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26th May 2019

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Estonians treat Juncker and Tusk to 'noisy' heavy metal act

  • Metsatoll performing at the official EU presidency ceremony in Tallinn (Photo: EU2017EE Estonian Preside)

Estonia has officially opened its EU presidency on Thursday (29 June) with a ceremony that included some unconventional elements.

After speeches by Estonian prime minister Juri Ratas, European Council president Donald Tusk, and European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker, three bagpipe musicians performed Ludwig van Beethoven's Ode to Joy, the unofficial EU anthem.

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The ceremony also included acrobatic performances, a boys' choir, and a theatre play.

But Juncker and Tusk may have been somewhat taken aback by one choice of the choreographer, to include a performance by heavy metal band Metsatoll.

It followed a speech by Tusk praising Estonia's Singing Revolution, which led to the country's renewed independence after decades of Soviet occupation.

"Never before - and never after - had I seen anything so moving in public life. So powerful and peaceful at the same time," said Tusk, who also grew up behind the Iron Curtain, in Poland.

Tusk called Estonia an example for other EU countries.

"What has made an equally strong impression on the rest of Europe more recently, is your determination and creativity in realising the vast project of digitalisation. Estonia," said Tusk.

Heavy metal

Whereas previous presidencies have presented their country's more traditional music, Estonia chose to present itself as a nation of headbangers.

The group played three songs, in the Tallinn Creative Hub, or Kultuurikatel, a former coal-fired power plant.

According to one audience member, Metsatoll is particularly popular among Estonian youth.

Metsatoll has been around since the turn of the millennium, and has toured in Europe and North America.

On Friday morning, Juncker referred to the opening ceremony in a joint press conference with prime minister Ratas.

"The concert yesterday night was special," he said, adding that it was "noisy".

It is unclear whether his budget commissioner, Guenther Oettinger, and Estonian commissioner Andrus Ansip (digital single market), who were also present for the ceremony, appreciated the wall of sound.

Donald Tusk (60) has previously profiled himself as belonging to an older musical generation.

Earlier this month, he came out as a John Lennon fan, when he quoted the song "Imagine", in relation to Brexit.

At a press conference at the EU summit in Brussels, Tusk specified his preference of Lennon over Paul McCartney.

Estonia will hold the rotating EU presidency from 1 July until the end of the year.

Metsatoll performing at the opening ceremony of the Estonian EU presidency

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