Nordic Reflections: choral music – streaming concert

A concert featuring some of Sibelius’s best-loved choral music alongside works by Elgar and Matthew Whittall  will be streamed live from Kings Place, London, on Thursday 3 June 2021 at 7.30 pm. The Carice Singers are conducted by George Parris.

After the live broadcast the event will be available on demand until Thursday 10 June.

Full programme:

Elgar My love dwelt in a northern land
Sibelius Min rastas raataa
Sibelius Män från slätten och havet
Elgar Evening Scene
Elgar The Fountain
Sibelius Rakastava
Elgar Love
Elgar Serenade
Sibelius Sortunut ääni
Sibelius Saarella palaa
Elgar Owls (An Epitaph)
Elgar O Wild west wind!
Sibelius Sydämeni laulu
Sibelius Venematka
Matthew Whittall Lauantaisauna (Saturday sauna)

Under their director George Parris the Carice Singers are becoming well-known for superb performances and imaginative programmes. Here they focus on two world-famous contemporaries, Elgar and Sibelius who, despite coming from opposite ends of Europe, share many influences, traits and tensions in their music. The programme travels between the Malvern Hills and Finnish forests, ending in the steamy embrace of Matthew Whittall’s evocation of a Saturday evening sauna. The concert is generously supported by the Nicholas John Trust.

Price: £9.50

Link to the event / tickets: click here

(Image: Broken reflections, Saimaa Canal, Russia by Ninara, Creative Commons CC BY 2.0)

Sibelius’s ‘new’ concert overture performed

Newpaper reviews of the concert overture from ‘The Maiden in the Tower’

On 23 May 2021 the Avanti! Chamber Orchestra under Tuomas Hannikainen performed Sibelius’s 12-minute Concert Overture, consisting of material from the opera Jungfrun i tornet (The Maiden in the Tower), at Helsinki’s Ritarihuone. The work was last heard in April 1900 in Turku, conducted by the composer. The reviewer of Uusi Aura called the piece a ‘ballad’ that ‘attracted much attention’; his colleague in Åbo Underrättelser mentioned that the piece had not been performed in Turku before, and was received with ‘sympathetic applause’.

Previously it has been assumed that the overture performed in Turku was just the orchestral introduction to the opera, some three minutes of music that lack an effective concert ending. When examining the original manuscript, however, Hannikainen became curious about some markings and changes, apparently in Sibelius’s handwriting. Through extensive research into the manuscript and other sources he was able to reconstruct the longer overture, i.e. the Concert Overture, which incorporates material from various different places in the opera.

Among the other music in the concert were Sibelius’s suite from Belshazzar’s Feast and the melodrama The Countess’s Portrait.

The concert can be heard here:, and a video recording of the Concert Overture can be seen on the orchestra’s YouTube channel.

The score is being published by Fennica Gehrman, and performance materials will be available for hire (


Sakari Oramo’s Sibelius in Stockholm

Illustration by Jenny Svenberg Bunnel from Konserthuset website

Sakari Oramo’s final concerts as chief conductor of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra are an in-depth journey through Jean Sibelius’s music, including all seven symphonies in chronological order. All concerts will be available to listen to free online.

Click below for links:

Wednesday 19 May 2021, 19.30 Swedish time (18.30 UK):
Symphony No. 1; Symphony No. 2 

Saturday 22 May 2021, 15.00 Swedish time (14.00 UK):
Symphony No. 3; Luonnotar; Symphony No. 4
Anu Komsi, soprano

Wednesday 26 May 2021, 19.30 Swedish time (18.30 UK):
Violin Concerto; Symphony No. 5
Lisa Batiashvili, violin

Saturday 29 May 2021, 15.00 Swedish time (14.00 UK):
Symphony No. 6; Two Serious Melodies; Symphony No. 7
Johannes Rostamo, cello


Lahti Sibelius Festival 2021 – Programmes

The Lahti Symphony Orchestra’s 22nd International Sibelius Festival will take place at the Sibelius Hall from 2–5 September 2021. Its artistic director is Dalia Stasevska, the new principal conductor of the Lahti Symphony Orchestra. Guest artists are violinist Pekka Kuusisto, Tomas Djupsjöbacka conducting the Finnish Baroque Orchestra, actor Seela Sella, pianist Tähe-Lee Liiv, bass-baritone Andrew Foster-Williams, and folk musicians.

Timo Alakotila: Prelude to Sibelius’s Kullervo
Jean Sibelius: Kullervo

Sibelius’s early piano music and Aino’s letters to Janne         
Timo Alakotila: Prelude to Sibelius’s Violin Concerto
Jean Sibelius: Violin Concerto
Timo Alakotila: Prelude to Sibelius’s Symphony No. 5
Jean Sibelius: Symphony No. 5

Runic songs boat trip to Myllysaari
Jean Sibelius: Lemminkäinen suite
Jean Sibelius: Pohjola’s Daughter
Jean Sibelius (arr. Einojuhani Rautavaara): In the Stream of Life
Jean Sibelius: The Bard
Jean Sibelius: En saga

Runic songs boat trip to Myllysaari

Click here for further information.

Sibelius Monument Organ Concert

Photo: Leeann Coller (Public Domain / CC0 licence)

Innovative technology is set to transform the famous ‘organ pipes’ of Eila Hiltunen’s Sibelius Monument in Helsinki (1967) into a fully functioning concert organ for one day only. The manuals (adapted from two digital pianos) and pedals (attached with superglue to a fibreboard plank) will be positioned behind the separate ‘head’ of the monument and will communicate via Bluetooth with a wind generator that will cause the monument’s pipes to sound. ‘We had some luck with the wind generator’, comments organist Juhani S. Puro. ‘With the current reduction in air travel we were able to borrow a jet engine from Helsinki-Vantaa airport and temporarily convert it to run off electricity. It’s a bit noisy but creates plenty of thrust.’ Electrical power will be sourced from a series of large solar panels that will be located in the bay to the west of the Sibelius Park.

Details of the organ

At 12 noon today Juhani S. Puro will perform Sibelius’s Intrada and Surusoitto, plus a newly rediscovered organ arrangement by Stravinsky of Sibelius’s Canzonetta [Op. 62a] on this unique instrument.

Note: Social distancing rules will apply.

Photo: Yuk Weeden (Public Domain / CC0 licence)

Sibelius Conference postponed (Covid-19)

The Organizing Committee of the Seventh International Jean Sibelius Conference has decided that, owing to the still prevailing Covid-19 situation and the uncertain prospects concerning the pandemic and its repercussions for travel, the Seventh International Sibelius Conference will be postponed by a further four years, until 2025.

The Conference had been scheduled for September 2021 in Sibelius’s birth town, Hämeenlinna, having already been delayed by one year by the ongoing coronavirus situation.

The place and probably also the timing (early September) of the Conference will remain unaltered. Further information about conference arrangements, its programme and associated events will be released in due course.

Historic restaurant with Sibelius connections to reopen

Restaurant Kaisaniemi, Helsinki
Photo: Jisis (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported licence) (cropped)

Helsinki’s historic Kaisaniemi restaurant, in Kaisaniemi park near the Botanical Gardens, is set to be restored and reopen under new management.

Established by Catharina (‘Cajsa’) Wahllund in 1827 on what was then a headland, the original structure has been extended and modified over the years. Among the architects was Carl Ludvig Engel, who was also responsible for Helsinki’s iconic Senate Square. The oldest part of the current restaurant structure dates from 1839, before the construction of the railway line that now runs alongside the premises; the rotunda and outdoor terrace (later glazed in) were added in 1921. The most striking feature of the current building is the large tree protruding through the dining room roof.

Restaurant Kaisaniemi showing the tree protruding through the roof
Photo: jampe (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported licence) (cropped)

The previous operators of what was then Helsinki’s oldest restaurant went into liquidation in 2019. The new owners are the Kallio family from Porvoo, who already run the establishments Helmi in Porvoo Old Town and Kapellet in Loviisa. The intention is for the wooden building to regain much of its original atmosphere. It will probably be known in future by the Swedish form of its name, Kajsaniemi. The restoration will take several years.

The restaurant has clear connections with the Sibelius family. It was here that the first performance of his Pompeuse Marche d’Asis took place, the brilliantly exuberant piece that Sibelius wrote for his brother Christian while the latter was a student at ‘Asis’ (the Institute of Anatomy at Helsinki University). Christian wrote: ‘The greatest “event” for us students of medicine was an evening that took place last Saturday at the restaurant Kajsis. The march was performed there, composed by Janne. A toast was proposed to Janne, and a lengthy telegram in French was sent to him [to Vienna] with thanks for “La pompeuse marche d’Asis”. The march is at first deeply tragic in slowly rocking rhythm; this is followed by a wilder csárdás-like thing. Screams are heard every now and then, mostly on the cello (two octaves of glissandi, or chromatic octave passages).’ (12 February 1891).

Restaurant Kaisaniemi in 1862
Photo: Flickr’s The Commons

Sources: Hufvudstadsbladet 15.3.2021; Wikipedia