The Eighteenth International Lahti Sibelius Festival coincided with the centenary year of Finland’s political independence. In a previous year forty percent of tickets were sold to non-Finnish patrons, so its claim of international status is well justified. As usual concert tickets and hotel accommodation had been arranged at a special price for Sibelius One members. Click here to read the full review by Geoff Hayes.
The Lahti Symphony Orchestra has invited the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra to perform at the concert in the Sibelius Hall on Friday 1 September 2017 as part of the Lahti Symphony Orchestra’s 18th International Sibelius Festival. The GSO will be conducted by Santtu-Matias Rouvali, the rising star conductor, originally from Lahti, who takes over as principal conductor in Gothenburg in autumn and will bring his new orchestra to his home town right away. It will be the first foreign visit by Rouvali together with the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra (the National Orchestra of Sweden).
The Lahti Symphony Orchestra’s 18th International Sibelius Festival will take place at the Sibelius Hall from 30 August until 3 September 2017, and its artistic director is Dima Slobodeniouk, principal conductor of the Lahti Symphony Orchestra. In addition to the concert by the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, there will be three concerts by the Lahti Symphony Orchestra under Slobodeniouk’s baton (Wednesday 30 August, Thursday 31 August and Saturday 2 September), as well as chamber concerts and other events. The theme of the programmes of music by Sibelius is the centenary of Finland’s independence, and the orchestral concerts will include, among other works, the Second and Fifth Symphonies, Spring Song, En saga, The Wood-Nymph and the Press Celebrations Music; further details of the repertoire will be announced shortly. The festival is also part of the national ‘Finland 100’ programme of events.
Dima Slobodeniouk, artistic director of the Sibelius festival, regards the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra’s visit as a landmark in the festival’s history: ‘One of Sibelius’s most important champions outside Finland was the composer and conductor Wilhelm Stenhammar, who was principal conductor of the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra from 1907 until 1922. When we speak of Finland’s independence, we should remember that the year 1917 marks an important phase in Sibelius’s life as well, when knowledge of his music was spreading rapidly internationally, and the Gothenburg orchestra played an important part in this’.
Sten Cranner, general manager and artistic director of the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, says that the orchestra is genuinely honoured by and grateful for the invitation to perform at the Lahti Sibelius Festival in 2017. ‘Most of all because Jean Sibelius is so important for the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra’s repertoire, history and identity, but it’s certainly also very special for us in that we will make a guest appearance at the festival for the first time in Finland’s anniversary year. This will also be our very first concert outside Sweden with our new chief conductor, Santtu-Matias Rouvali.’
The Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, one of Europe’s most highly renowned symphony orchestras, was founded in 1905. The orchestra played Sibelius’s music for the first time in 1907, performing the Second Symphony under the baton of Armas Järnefelt. In the decades that followed, the Second Symphony featured on the orchestra’s programmes so often that it became an unofficial calling card.
In February 1911 Sibelius conducted his own music in Sweden for the first time, with the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra (in works including Pohjola’s Daughter and the Third Symphony), and in 1915 Sibelius’s only wartime trip abroad took him to Sweden, where he conducted his own music in Gothenburg. He visited Gothenburg again to conduct his own works in 1923, and dedicated his Sixth Symphony – completed that year – to Stenhammar. When Stenhammar died in 1927, Sibelius wrote: ‘In all my life I have never met such a noble and idealistic person as Wilhelm Stenhammar. I am proud that I could count myself among his friends. He meant so much to my art! How infinitely empty it feels now that he is no longer with us.
The orchestra’s strong Sibelius tradition continued even after Stenhammar’s time, for example with the conductor Neeme Järvi, who recorded two cycles of Sibelius symphonies in Gothenburg (for BIS and Deutsche Grammophon). Among the BIS Sibelius recordings are also numerous world premières, for instance of the opera The Maiden in the Tower, the Overtures in A minor and E major, Ballet Scene and Academic March.
The fifteenth ‘Sibelius i Korpo’ festival will take place on 22–24 July 2016.
The programmes feature also music by Ferruccio Busoni (1866–1924), in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of his birth. Performers at this years’s festival include:
Satu Jalas, violin
Sebastian Silén, violin
Domenico Ermirio, cello
Hedvig Paulig, soprano
Folke Gräsbeck, piano & artistic director
Provisional concert programmes are as follows:
Friday 22 July 2016 at 9 pm / Korpo gård Busoni: Andante mit Variationen und Scherzo for piano trio Sibelius: Florestan, suite for piano
Songs: Skogsrået; Likhet; Jubal
King Christian II, incidental music
Malinconia for cello & piano Armas Järnefelt: Berceuse
Saturday 23 July 2016 at 6 pm / Korpo gård Busoni: Kultaselle Variations J.S. Bach/Busoni: Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme Sibelius: Étude for solo violin
Suite in E major for violin & piano
Sonata in F major for violin & piano Sibelius’s granddaughter Satu Jalas will also make a presentation about her grandfather.
Sunday 24 July 2016 at 4 pm / Korpo gård
Sibelius: Piano Trio in A minor, ‘Hafträsk’
Rondino, Romance, Tanz-Idylle, Humoresque & Valse for violin & piano Armas Järnefelt: Songs: Titania; Du (Karl Asplund); Leivo; Viel’ ois virttä tieossani Sibelius: Songs: Jag kysser dig och ledsnar ej; Löjet var utan hem [World Première Performance]; Sommarnatt; Vem styrde hit din väg?
Danses champêtres Nos 1–3 for violin and piano
There will also be the traditional annual ceremony, with music, speeches and flowers, at the Sibelius statue in Korpo village, at 1 pm on Saturday 23 July, with festival organizer Petri Kirkkomäki and Erkki Korhonen from the Sibelius Birth Town Foundation, Hämeenlinna.
On Sunday 24 July at 11 am there will be a screening of Douglas Sivén’s documantary film ‘Sibelius i Korpo’.
Further information will be posted when available.
The Lahti Symphony Orchestra’s 17th International Sibelius Festival will take place at the Sibelius Hall in Lahti on 8th–11th September 2016. The three orchestral concerts will be conducted by the orchestra’s chief conductor and the festival’s new artistic director, Dima Slobodeniouk. The full programme for the festival – including chamber music concerts and other Sibelius-themed events – will be published later.
Programmes for the 2016 Sibelius Festival’s orchestral concerts
Thursday 8th September 2016 Pohjola’s Daughter
Symphony No. 1
Friday 9th September 2016 The Dryad
The Tempest, concert suite
Symphony No. 4
Saturday 10th September 2016 Pan and Echo
Pelléas et Mélisande
Symphony No. 3
Slobodeniouk: ‘Not everything in music can be – or needs to be – explained’
The conductor Dima Slobodeniouk believes in music in its own right, and in its power as an absolute art form. ‘In my opinion Sibelius’s works prove that not everything in music can be – or needs to be – explained. Of course historical facts can deepen our understanding, but the music itself remains the primus motor’, says Slobodeniouk. ‘For the orchestral concerts at the 2016 Sibelius Festival I have chosen works from different periods that, I feel, speak to each other. One of the programmes consists of works that Sibelius composed in successive years: Pelléas et Mélisande in 1905, Pan and Echo in 1906 and the Third Symphony in 1907. I feel that there is such a clear thread that unites them all that I could not fail to play them in proximity to each other. In the other orchestral programmes I have aimed both for contrasts and for musical affinities.’
Sibelius One will be organizing a group booking for the 2016 Sibelius Festival. Details will be announced in due course.
Dima Slobodeniouk has been appointed as principal conductor of the Lahti Symphony Orchestra, starting in the autumn of 2016. Slobodeniouk will also be artistic director of the orchestra’s annual Sibelius Festival. The City Board of the Lahti Municipality Association made the appointment at a meeting on 17th August 2015. Slobodeniouk’s contract will run until the spring season of 2019.
Slobodeniouk remarks: ‘When people ask me whether I have always wanted to be a conductor, more and more often my answer is: No, I have not. Despite me, growing up in a family of orchestra musicians, I simply had no idea what it is like to be a conductor. Today, when the fact of me taking over a position of Music Director of Lahti Symphony Orchestra becomes a reality, I once again realise, that being a conductor is what I want and what I live for.’
Slobodeniouk sees the forthcoming collaboration as a wonderful chance to develop musical relationships with the orchestra and audiences both in Lahti and internationally. ‘I was lucky enough to be able to build and maintain a very open and fruitful relationship with Lahti Symphony Orchestra ever since I first conducted them in 2001 replacing Leif Segerstam. Today – this is a big honour and a challenge for me to create something new on the foundation of a great orchestra tradition in Lahti’, says Slobodeniouk. ‘I believe and hope, that with our music making we can influence people’s lives regardless of their age or social background. The unique thing about classical music is the fact that it does not have to be verbalised or explained. That way it can reach and touch anyone.’
Teemu Kirjonen, General Manager of the Lahti Symphony Orchestra, says: ‘After the triumphant chief conductorships of Vänskä, Saraste and Kamu, we are looking forward to our time with Slobodeniouk with great enthusiasm. On the basis of what the orchestra has already achieved with him in the past few years, we may expect great things in the future.’ Slobodeniouk already enjoys a major international career and, Kirjonen believes, having him as chief conductor will be an excellent springboard for the further development of the orchestra’s artistic level, and for the continuation of its touring and recording activities.
Petri Komulainen, chairman of the committee representing the players in the Lahti Symphony Orchestra, says that he is very proud and excited at the new appointment, and describes the orchestra as being on the threshold of a new era. ‘Slobodeniouk has close ties to Finland, combined with an international career that is very much on the up. I’m convinced that he will manage to bring a new, energetic perspective to the orchestra’s work, and that his performances will appeal to an ever wider audience.’
Moscow-born Dima Slobodeniouk has made Finland his home for over two decades. A former student at Helsinki’s prestigious Sibelius Academy, he began his conducting studies in 1994 under the tutelage of Leif Segerstam and Jorma Panula. Currently music director of the Orquesta Sinfónica de Galicia, he is a regular guest conductor of the Helsinki Philharmonic and Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestras as well as London’s Philharmonia Orchestra, the Orchestre de Paris and the Netherlands, RAI Turin and Stuttgart Radio Philharmonic Orchestras. Slobodeniouk collaborates with many of today’s composers, among them Kalevi Aho, Sebastian Fagerlund, Jörg Widmann and Lotta Wennäkoski.
The Flinders Quartet (Helen Ayres and Shane Chen, violins; Helen Ireland, viola; Zoe Knighton, cello) is presenting a Sibelius Festival at Kew Court House, Melbourne, Australia. The Quartet has already won acclaim for its Sibelius performances in 2015, and this festival continues its ground-breaking traversal of Sibelius’s string quartet music in a project that is introducing Australian audiences to this extensive body of rarely played music. The Flinders Quartet will also be a distinguished guest at the 2015 ‘Sibelius in Korpo’ festival in the Turku archipelago (17th–19th July).
Saturday 4th July, 3 pm
Quartet E flat major, JS 184
Andante festivo, JS 34a
Quartet A minor, JS 183
Saturday 4th July, 7 pm
Quartet in B flat major, Op. 4
Piano Quintet in G minor, JS 159 (with Stefan Cassomenos, piano)
Sunday 5th July, 1 pm: In Conversation: Sibelius Himself
Zoe Knighton, Sibelius expert Geoffrey Hayes and raconteur Barry Jones
Sunday 5th July, 3 pm
Molto moderato – Scherzo, JS 134
Adagio in D minor, JS 12
Fugue for Martin Wegelius, JS 85
Quartet in D minor, ‘Voces intimae’, Op. 56
The programme for the song recital at this year’s Sibelius Festival in Lahti (on Sunday 6th September at 11 am) has been announced.
The recital will be given by the mezzo-soprano Erica Back, second prize winner at this year’s International Sibelius Singing Competition, with the pianist Kristian Attila.
Våren flyktar hastigt [Spring Flies Speedily], Op. 13 No. 4
Se’n har jag ej frågat mera [Since Then I Have Questioned No Further], Op. 17 No. 1
Sov in! [Go to Sleep!], Op. 17 No. 2
Vilse [Astray], Op. 17 No. 4
Lastu lainehilla [Driftwood], Op. 17 No. 7
Im Feld ein Mädchen singt [In the Field a Maid Sings], Op. 50 No. 3
Rosenlied [Song of the Roses], Op. 50 No. 6
Die stille Stadt [The Silent City], Op. 50 No. 5
Aus banger Brust [From Anxious Heart], Op. 50 No. 4
Hertig Magnus [Duke Magnus], Op. 57 No. 6
Soluppgång [Sunrise], Op. 37 No. 3
Lasse Liten [Little Lasse], Op. 37 No. 2
Den första kyssen [The First Kiss], Op. 37 No. 1
Kyssen [The Kiss], Op. 72 No. 3
Bollspelet vid Trianon [Tennis at Trianon], Op. 36 No. 3
Men min fågel märks dock icke [But My Bird is Long in Homing], Op. 36 No. 2
Demanten på marssnön [The Diamond on the March Snow], Op. 36 No. 6
Säv, säv, susa [Sigh, Sigh, Sedges], Op. 36 No. 4
Narciss [Narcissus], JS 140
The programme will also include two piano solo pieces:
Björken [The Birch], Op. 75 No. 4
Granen [The Spruce], Op. 75 No. 5
The Golfo del Tigullio Sibelius Festival in Italy in October 2015 now has its own website – click here.
The site contains information about concert programmes, the musicians who will be performing and the concert venues as well as general information about the festival’s aims and press information.
The festival’s artistic director is the composer, conductor and musicologist Federico Ermirio and the programmes include lesser-known music by Sibelius (including his compositions for kantele) as well as more familiar works (e.g. Rakastava, Romance in C major) and pieces by other, predominantly Nordic composers (e.g. Edvard Grieg, Aulis Sallinen, Jukka Tiensuu).
Programmes have been announced for the two piano concerts in this year’s International Sibelius Festival in Lahti.
Folke Gräsbeck / Tuesday 1st September / 4.30 pm / Kalevi Aho Hall
[Aubade] in A flat major, JS 46
Largo in A major, JS 117 (Kesälahti version)
Andantino in D major ‘Till Emma Kristina Marie-Louise Berndtson. Lulu’
Lento in E major, JS 119
[Polka] ‘Aino’ in C minor
Adagio in E major, JS 13
Thirteen Pieces, Op. 76
Souvenir, Op. 99/3
Moment de valse, Op. 99/7
Five Romantic Compositions, Op. 101
Morceau romantique sur un motif de M. Jacob de Julin, JS 135b
Landscape II (1928–29)
Paavali Jumppanen / Thursday 3rd September / 3 pm / Kalevi Aho Hall
Kyllikki, Op. 41
Five Pieces ‘The Flowers’, Op. 85
Sonatina No. 1 in F sharp minor, Op. 67/1
Five Characteristic Impressions, Op. 103
Sonatina No. 3 in B flat minor, Op. 67/3
A Sibelius Festival is being arranged in ‘Golfo del Tigullio’ (Liguria, Italy), in October 2015.
The festival celebrates the 150th anniversary of Sibelius’s birth and is organized in collaboration with the Amministrazioni Comunali of Rapallo, Santa Margherita Ligure and Recco, and supported by the Embassy of Finland in Rome.
Sibelius and his family visited Rapallo in early 1901, and while there he worked on his Second Symphony.