Both Sides Now

TORNE VALLEY. After two years of planning, it´s kick off time for the Väyläfestivaali – a nine-day cultural adventure on eight places along the shores of the Tornio and Muonio Rivers.

The waterways constitute the national border between the northern parts of Sweden and Finland. Not that they care very much about borders here. After all, the border was drawn here as late as 1809, when Sweden lost Finland to Russia.

The river festival is curated by well-known pianist Paavali Jumppanen and aims at crossing not only the national border, but also borders between different art genres and expressions. It starts on June 16th in Övertorneå municipality, Sweden, and the finale takes place at Enontekiö, Finland and Karesuando, Sweden, on the Midsummer weekend. By then, the festival has moved some 300 kilometers upstream, leaving lots of interesting experiences in its wake. Music of many kinds, performance, dance, photography art and lectures are filling the schedule. Sounds like a movable feast and poetry in motion at the same time. Promising!

Katariina Angeria. Photo by Sonja Siltala

The Torne Valley´s own reggae band Meänland will open the festival with with an overture at Hietaniemi Church. It is  followed by the Suoni Dance Performance-Work, created by Katariina Angeria, and staged near the graveyard of the church. The Suoni (vein in English) is something like the festival´s backbone, being shown on different locations during a whole week.

Lovers of classical music have a great opportunity to experience The Arctic Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra from Tromsø, Norway, featuring world-renowned violinist Henning Kraggerud. The orchestra has performances pencilled in on both sides of the border at Övertorneå and Ylitornio.

Moving northwards to Pajala, Sweden and Kolari, Finland and some more classical music. To mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, music by J S Bach is included in the programme on either side of the Torne River. Pianist Risto Lauriala gives a concert in Pajala, while Jaako Kuusisto ( violin), will perform in Kolari. The latter occasion also marking Kolari´s 150th anniversary.

At Aareavaara Bygdegård (Pajala),  professor Juha Pentikäinen will  give a lecture on Lars Levi Laestadius, the  most remarkable religious character of the Torne River Valley. Pentikäinen is himself famous for his studies of northern shamanism. Photographer Jaako Alatalo will also be present to speak about the exhibition Meän väylä (”Our river”).

Come Midsummer Eve and the festival will have reached the Enontekiö Church in the settlement of Hetta. Here pianist and festival general  Paavali Jumppanen and the Sami yoik-artist artist Simon Issát Marainen have promised to deliver their personal interpretations of Beethoven´s late sonatas.
On Midsummer Day , The Suoni Perfomance (Katariina Angeria) will appear on the Karesuando bridge to meet with a surprise performer for the festival´s finale.

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