The Turku Music Festival, the oldest continuously held annual music festival in Finland, is being held for the 59th time this summer, from 10 to 22 August. This is the last summer of our current artistic director, conductor Ville Matvejeff, who is leaving us to take up the post of artistic director of the Savonlinna Opera Festival. The Turku Music Festival features 30 concerts and events, with a star-studded guest list of international top names and young Finnish talent. Events will be held not only at traditional venues but also in private homes and in the Old Academy Building, 200 years old and recently reopened after an extensive renovation.
Dazzling soprano Kristine Opolais, the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra and Hannu Lintu open the festival
Once again, the Turku Music Festival brings in one of the world’s most sought-after opera singers, Latvian soprano Kristine Opolais. She appears at the opening concert of the festival with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra under conductor Hannu Lintu on Friday 10 August 2018.
“It will be a fantastic night with arias from some of my favourite opera roles, such as Puccini’s Madama Butterfly and Margherita in Boito’s Mefistofele. I have also included arias from roles that I will be performing over the next few seasons: Desdemona in Verdi’s Otello and Elisabetta in his Don Carlos, Liù in Puccini’s Turandot and Catalani’s La Wally. All these operas feature exceptional women with a wide range of emotions, and lovely music, of course. It will be a unique night,” says Opolais.
Opolais is a frequent guest for instance at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, where she appeared in the title role of Dvořák’s Rusalka last season. In the coming season, she will appear there in Puccini’s Il trittico in a cast that includes Plácido Domingo.
Two Nordic concerts for jazz lovers
Pianist Iiro Rantala brought in a full house to the Ruissalo Shipyard in summer 2017. This summer, he returns to the scene with Swedish guitarist Ulf Wakenius on Tuesday 14 August at 20.00. The concert is titled ‘Good Stuff’, which is also the title of the duo’s new album.
The Max De Aloe Baltic Trio, with Max De Aloe on chromatic harmonica and effects, Niklas Winter on guitar and Jesper Bodilsen on bass, will perform at the traditional Candlelight concert in Turku Cathedral on the Night of the Arts, Thursday 16 August at 22.00.
Gems of classical ballet at the Ballet Gala performed by members of the Finnish National Ballet
One of the summer’s most significant projects is the Ballet Gala, jointly organised by members of the Finnish National Ballet and the Regional Dance Centre of Western Finland, at the Concert Hall on Sunday 19 August at 18.00. Its first half features Secret Charm by dancer Jonna Aaltonen. The second half is dedicated to classical ballet, the performers including Alina Nanu, Stefania Cardaci, Linda Haakana, Atte Kilpinen, Michal Krčmář, Florian Modan, Ville Mäki, Johan Pakkanen, Jevgenia Pleskova, Charlotte Schauman-Mäki and Jonathan Rodrigues.
“The idea for this Gala came from the desire to plan everything together with the dancers from the ground up, giving room for their ideas. The programme now includes the world premieres of choreographies created by Emrecan Tanis, a member of the FNB who is also an internationally successful choreographer, and by star dancer Michal Krčmář. The scarlet thread of the programme was laid out by the dancers. We organised an open call for works with the Regional Dance Centre of Western Finland, and Jonna Aaltonen’s Secret Charm was selected because it fit the programme best,” explains Liisa Ketomäki, Managing Director of the Turku Music Festival Foundation.
Home concerts at Vähätori, on Vartiovuori, in Ruissalo and at the studio home of Johanna Oras
“Our home concerts have been very popular every year. People enjoy listening to music in an intimate setting and meeting the performers at close quarters. We are very happy that we have been able to add new homes to the programme again this year,” says Liisa Ketomäki, Managing Director of the Turku Music Festival Foundation.
This summer, home concerts are given at Vähätori, on Vartiovuori, in Ruissalo and at Koski.
Frugård, Ruissalo, Sunday 12 August at 13.00 and 16.00: The hosts, Katia Al-Kaisi and Petteri Terho, begin with a talk on the history of the villa, built in the mid-19th century. The musical programme includes Finnish evergreens and classic solo songs performed by vocalist Anna Inginmaa and guitarist Juha Savela (who among other things is a member of the Waltteri Torikka Trio).
Home of Irma and Benito Casagrande on Vähätori, Saturday 11 August at 17.00: Italian evergreens, specifically Neapolitan songs and tunes, performed by the Napuletanate ensemble: Flavia di Nola, mezzosoprano; Laura Havu, piano; Lauri Manninen, guitar and mandolin.
Pyhän Hengen kappeli [Chapel of the Holy Spirit] also on Vähätori, downstairs at Casagrande house, Saturday 11 August at 13.00 and 15.00: Soprano Anneliina Koskinen and contralto Anna Edgren perform love songs from the 14th century under the title Omnia Vincit Amor, the motto that is also found on the wall of Casagrande House.
Author Volter Kilpi wrote his magnum opus Alastalon salissa [In the parlour at Alastalo] mainly at his home on Vartiovuori hill. The current owners of the apartment host a concert dedicated to the author on Friday 17 August at 15.00: Violinist Laura Kokko, who has studied the correspondence between Kilpi and his wife, performs with mezzosoprano Essi Luttinen and pianist Petri Haapasalo. The same programme will also be given at Turku Art Museum on 18 August at 15.00.
By popular demand, the concerts at the studio home of artist Johanna Oras at Koski that attracted huge crowds in summer 2017 are repeated this year. There are three concerts on Sunday 19 August, at 13.00, 15.00 and 17.00: Soprano Marjukka Tepponen, baritone Kevin Greenlaw and pianist Salla Karakorpi perform. Tepponen and Greenlaw appeared in the Turku Music Festival’s production of Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro in 2013. Tepponen has enjoyed international success in recent years and was well received as Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte earlier in this season.
Roope Salminen & Kolina at the Ruissalo Shipyard on two nights
Kolina is the most award-winning and most popular improvisation company in Finland. They perform a full-length show completely based on musical improvisation at the Ruissalo Shipyard on two nights, Wednesday 15 August at 19.00 and Thursday 16 August, the Night of the Arts, at 19.00. “The audience will decide what the songs and poems in the performance will be about, who will perform them and in what style. We are ready to do any genre, from hymns to gangsta rap,” promises Roope Salminen. The performers are actor and singer Roope Salminen, actor and singer Antto Hinkkanen and musicians Mikko Gee Saarinen (percussion) and Olli Äkräs (synthesiser).
Portrait of Szymanowski by soprano Olga Heikkilä, violinist Kreeta-Juulia Heikkilä and pianist Suzana Bartal at Sigyn Hall on Monday 13 August at 18.00
The programme is a musical portrait of Polish composer Karol Szymanowski, with performances of Myths for violin and piano and Love songs of Hafiz for soprano and piano. In the second half, Bartal performs Szymanowski’s Three Mazurkas for piano and Debussy’s Préludes Book 2 to mark the centenary of Debussy’s death.
Baroque opera at the Old Academy Building, world-famous detective novelist Donna Leon meets the audience at Arken
Il Pomo d’Oro is a Baroque ensemble from Venice that has appeared regularly at such venues as the Théâtre Royal at Versailles, Wigmore Hall in London, the Theater an der Wien and the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées. Before coming to Turku, they will have appeared at the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg.
The Old Academy Building, 200 years old and recently renovated, hosts a concert of the finest opera prologues of the 17th century by Monteverdi, Scarlatti, Cassini, Cesti and others, as selected by conductor Erico Onofri and soprano Francesca Aspromonte, Wednesday 15 August at 18.00.
Venice is also the setting for the famous Brunetti novels by detective novelist Donna Leon. She is a great lover of Baroque opera and supports the Il Pomo d’Oro ensemble, sometimes touring with them. Leon is familiar with Turku, having visited the Turku Music Festival in 2013 and the Turku Book Fair. On this her third visit, Donna Leon discusses literature and writing with the audience at Arken on Tuesday 14 August at 17.00. Admission is free, and the discussion is in English.
Wellbeing from music and singalong
Actress Kati Urho, soprano Kaisa Takkula and pianist Anni Collan give a performance entitled ‘Aatos and Klaara’s singalong and opera show’ at the Cathedral Parish Assembly Hall on Friday 17 August at 18.00. In spring 2018, the performers tour service housing facilities in the Turku region, performing a programme known as ‘The Reverend’s Summer Hymn Special’. Further information from producer Liisa Mattila: .
“Why Paris when we have Turku?” French guests in Turku
The festival culminates in two concerts featuring French artists.
Patrick Poivre d’Arvor is a legendary French journalist, author and cultural personality who is known in France by his initials, PPDA. On his first visit to Finland, he and pianist Eliane Reyes give a recital titled ‘Valses poétiques’, featuring French poetry on the theme of love and waltzes by Chopin. Valses Poétiques by Patrick Poivre d’Arvor, reciter, and Eliane Reyes, piano, at Turku Castle on Monday 20 August at 19.00 and Tuesday 21 August at 19.00. Eliane Reyes is an accomplished pianist who performs both as a soloist and as a chamber musician (for instance with pianist Marta Argerich).
Music for two pianos at the concluding concert at Sigyn Hall on Wednesday 22 August at 19.00. Piano virtuosos Hélène Mercier and Louis Lortie have performed together since they were students and enjoy a seamless artistic consensus. The programme consists of French and Russian musical gems, including less-known works. Mercier was born in Montreal and has lived in Paris for years. She has performed as a soloist and a chamber musician with Kurt Masur, Vladimir Spivakov, Ivry Gitlits, Brigitte Engerer and others. Louis Lortie, also from Montreal, appears at Wigmore Hall and with orchestras in Dallas, Detroit and Shanghai in this season. Mercier and Lortie regularly perform and record together.
Hours of Bliss at the Cathedral
Hours of Bliss – recitals of about 45 min – will again be held at Turku Cathedral.
On Monday 13 August at 13.00, soprano Olga Heikkilä and cellist Tuomas Ylinen perform music by John Tavener, Eric Tanguy and George Crumb. On Tuesday 14 August at 13.00, violinist Laura Kokko performs music by Saariaho, Talvitie and von Biber and improvises.
Concert series at the Art Museum
Students from Turku Music Festival masterclasses perform at lunchtime concerts at Turku Art Museum from Tuesday 14 August to Saturday 18 August. These popular concerts will feature students from the masterclasses of pianists Antti Siirala and Niklas Pokki. A ticket to the museum includes entry to the concert.
Concerts at the Cathedral
The summer music series at the Cathedral features cellist Jukka Perksalo on Wednesday 15 August at 14.00 and organist Arttu Selonen on Wednesday 22 August at 14.00. The evening music series at the Cathedral features organist Keith John on Tuesday 14 August at 20.00 and organist Stefan Kagl on Tuesday 21 August at 20.00. Admission is free.
Tickets for all events at the Turku Music Festival go on sale nationwide on Wednesday 21 February at 13.00. Tickets to the Turku Music Festival are sold by Lippupiste.