambassador of the Republic of Estonia, and Mr. Sten Schwede, Consul General of the Republic of Estonia, and music by Kaie Põhi Latterner; and a spring festival/picnic on May 4, 2014. On motion made and seconded, the members approved the plan and budget for 2013-14.

The KFES President reported the 2012-13 members of the KFES Board were willing to stand for re-election. On motion made and seconded, the Board was re-elected unanimously. There was no old business. In new business, the members discussed The Hangar Restaurant’s request that menus with up to four luncheon options be planned prior to each meeting to help The Hangar’s kitchen efficiently prepare lunch for the members’ meetings, regularly attended by 25 to 30 members. The KFES members agreed to do so and offered selections for the January 2014 luncheon menu. The meeting then adjourned and members had wonderful conversation over lunch.

For information about the Kesk Florida Eesti Selts, please contact:
Mr. Rein Raja at (727) 866-2614, raja77@verizon.net
Ms. Maare Kuuskvere at (941) 795-6835, jaank@verizon.net

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On October 27, 2013, after a long, productive and well-lived life as a highly regarded organic chemistry scientist, Heino Luts, our friend and long-time member of the Estonian Society of Central Florida (Kesk Florida Eesti Selts), passed away.

I was fortunate to meet Heino when both of us were young. I had just jumped off a Swedish merchant ship in New York. Heino was a seafarer of much greater caliber. At the end of World War II, he completed an epic sea voyage from Sweden to the United States in a 70-year-old 36-foot-long sailboat named Erma. This tiny boat was the home for several months for 16 Estonian modern-day Vikings whose goal was to sail to freedom.

They set sail because the Swedish government had turned over to Communist Russia exiled Estonian soldiers. This was a dramatic event: Some soldiers committed suicide as they were forced to transfer to the Soviet ship, others jumped overboard to drown themselves. The 16 who set sail decided they would rather face the stormy seas.

Once in the United States, Heino and I, together with his shipmate Voldemar Veedam, found a summer job in Vermont and became good friends. Veedam published an article about the voyage of Erma in Readers Digest and later also a book entitled Sailing to Freedom.

In his book Veedam described the initial dodging of Russian warships along the coast of Sweden, emergency repairs that had to be undertaken to keep the ancient Erma afloat, the horrible storms they had to endure and the many days of scant rations.

As they neared the American coast, after going for several days without food, they also ran out of drinking water. When things looked bleakest, when they thought they were about to perish, an American Coast Guard vessel spotted them. When the captain learned that this tiny boat had crossed the Atlantic, he generously provided them with all kinds of fancy foods and drinks they had forgotten existed. Their darkest hour was followed by a grand feast and realization that they had made it to freedom; they had made it to the land of their dreams. Veedam’s book became quite popular; it was translated into more than 20 languages. President Harry Truman realized that these 16 modern-day pilgrims were the kind of people that had contributed most to the greatness of the United States. He used his presidential powers to grant them legitimate immigrant status.

Heino Luts also wrote an autobiography but it has not been published. When Tõnu Toomepuu and I visited Heino during the last months of his life, he related to us parts of it. He told us about his narrow escapes from Soviet soldiers who were hunting for him, his miraculous flight to Finland, his extraordinary escape to Sweden. He also told us about the many medicines he produced in his laboratory and about his main hobby, deep-sea fishing, as well as all the Tampa Bay fishing boat captains he knew.

Heino Luts and his daughter attending a KFES luncheon, April 3, 2011

Heino Luts and his daughter attending a KFES luncheon

Heino is survived by his son and two daughters. I will talk to them about getting Heino’s book published. It would be good if we can be reminded of Heino’s life by the written word in addition to celebrating his life by the wonderful memories he left behind.

Heino’s friend,

November 3, 2013

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