Hirvo Surva studied choir conducting at the Georg Ots Tallinn Music School (1983, conducting teacher Silvia Mellik) and at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre (1990, conducting class of professor Ants Üleoja). He is the Chief Chorus Master of the Estonian National Opera Chorus, Chief Conductor of the Estonian National Opera Boys’ Choir, the Estonian United Boys’ Choir “Kalev” and the Revalia Male Chamber Choir. Since 1991, he has been actively participating as a conductor in the Estonian Song Festivals, and was the Artistic Director of the 8th (1997) and 9th (2002) Youth Song Celebration. He will be the artistic director of the 26th Estonian Song Celebration in 2014.
In 2003, he made his debut at the Estonian National Opera as the Conductor and Music Director of Britten’s opera “The Little Sweep”. He was also the Music Director of two plays: “The Kingdom of Vargamäe” (2006, in collaboration with Rakvere Theatre and Endla Theatre, A. H. Tammsaare, stage director U. Lennuk) and the performance “Eesti Asi” by R.A.A.A.M Theatre and Viinistu Music Academy (2007, M. Kivastik, stage director I. Vihmar).
His choirs have successfully participated in many international competitions and have won several prestigious awards: in 2003, he and the Revalia Male Chamber Choir participated in the Cornwall International Male Voice Choral Festival and won both the 1st prize and the Grand Prix. They also received the 1st prize and the Grand Prix at the 15th International S. Šimkus Choir Competition in Klaipeda, Lithuania (2005) and the 1st prize at the competition of the Estonian Male Choir Association (2008). Conducting the Estonian Boys’ Choir Kalev, he received first prize at the International Choir Festival at Nerpelt in Belgium (2008) and the choir has been named the Choir of the Year in 2005. He received the Special Award for Best Conductor at the Tallinn International Choir Festival 2001 and 2003. In 2003, he was also elected Conductor of the Year by the Estonian Choral Association and in the same year, the Revalia Male Chamber Choir received the title Choir of the Year. The Boys’ Choir “Kalev” won the title of Choir of the Year in 2005.
Hirvo Surva has been a member of the jury in many music competitions organized both in Estonia as well as abroad. Since 2001, he has been the Chairman of the Association of Estonian Choral Conductors. In 2006 and 2010, he was a visiting Resident Professor at the University of Oregon in the US and since 2008 he works as a teacher in Tallinn Music High School. He also teaches choral conductors as a Docent at Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre.
Hirvo Surva has received wide recognition: he was named the best conductor at the International Choir Festival Tallinn (2001, 2003). In 2002 Hirvo Surva received the annual grant of the Cultural Endowment of Estonia. In the same year, he also received the Outstanding Young Person Award of the Junior Chamber International Estonia (TOYP). In 2003 he won the Conductor of the Year Award by the Estonian Choral Association. In 2004, he was given the Badge of Honour by the city of Rakvere and in 2004, he received an Honorary Decoration from the city of Tallinn. In 2008 he was given the Cultural Endowment of Estonia Award and in 2012 the Gustav Ernesaks Award and in 2014 the title “Person of the Year” by Postimees newspaper and “Musician of the Year” title by Estonian Public Broadcasting.