The Sibelius Medal of the Sibelius Society of Finland has been awarded to Pekka Helasvuo.
The medal was presented by Lauri Tarasti, outgoing president of the Sibelius Society of Finland, at a reception in Hämeenlinna Town Hall on Saturday 5th December 2015 as part of the Sixth International Jean Sibelius Conference.
Pekka Helasvuo, Licentiate of Music, has worked as a violinist in the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, conductor and principal lecturer of orchestral and chamber music studies at the Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences. His subject of licentiate work was the Orchestration of the Songs by Jean Sibelius (Sibelius-Academy, Helsinki 2007). Helasvuo is currently working as an editor of the string orchestra works (Series III) for the critical edition of Jean Sibelius works (JSW).
This was the last presentation of the Sibelius Medal in its current form. A new design of medal will be used from 2016 onwards.
The Sibelius Society of Finland has awarded the prestigious Sibelius Medal to the Estonian Paavo Järvi, musical director and chief conductor of the Orchestre de Paris.
The Sibelius Medal was presented to Paavo Järvi in Paris by the Finnish Ambassador to France, Mr Risto Piipponen, at the opening concert of the new season of the Orchestre de Paris on 9th September, on which occasion the orchestra and Paavo Järvi performed Sibelius’s Symphony No. 5.
The Sibelius Society of Finland commented: ‘Paavo Järvi has promoted the music of Sibelius with great talent in concerts which he has conducted throughout the world and particularly in France. With his passion and drive he is making history by recording the complete Sibelius symphony cycle with the Orchestre de Paris – a project so far never undertaken by any other French orchestra. His existing discography includes important Sibelius recordings which have gained international critical acclaim.’
This is the second time the Sibelius Medal is awarded to a conductor during the Sibelius 150th anniversary year. Sir Simon Rattle, chief conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, received the medal in May in Berlin.
The medal was designed by Eila Hiltunen (1922–2003), who was also responsible for creating the Sibelius Monument in Helsinki.
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.
At Villa Gyllenberg in Helsinki – one of Finland’s foremost private museums – on 15th December 2014 the pianist Folke Gräsbeck was awarded the Sibelius Medal of the Sibelius Society of Finland, presented by Lauri Tarasti, president of the society since 2009. This medal has been awarded since 1965 and was designed by Eila Hiltunen, who also created the Sibelius monument. The medal is awarded both to individuals and organizations for their outstanding achievements as performers or supporters of Sibelius’s music, as well as to researchers. Previous recipients have included Urho Kekkonen (President of Finland), Aino Sibelius, Herbert von Karajan and many of Finland’s foremost conductors. In 2010 the medal was awarded to Sibelius One’s Andrew Barnett.
Folke Gräsbeck is the foremost exponent of Sibelius’s music for and including the piano. The American magazine Fanfare wrote of his recordings: ‘Gräsbeck makes a most persuasive case for just about all of this music, and Sibelius’s output for solo piano will likely never again be recorded as comprehensively or as well.’
The medal was presented at an event to mark the launch of the new critical edition of Sibelius’s Violin Concerto in Breitkopf & Härtel’s JSW series. The new volume (SON 622) is edited by Timo Virtanen, editor-in-chief of JSW, includes not only the familiar 1905 version of the concerto but also the original 1903/04 version, with detailed comments both in the preface and the critical report. The launch event included a performance of the revised version of the concerto in Sibelius’s own arrangement for violin and piano, performed by Petteri Iivonen – second prize winner in the 2010 International Jean Sibelius Violin Competition and Folke Gräsbeck. After receiving the medal Folke Gräsbeck played a piano solo rarity, the Largo in A major, JS 117 (1888).