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Virtual song fest marks 'E-Stonian' independence

The Baltic nation, known for its tech prowess, celebrates 19 years of post-Soviet independence with a massive digital music fest that links singers online.

Spectators gather around a projection screen in Toila, Estonia, for Friday's digital song festival. AFP Photo/Raigo Pajula

Independence day celebrations are typically marked with national anthems, but Estonia--sometimes called "E-Stonia" for its tech prowess--kicked the tradition up a few octaves Friday evening with a digital music festival that linked singers the world over.

The event honored the 19th anniversary of the country's post-Soviet independence, brought on by several years of non-violent events known as the "Singing Revolution." Choirs and individual singers from 100 locations across the Baltic nation connected online with crooners (and conductors) at the main venue--Friendship Park in the central Estonian town of Poltsamaa. The event streamed live on Estonian television and the Internet, while a live feed projected the goings-on onto large screens in public venues nationwide as singers performed eight national classics.

Estonia Wi-Fi signs
Estonia ranks as one of the world's most wired nations. cfarivar, Creative Commons

The Estonian singalong is being dubbed the "world's first" digital song fest. We don't know for sure that that's true, but given Estonia's reputation as a tech titan, it's entirely plausible.

Skype, for example, is a product of Estonian engineering. The country supports more mobile phone accounts--almost 2 million--than it does people, according to the U.S. Department of State, and it's lauded for nearly universal Wi-Fi access, much of it free.

Friday's digital festival "was organized to combine the two things that have made a name for Estonia globally, IT innovation and a long tradition of song festivals," organizer Artur Talvik told Agence France-Presse. The nation of 1.3 million is associated with a longstanding tradition of music fests, including a performance every five years by a choir of some 24,000 singers.