OULU. With spring approaching the Oulu Music Festival has kicked-off again, giving music lovers of every taste the chance to enjoy a host of qualified masters of the trade in vibrant surroundings in northern Finland. The festival is scheduled to last until March 29th and includes premiere performances, major productions, chamber concerts and club events, together with master classes in classical and rhythm music.
So whether you´re into opera or classical, jazz, folk, pop or dancing you´re probably going to enjoy yourself. There´s even a Karaoke-bar inclusion for those who crave their own fifteen-minutes of fame! On the more serious note there´ll be a concert for all victims of war and also one to celebrate Finland´s 100 years as an independent nation – as well as a gala concert finale.
Although a warmer season beckons this is a wintertime city festival according to the organizers. Artistic director Jaakko Kuusisto (a well-known violinist, conductor and composer) has prepared the programme that welcomes a wide range of international and, of course, Finnish artists to the Oulu region.
Among the first performers were Apocalyptica, a Finnish cello band with a worldwide acclaim since their debut album ”Plays Metallica by Four Cellos” was released two decades ago. The band invented a new genre, blending a classical music instrument with rock and metal. The tickets at Madetoja Hall were quickly sold out.
A symphonic movie concert was performed at the same venue by Oulu Sinfonia with Jaakko Kuusisto. The Song of the Fiery Red Flower (Sången om den eldröda blomman, 1919) is a black-and-white silent film directed by Mauritz Stiller, music by Armas Järnefelt. The screen adaptation from author Johannes Linnankoski’s book (1905) about a young man´s struggles is the first ever.
One of Finland’s most renowned contemporary composers, Kaija Saariaho, uses electronically produced or edited sounds through traditional instruments. In the set at the Valve Hall soprano Pia Freund, dancer and choreographer Minna Tervamäki plus violinist Jaakko Kuusisto (again) is to perform music composed by Saariaho and Gustav Holst.
Prose, guitar and saxophone form an tingling combo as actor Hannu-Pekka Björkman expounds writer Antti Hyry´s inner world peppered by the music of Jukka Perko.
Romanian jazz-singer Elena Mindru mixes folk songs and modern big band tunes; while accordion virtuoso Johanna Juhola – with imaginary friends as video projections – display a ”tango fantasy” for the audience.
Brasilian brothers Luis and Pedro Sartori do Vale are triggered by their own life experiences and classic tales as their artwork mixes theatre, archery and circus.
Cellist Svante Henryson grew up in Umeå, Sweden, where he started playing base in a rockband at the age of twelve. He got his music education in Prague and performs in Oulu with his wife singer Katarina Henryson from Stockholm. The duo are well-known for working with the Real Group.
Kake – Tiellä tähtiin (”On the Road to Stardom”) is in search of the Finnish mental landscape thru´ an energetic but moving parody full of dance theatre and music that involves Tsuumi Dance Theater´s actors and stage director Matti Paloniemi´s handiwork.
Cover: Violin virtuoso Mihaela Martin plays at the Oulu Music Festival