CD members. You see them on stage in their functions, often business-like. But there is a different side to every one of them. Each CD members has talents and hobbies, which often are on hold during the year in Brussels. Jüri Kirpu (24), Internal Relations Director in the current CD, has such a hobby. He plays piano. He even gives concerts. And has a Facebook page with more than 100 fans of his music.

Golden Times: Jüri, you are known as very good piano player. Where could people see you perform so far in concert?
Jüri Kirpu: Up until now I have played one official and a couple of spontaneous concerts in Brussels. In Tallinn I have played at my university for several occasions, in Tartu at a festival and during my year abroad in Köln I played a couple of shows in cafes. Recently, while visiting Amsterdam, I played also at a library there.

Golden Times: What do you like so much about playing piano?
Jüri: It would be many things. It is easy to create sounds, but difficult to organise those sounds into a coherent structure. I like its universality, because you can see how sound is structured from the lowest ones to the highest ones in black and white, which has a symbolic gesture to it.

Golden Times: Nice! When did you actually start playing piano?
Jüri: I started playing piano in the 2nd grade of primary school in the Nõmme Music School. It was because I sang in the Estonian boys’ choir, where it was obligatory to know how to play an instrument. At first I really did not want to do it, because learning the basics to anything is a bit dull

Golden Times: How much did you practise per week?
Jüri: I practised roughly half an hour per day, because I had to. After graduating I didn’t play for almost 2 years and one day when coming home from school, when I really had a bad day, I for some reason sat behind the piano and started to meddle with keys. After a while I discovered that I wrote a small tune. Everything went on from there.

Golden Times: Many piano players like improvising or composing. Are you good at that too?
Jüri: I would say, that for me it is still a long road ahead what comes to composing and developing my technical and theoretical side. What I find I am good at, is finding inspiration in the moment and improvising. It is freeing in many ways, because you have no limitations, besides your own creativity and you can discover lots of interesting things, just by not thinking about it and by making mistakes, which sometimes can be the best things that happen.

Golden Times: Do you have any special memories of things happening when playing piano?
Jüri: Once when I was supposed to play, there was no instrument present in the hallway at the Tallinn University and the organisers and I had to carry a piano three floors down. It was quite heavy.

Golden Times: I guess right now you’d be happy to carry a piano if the AEGEE-Europe head office had one… Currently you are looking for places in Brussels to rehearse and to give concerts. What do you need?  
Jüri: Yes, that is true. I think that it is a general problem when moving somewhere. You kind of have to give up some habits, because of the different environment, which is why I also had to give up practising the piano. I had an opportunity to play at a charity concert here in Brussels and it was such a success, that it inspired this little pursuit for searching a place to practise and give other concerts. So what I need is a place to practise piano and where I won’t disturb anybody.

Golden Times: Good luck! By the way, what’s your favourite style of music?
Jüri: I think that this is the thoughest question, because I listen to a lot of different things, which is why I would say, that I like certain songs, pieces and compositions more, than styles. For some reason it would be logical to say, that because one of my most favourite music is jazz, but there are lots of pieces, which everybody says are great, but I really cannot find them amazing.

Golden Times: Let’s be more concrete then: who is your favourite composer for piano music?
Jüri: For piano music there are several. In the beginning I started listening to Ray Charles and Esbjörn Svensson, just because of blues influences and in Svenssons case it was just the simplicity of complexity. With his playing he somehow manages to convey very intricate ideas in an understandable form to which everybody can relate to. This continued with Avishai Cohen, who is a bassist, but leads a piano trio. The energy that he produces was just something beyond everything that contained jazz musicians usually have. Continuing from there I discovered several artists at a time, like Brad Mehldau, with his ingenious way of interpretation of different music, Yaron Herman for his really essential style, Hiromi Uehara for her mind blowing playing technique, that lots of pianists dream of, Tigran Hamassyan for his passion and eagerness and the piano trio The Bad Plus, who always reinvent themselves and who always manage to find themselves in a new way.

Golden Times: That’s a lot! With this general interest in music, do you also play other instruments?
Jüri: For short periods I have played drums, bass guitar while living in Köln and now guitar in the CD house – since I do not have a piano here. However, I don’t consider it as “playing other instruments“. I just have an idea how they work, which is actually quite important while playing music with other people. I think that playing drums is very complimentary to playing piano, because you have to play different rhythmical parts with your hands or with feet and it helps with your piano playing technique, since you have to train your limbs to do separate things.

More info about Jüri Kirpu: Check his Facebook page. On this page you can also listen to him playing music.

About Jüri Kirpu

Coming from Tallin, 24-year old Jüri Kirpu I studied Finnish language, culture and literature (Fennistics) in the Universities of Tallinn and Köln University. Currently he is living in Brussels and is member of the European board of AEGEE, the Comité Directeur (CD). Jüri Kirpu is actually the first CD member ever from Estonia. “Being in the CD is definitely one of the most challenging things that I have been part of, for various reasons”, says Jüri. “Despite all of these challenges and hardships it is really beyond anything what people would come in contact from day to day.”