The Lahti Symphony Orchestra, Sibelius and colourful music at LuostoClassic in August 2015
The fells of the Pyhä-Luosto region echoed to classical music for the 13th time on August 6–9, 2015. The theme of the LuostoClassic 2015 festival was Pictures at an Exhibition – colour in music, music in colours. The programme also paid homage to Jean Sibelius, born 150 years ago. In honour of the anniversary, LuostoClassic was treating listeners to orchestral music by Sibelius never before heard at Luosto’s latitude, provided by an orchestra, the Lahti Symphony, making its first appearance at the festival. This visit continued our series of magnificent guest orchestras.
Seldom has music by Sibelius been performed by a large orchestra so far north. The performances this time were indeed a new departure for LuostoClassic, and a fine contribution to the jubilee year. The Lahti Symphony Orchestra has earned itself a magnificent international reputation for its performances of Sibelius in the past couple of decades. At the closing concert on Sunday August 9 it, under its Principal Conductor Okko Kamu, performed Sibelius’s symphonic poem Tapiola, a work of stark sparseness but inner drive that could not be more fitting amid the rugged landscape of Ukko-Luosto. Other Sibelius items on the programme were the mighty Symphony No. 5 and the Scene with Cranes, again exploiting the potential of the fell-side platform.
Kalevi Aho has been the Lahti Orchestra’s Composer-in-Residence since 1992, and it has premiered the majority of his works for orchestra. The one chosen for LuostoClassic was Gejia, Chinese Images. Aho has played an active part at LuostoClassic since 2003, when the very first festival premiered his Luosto Symphony on the fell-side Ukko-Luosto platform.
Lahti musicians also played at the lakeside Ahvenlampi picnic on Saturday morning. Responsible for the music was the Sinfonia Lahti Brass Ensemble.
The choral visitor this summer came from Turku – the semi-professional Key Ensemble conducted by Teemu Honkanen. Working in periodic sessions, this choir has given numerous performances in Finland and in 2013 won first prize in the Let the People Sing competition in Luxemburg. The Key Ensemble was heard twice at LuostoClassic: on the Ukko-Luosto platform on Thursday August 6 and in Sodankylä Church on Friday August 7. On the latter occasion it performed the wonderful but difficult All-Night Vigil by Serge Rachmaninoff.
As our foreign guests this year we welcomed violinist Andrej Bielow – born in Ukraine and a veritable comet on the international firmament – and one of the finest young-generation ensembles, the Atrium Quartet. Founded in Russia, the quartet now has its base in Germany. Bielow was dazzling Luosto listeners in such works as Maurice Ravel’s Tzigane and Ludwig van Beethoven’s Kreutzer Sonata. The Atrium Quartet was, for example, playing Dmitri Shostakovich’s last string quartet on Sunday August 9. It was on this date, exactly 40 years ago, that Shostakovich died.
In addition to the Saturday picnic, LuostoClassic 2015 had some other novelties in store. On the programme for Friday morning was the light musical LuostoClassic Goes to the Fells – a nature walk with local guides from Kairankutsu and players from the Youth LuostoClassic Orchestra Camp.
For the first time this year, the early Friday-evening concert was held in the intimate milieu of Sodankylä Old Church. The artists in this concert were Timo Korhonen, guitar, and Andrej Bielow, a violin. The venue for the late-night concert on Friday was the Kelo Restaurant, the scene of concerts on several previous occasions. Breaking with tradition, LuostoClassic this time continued after the closing concert on Sunday evening with a chamber music recital at Santa’s Hotel Aurora.
Another new addition to the festival repertoire this August was the theatre production devised by actor-stage director Dan Henriksson and guitar virtuoso Timo Korhonen. Called Platero and I, it uses a text by Nobel Prize-winner Juan Ramón Jiménez and music by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco.
At this summer’s LuostoClassic Timo Korhonen further appeared in three other concerts. Korhonen is widely known as a world-class all-round guitarist who actively commissions and performs new works for guitar. He has also transcribed for guitar and recorded the complete Partitas and Sonatas for solo violin by Johann Sebastian Bach. Samples of some of these were heard at Luosto in August.
The first guest singer this year was Miina-Liisa Värelä, soprano, appearing in four concerts. Miina-Liisa first made news in summer 2011 on winning the Timo Mustakallio Competition at the Savonlinna Opera Festival. Since then, she has made a fine career on the opera stage, the concert platform and as a Lied singer. At Luosto she performed such works as the Blok Songs by Dmitri Shostakovich and the Seven Spanish Folk Songs by Manuel de Falla with Timo Korhonen, and works by Jean Sibelius at the closing concert.
Wind music was heard again in August in Kopara Reindeer Park. The other singing star, artist Miina Äkkijyrkkä, was presenting her maybe not so well-known side as a poet and a singer-songwriter. This was Äkkijyrkkä´s first appearance in LuostoClassic but she was not alone: also tuba player Harri Lidsle and percussionist Casper Lidsle joined Äkkijyrkkä at the reindeer fence.
Starring in the traditional late-night concert of first-class jazz at the Lapland Hotel Luostotunturi on Saturday were Aki Rissanen, piano, Teppo Mäkynen, drums, and Antti Lötjönen, bass. Theme of this concert was love, and it included Rissanen´s compositions from the short film Amorandom.
Of the Finnish guests: pianist Martti Rautio and clarinettist Tuulia Ylönen were familiar from last year’s LuostoClassic. As was, of course, the festival’s Artistic Director, Marko Ylönen, whose fine cello playing could be admired at four concerts.
In addition to music and musicians, LuostoClassic was presenting paintings by Heinrich Ilmari Rautio. Many of the concerts highlighted a work by him in keeping with their theme. This work was on display not only at the concert in question but also throughout the festival at an exhibition of his art. At a public talk on Friday afternoon he, furthermore, told about his work and paintings.
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The classical music compass points north – to LuostoClassic waiting in the fells
A good 100 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle lies the beautiful Pyhä-Luosto region. And it is here, surrounded by wild arctic scenery, that LuostoClassic will fill the air with music for the 13th time in August 2015.
LuostoClassic is a ground-breaking classical music event set in the magical, mysterious fells of Lapland. Visitors may wonder at the acoustics of the Ice Age screes at Aittakuru, enjoy the peace and quiet by the Ahvenlampi waters or laze among blueberries at the unique Ukko-Luosto arena on Luosto Fell. The LuostoClassic concerts are the harmonious combination of a passion for music and stunning scenery.
LuostoClassic dates back to 2003, the year in which Kalevi Aho’s Luosto Symphony was premiered on the fell-side. The Festival celebrated its tenth anniversary in style in August 2012, when its main guest was the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra. One of the best-known orchestras in Europe, the BBC Philharmonic made its first appearance in Finland at our very own Ukko-Luosto. Our other visiting orchestras have included the Finnish Radio Symphony, the Helsinki Philharmonic, the Chamber Orchestra of Lapland, the Tampere Philharmonic, the Avanti! Chamber Orchestra, the Sinfonietta Rīga, the Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra and the Lahti Symphony.
The Pyhä-Luosto region was once again filled with stirring music in August 2015. The concert venues were already familiar to festival audiences: Ahvenlampi, Santa’s Hotel Aurora, Aittakuru, the Lapland Hotel Luostotunturi, the Chapel of the Northern Lights, the Naava Visitor Centre, the Kopara Reindeer Park, Restaurant Kelo, Restaurant Vaisko, Sodankylä Church and the acoustically excellent open-air platform Ukko-Luosto. New to the festival this year was Sodankylä Old Church.
The Youth LuostoClassic orchestra camp that got off to such a good start last year was held again this year from August 2 to 9.
The plans for the upcoming program 2016 have already been started. Stay tuned on the classical levels for more news at the beginning of 2016.
We invite all classical music lovers to join us on a musical visit to Lapland – LuostoClassic, naturally, now for the 14th time!
LuostoClassic will be held for the 14th time in the Pyhä-Luosto region of Finnish Lapland
on August 11–14, 2016.