Monthly Archives: January 2015

Sibelius Medal for Sir Simon Rattle

Sir Simon Rattle

Photo: © Monika Rittershaus / Pressestelle der Stiftung Berliner Philharmoniker / 2009070810025831. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Congratulations to Sir Simon Rattle, who has been awarded the Sibelius Medal of the Sibelius Society of Finland.

The medal was presented by the Finnish Ambassador to Germany before a concert in the Berlin Philharmonie in which Sir Simon Rattle was conducting the Berlin Philharmonic orchestra in Sibelius’s Symphonies Nos 5, 6 and 7.

Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra will visit London in February 2015 to perform all seven Sibelius symphonies.

An extended interview featuring Sir Simon Rattle in conversation with the Finnish author and journalist Vesa Sirén can be viewed at the Helsingin Sanomat website: click here.



Bristol Sibelius Cycle Continues


Saturday 24th January 2015 at 7.30 pm
St George’s Bristol

Symphony No. 3 in C major, Op. 52
Violin Concerto in D minor, Op. 47
Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 43

Bristol Classical Players
Tom Gauterin conductor
Jennifer Pike violin

The Bristol Classical Players’ Sibelius cycle at St George’s Bristol continues with the Third and Second Symphonies and Violin Concerto. For this concert the orchestra is joined by Jennifer Pike, former BBC Young Musician of the Year, whose recording of the concerto has met with huge acclaim.

Tickets and more information: click here.

The Sibelius Cycle continues on 15th March 2015…
Symphonies Nos 4 & 5
Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 1 (Stephen Hough) – 15 Mar 2015

Member Discount: Backman Trio ‘Fantasia’ CD

Fantasia_Back&FRONT_cover-wwwThe Backman Trio’s Fantasia CD is available at a special price to members of Sibelius One  until the end of 2015. Member price is £12.50 including postage and packaging.

Click here to take advantage of this offer.

The Backman Trio is a piano trio that was formed in 2009 and has performed extensively in Finland and the UK, including appearances at the Sibelius Museum in Turku and the Camerata Hall in Helsinki’s world renowned new Music Centre. The ensemble’s début CD Fantasia is the culmination of its work to promote Finnish and British music over the past four years.


Praise for the Backman Trio:
‘Their playing is full of joy and they are making music with ease.’ – Wilhelm Kvist, HBL, Helsinki
The Backman Trio continuously conjured up new tonal nuances, harmonies of colour, characters of motif and rhythm…’ – Hannu-Ilari Lampila, Helsingin Sanomat

The Trio’s violinist Frida Backman, with the pianist Lynda Smith, is celebrating the 150th anniversary of Sibelius’s birth at a lunchtime violin and piano recital including Sibelius’s Rondino, Danse caractéristique, Tanz-Idylle and Humoresques Nos 2 & 4, plus music by Copland, at 12.45 pm on 30th January 2015 at Sarum College (Butterfield Chapel ), Salisbury. Booking enquiries: contact Alison Ogden

On 5th May 2015 the Backman Trio is giving a lunchtime concert (1.05 pm) at the Fairfield Halls, Croydon, including Sibelius’s  ‘Korpo’ Trio and Debussy’s Trio in G minor. Tickets £5 (ShowCard £4.50)

A Return to Sibelius’s Honeymoon Landscapes


Jean and Aino Sibelius spent their honeymoon in 1892 at Monola, near Lieksa in North Karelia. Most of the works heard on this new disc (published in January 2015) were composed around the time of their honeymoon and bear the imprint of the landscapes of Lake Pielinen and North Karelia.

The recording includes new arrangements of works including Finlandia and the Karelia Suite.

Part of the income from the recording will help to finance the renovation of the building in which Sibelius stayed at Monola, via the Lieksa-Pielisjärvi Society.

A launch concert for the recording will take place at the Järvenpää Hall at 4 pm on Sunday 18th January 2015.

Programme and performers:

1. Valse triste, Op. 44 No. 1
2. Souvenir, Op. 99 No. 3
3. Granen (The Spruce), Op. 75 No. 5
4. Impromptu, Op. 5 No. 5
5. Drömmen (The Dream), Op. 13 No. 5
6. Kullervon valitus (Kullervo’s Lament) from Op. 7
7. Kyssens hopp (The Kiss’s Hope), Op. 13 No. 2
8. Till Frigga (To Frigga), Op. 13 No. 6
9. Under strandens granar (Under the Fir-Trees), Op. 13 No. 1
10–12. Karelia Suite, Op. 11
13. Finlandia, Op. 26

Jussi Makkonen, cello [1–5, 10–13]
Nazig Azezian, piano [1–13]
Annastiina Tahkola, mezzo-soprano [7–9]
Esa Ruuttunen, baritone [6]
Susanna Mieskonen-Makkonen, violin [10–12]

Arrangements: Matti Makkonen

Music video: Sibelius: Impromptu, Op. 5 No. 5

Catalogue number: Charmi-01
To order the disc, click here.

Sibelius and Nielsen at the Purcell Room

Fenella Humphreys (Photo: @ Ian Stark)
Fenella Humphreys (Photo: @ Ian Stark)

As a celebration of the 150th anniversaries of Sibelius’s and Nielsen’s birth, the duo Fenella Humphreys (violin) and Nicola Eimer (piano) will be performing at the Purcell Room, QEH, Southbank Centre in London on Wednesday 4th February at 7.45 pm.

In addition to playing works by Sibelius and Nielsen, the duo has commissioned a new short set of British pieces, inspired by and taking the movement titles of Sibelius’s Five Pieces, Op. 81. The composers for these pieces are Cheryl Frances-Hoad, David Knotts, Matthew Taylor, Alasdair Nicolson and Anthony Powers.

Wednesday 4th February 2015, 7.45 pm
Purcell Room at QEH, Southbank Centre

Sibelius: Five Pieces, Op. 81
Nielsen: Sonata No. 2, Op. 35
Sibelius: Sonatina, Op. 80
Five Pieces – by Cheryl Frances-Hoad, Alasdair Nicolson, Matthew Taylor, David Knotts and Anthony Powers (world première)
Sibelius: Four Pieces, Op. 115

Fenella Humphreys, violin · Nicola Eimer, piano

To book tickets click here.

A recording by Fenella Humphreys and Nicola Eimer of Sibelius’s Sonatina is in preparation, for release later in 2015.

Fenella Humphreys will also be performing Sibelius’s Violin Concerto at concerts in Chatham (28th February), Colchester (21st March) and London (28th & 29th March)

Aeon Duo – A Window to the Finnish Mind – Photography Competition: ‘The Essence of Finland’



As previously noted on this site, the Aeon Duo (Essi Kiiski, violin and Eduardo Andrade) will give a concert focusing on Sibelius’s music for violin for piano, plus the world première of a work inspired by Sibelius composed by Eduardo Andrade, at the Finnish Church in London on Thursday 26th March 2015 at 7 pm. The concert will be part of the official Sibelius 150 schedule of events and will be an exciting and innovative combination of music, photography and taste sensations.

Sibelius One members receive concessionary prices for tickets to this concert. To obtain the promotional code, click here.

The pieces in the concert are going to be performed alongside the seven winning pictures in the Photography Competition ‘The Essence of Finland’. These can be photographs of anything related to Finland, e.g. the nature, landscape, buildings, people or pictures that somehow seem to capture the feeling of Finnish culture. Photos must be submitted under the title ‘The Essence of Finland’. The seven photographs will be selected by Aeon Duo and will be posted to Facebook for public voting. The three most liked pictures will receive a composition written specifically to the picture by composer Eduardo Andrade, who has twice composed for pictures exhibited in the National Portrait Gallery of London. The pieces will be recorded by Aeon Duo and sent to the winners privately in digital format.

Contest procedures:

The contest starts on 9th January 2015 at 5:00pm and will close on the 9th February 2015 at 5:00 pm.
Seven pictures will be selected considering two aspects:
– Quality of photography
Relation to the title ‘The Essence of Finland’

How to submit a photo:
Pictures can be submitted to The email should contain the following information:

One single photograph to be considered to the competition (.jpeg format, preferably in high resolution)
Short paragraph explaining the relation of the picture to the title
Contact information: name, country/city and email address

By submitting you grant Aeon Duo the rights to project the picture during the concert and to post it on Aeon Duo’s Facebook Page for voting purposes.

The seven selected photographs will be projected during the concert to a specific piece of the programme. The winners will get a single free ticket for the performance, and all the winners will receive credits in the printed concert programme and be mentioned on the Facebook Page and Essi Kiiski’s website.

Time flows in Kuhmo


The theme for the 2015 Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival is time. The total of more than 70 concerts will address the turning points in centuries, the seasons, the eternal circle of transfer and many other time-related subjects. In keeping with the Kuhmo tradition, each day will include both chamber music classics and exciting discoveries.

The festival begins on Sunday 12th July 2015 with a Bach motet and ends on Saturday 25th July  with Piazzolla’s Four Seasons. In between, there will be music from the 17th to the 21st century, with five to six concerts each day.

The performers are celebrated musicians and ensembles from Finland and all over the world. The Kuhmo Chamber Music concerts will be held at the modern Kuhmo Arts Centre hall with its excellent acoustics, the traditional Kontio School, Kuhmo’s imposing Church, the intimate Burial Chapel and the Petola Visitor Centre. There will also be concerts at Vuokatti and in Iisalmi.

Works by Jean Sibelius to be performed at the Kuhmo Festival during his 150th anniversary year are:
Valse triste, Op. 44 No. 1 (in the composer’s own piano arrangement)
Five Pieces, Op. 75, ‘The Trees’ for piano
Piano Trio in C major, ‘Lovisa’, JS 208
Pelléas et Mélisande, Suite, Op. 46
String Quartet in D minor, Op. 56, ‘Voces intimae’
Kom nu hit, död! (Come Away, Death!), Op. 60/1 (arranged for voice, harp and strings by the composer)
Valse chevaleresque, Op. 96c (piano version)
Evige Eros, Op. 84 No. 4, for male  choir a cappella (performed by vocal quintet)

More information at the Festival’s website.

Source: Kuhmo Festival Press Release, 9th January 2015

Jean Sibelius collector coin

In honour of the 150th anniversary of the birth of the composer Jean Sibelius:


The collector coin’s launch date is 30th January 2015.

Mint of Finland will mint a silver Sibelius collector coin with a nominal value of EUR 10 and a gold coin with a nominal value of EUR 100.

The collector coin’s obverse depicts the starry sky of Ainola and a copse of pine trees, among which Sibelius was often seen lost in thought. The reverse bears the neck of a violin, the composer’s favoured instrument.

Launch date: 30th January 2015

The collector coins are available to order in advance from the Mint of Finland online shop,, or by phone: +358 9 8943 4343.

Nominal value: €10
Metal: Ag 500
Mintage: 10,000
Designer: Nora Tapper


Source: Mint of Finland / Auli Mikkonen

‘A total goose-pimple extravaganza’

Osmo Väkskä and John Davis in Lahti, 2005
Osmo Vänskä and John Davis in Lahti, 2005

At the end of 2014 I was approached by the management of BBC Radio 3 to kick off their forthcoming contributions to the 150th anniversary of Jean Sibelius. On Thursday 1st January, at around 8.10 am, I was interviewed by Clemency Burton-Hill and asked to introduce my personal pièce de resistance, the Nocturne from the King Christian II Suite, and to explain my adoration of this magnificent work. I said that it contained a big memorable tune, that the orchestration was outstanding, i.e. cantabile strings, woodwind in pairs (cf. for instance the start of the second movement of the Violin Concerto) and brass-orientated climaxes; in other words for me it’s ‘a total goose-pimple extravaganza’ (Clemency loved that expression). I particularly wanted them to use the recording by the Lahti Symphony Orchestra and Osmo Vänskä, as I had experienced them performing it ‘live’ at the 2003 Lahti Sibelius Festival. On top of that, I’d spoken at length to Osmo Vänskä about the merits of this glorious work overall the next day.

This can be found on the BBC Radio 3 website until 28th January 2015 – follow this link, and it starts around 01:40:40.

I wish all readers a wonderful 2015 and cannot wait to meet up with many of you for the ‘big one’ this year in Lahti.

John J. Davis
President, Sibelius One

Kullervo in Tokyo


The Sibelius Society of Japan is arranging a performance of Kullervo  on 3rd March 2015 at the Sumida Triphony Hall, Tokyo.

Soloists Yukari Komagamine (mezzo-soprano) and Toshiyuki Sueyoshi (baritone) will join the Laulu-Miehet choir from Finland (chorus-master: Matti Hyökki) and Oedo Korarias; the orchestra is Sinfonia Ainola and the conductor is Yuri Nitta.

Yuri Nitta is President of the Sibelius Society of Japan, and both vocal soloists are members of the society. An earlier Tokyo performance of Kullervo was given by Sinfonia Ainola in 2007, the 50th anniversary year of Sibelius’s death.

The Laulu-Miehet choir celebrated its centenary in 2014.

Further information (in Japanese) here.