In addition to international stars, the festival offers a series of chamber music recitals themed around cities, interesting talks and discussions, and a wider range of events than ever before.
TURKU MUSIC FESTIVAL 6–16 August 2020
This summer, the Turku Music Festival will be held from 6 to 16 August. This will be the 61st annual edition of the oldest consecutively running music festival in Finland, and the second with conductor Klaus Mäkelä as the artistic director. The festival programme includes more than 40 concerts and other events.
As always, the guest artist roster includes international stars such as soprano Nadine Sierra and pianist Elisabeth Leonskaja, and distinguished orchestras and ensembles such as the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra with top-notch baritone Peter Mattei and the Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra with violinist Ilya Gringolts. The festival’s composer-in-residence in 2020 is Pēteris Vasks. An interesting series of talks and discussions features Seppo Kimanen, Laura Kolbe, Klaus Mäkelä, Helena Petäistö and Pēteris Vasks. American baritone Thomas Hampson, who appeared at the festival’s opening concert last year, returns with a recital of American music. Literature and drama are brought together in concerts featuring actresses Alina Tomnikov and Seela Sella. Opera stars – bass Matti Salminen, mezzosoprano Lilli Paasikivi and soprano Mari Palo – perform popular songs at the Ruissalo shipyard, which is also the venue for concerts by popular singer Olavi Uusivirta on two consecutive nights. On the Night of the Arts, Kasmir performs at the Domino Hall, and Ilkka ‘Ile’ Vainio launches his 60th-birthday tour at Teatro Hall at Logomo. The festival concludes on 16 August with a concert whose first half features Schumann’s Dichterliebe performed by tenor Tuomas Katajala and pianist Naoko Sonoda and whose second half comprises the cult work Eight Songs for a Mad King by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, the role of the king being performed by baritone Thomas Florio.
As previously announced, the festival has a preview concert on 28 July featuring tenor Juan Diego Flórez and pianist Vincenzo Scalera, and festival concerts after the festival week itself are given by countertenor Franco Fagioli and the Basel Chamber Orchestra (4 October) and American mezzosoprano Joyce DiDonato and the Baroque ensemble Il Pomo d’Oro (7 December).
Pianist Elisabeth Leonskaja opens the Turku Music Festival on 6 August 2020
Legendary keyboard artist Elisabeth Leonskaja performs at the opening concert of the Turku Music Festival at Turku Concert Hall on 6 August at 19.00, performing Ludwig van Beethoven’s last three piano sonatas in celebration of the 250th anniversary of the composer’s birth.
Chamber music recital series themed around musical cities takes us to St Petersburg, Vienna, Paris and Leipzig, accompanied by talks by Seppo Kimanen, Laura Kolbe and Helena Petäistö
The St Petersburg themed concert is at Sigyn Hall on Friday 7 August, with music by Dmitri Shostakovich, Modest Mussorgsky, Galina Ustvoltskaya and Petr Tchaikovsky performed by bass Markus Suihkonen, violinist Nikita Boriso-Glebsky, cellists Klaus Mäkelä and Torleif Thedéen and pianists Martin James Bartlett and Juho Pohjonen.
Two concerts are dedicated to Paris. The Paris I concert is at Sigyn Hall on 9 August, with music by Ravel, Debussy, Couperin and César Franck performed by pianist Nino Gvetadze, violinists Andrej Power and Elise Båtnes, violist Catherine Bullock, cellist Torleif Thédeen and harpist Päivi Severeide. The Paris II concert is at Turku Castle on 10 August, with music by Satie, Debussy and Ravel performed by Torleif Thedéen, pianist Antti Siirala and the Vertavo String Quartet from Norway.
The Leipzig concert is at Betel Church on 13 August, with music by J.S. Bach, Robert and Clara Schumann and Felix Mendelssohn performed by violinists Elise Båtnes and Essi Höglund, violist Catherine Bullock, cellist Louisa Tuck, pianist Antti Siirala and the Gringolts Quartet.
Two concerts are dedicated to Vienna, often referred to as a Mecca for music. The Vienna I concert at Betel Church combines Haydn’s ‘Sunrise’ String Quartet (Gringolts Quartet) with Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight’ Sonata (Naoko Sonoda). The Vienna II concert at Turku Castle has a diverse programme including Schubert’s classic solo songs An die Musik, Die Forelle and Erlkönig, performed by tenor Tuomas Katajala, violinist Essi Höglund, violist Catherine Bullock, cellist Senja Rummukainen and pianists Nino Gvetadze and Naoko Sonoda.
Legendary actress Seela Sella, soprano Pia Freund and pianist Kristian Attila at Sigyn Hall on two evenings
Seela Sella reads from the letters of well-known artist couples in two performances of a production combining poetry and music on 10 and 12 August. Focusing on the intimate relationships of artists (composers Sibelius and Kuula), the production explores what it means to be alone and together, to flourish, to grow, to give up, to be immersed in creation and chaos. Traditional and more recent gems of Finnish vocal music enter into dialogue with letters written by Aino Sibelius and Alma Kuula and poetry by Katri Vala, L. Onerva and Aila Meriluoto. The music is by Sibelius, Kuula, Madetoja, Kilpinen, Attila and Ilkka Kuusisto.
Alina Tomnikov reads Tolstoy at Turku Castle on 15 August
Young actress Alina Tomnikov reads extracts from Leo Tolstoy’s novella The Kreutzer Sonata in Finnish and Russian at Turku Castle in the Kreutzer concert, based on “Beethoven’s iconic Kreutzer Sonata, which inspired Janáček to write a String Quartet and Tolstoy to write a story. These are linked in the concert by extracts from the story read by Alina Tomnikov,” according to artistic director Klaus Mäkelä. Tomnikov is joined on stage by violinist Essi Höglund, pianist Naoko Sonoda and the Vertavo String Quartet.
Pēteris Vasks is composer-in-residence at the Turku Music Festival in 2020
Vasks will be at the festival himself, and his works will be performed at several concerts. A Vasks Gala is held at Turku Concert Hall on Saturday 8 August. The Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra performs Vasks’s Violin Concerto ‘Distant Light’ with Ilya Gringolts under Klaus Mäkelä, and the programme also includes Musica Dolorosa and Three Latvian Folk Songs. The other performers are soprano Aurora Marthens, cellist Louisa Tuck, flautist Kerttu Aalto-Setälä and pianist Juho Pohjonen.
“I can still remember when I heard Pēteris’s music for the first time. His Violin Concerto ‘Distant Light’ opened up a window to a new world for me, and I have been a fan of his wonderful music ever since. I am really proud to welcome him as a guest to the Turku Music Festival,” says artistic director Klaus Mäkelä, who conducts the Vasks Gala and also holds a public discussion with Vasks before the concert.
Matti Salminen, Lilli Paasikivi and Mari Palo at the Ruissalo Shipyard
Opera royalty explore nostalgia in songs and schlagers of summer at the Ruissalo shipyard. Bass Matti Salminen, mezzosoprano Lilli Paasikivi and soprano Mari Palo are joined on stage by violinist Petteri Iivonen, pianist Jukka Nykänen and double bass player Eero Ignatius on two evenings, 10 and 11 August.
American star baritone Thomas Hampson returns to Turku
American baritone Thomas Hampson returns to Turku to give a recital at Turku Concert Hall on Saturday 15 August at 19.00. Titled ‘Songs of America’, it comprises American repertoire that Hampson wishes to promote. He is accompanied by pianist Vlad Iftinca. The programme is a brilliant musical panorama of American melodies, including music by Cole Porter and Leonard Bernstein.
American soprano Nadine Sierra, who had to cancel her appearance in Turku last year, joins Thomas Hampson on stage in this recital at his request.
Details were previously published concerning the concert given by Nadine Sierra with the Turku Philharmonic under Lorenzo Passerini at Turku Concert Hall on 13 August at 18.00.
“Last summer, Nadine Sierra was unfortunately obliged to cancel her performance, but she is now making two appearances: with the Turku Philharmonic on 13 August and as a guest at Hampson’s recital at his request on 15 August. This is ample compensation for the delay,” says Liisa Ketomäki, managing director of the Turku Music Festival Foundation.
Chamber music at Kakola
On Friday 14 August, the Vertavo String Quartet from Norway performs at Kakola Hall, the entrance to which is only a few steps from the funicular. The programme includes music by Jaakko Kuusisto, Fanny Mendelssohn, Caroline Shaw and Antonín Dvorák. The Quartet members are violinists Øyvor Volle and Annabelle Merare, violist Berit Cardas and cellist Bjørg Lewis.
Home concerts at the home of Aino and Jarkko Ruohola and at the Archbishop’s residence
The home concert at the home of Aino and Jarkko Ruohola on 8 August features violinist Elise Båtnes and cellists Louisa Tuck and Klaus Mäkelä. The concert at the Archbishop’s residence on 15 August is jointly organised with the Turku Book Fair and includes poetry by Johanna Venho and music performed by violinist Essi Höglund and cellist Senja Rummukainen.
Olavi Uusivirta, Kasmir and Ile Vainio appear at the Turku Music Festival for the first time
Emma Award winning popular singer Olavi Uusivirta appears at the Ruissalo Shipyard on two consecutive evenings, 12 and 13 August. Kasmir, who has just released a new album, performs with pianist Lasse Piirainen at Domino on the Night of the Arts, 13 August. Ilkka ‘Ile’ Vainio, who celebrates his 60th birthday in 2020, begins his 60th-birthday tour at the festival with a concert titled ‘The people’s songs’ at Teatro Hall at Logomo on 12 August.
“The Turku Music Festival is an event intended for everyone in Turku, so we aim to create a programme as diverse as possible, albeit with the main focus still on classical music,” says Liisa Ketomäki, managing director of the Turku Music Festival Foundation.
The full programme of the Turku Music Festival, including the above concerts and much more, can be found on the festival website, www.tmj.fi
Turku Music Festival masterclasses
Piano masterclasses given by Niklas Pokki and Antti Siirala continue on 14–18 August 2020.
The Turku Music Festival has previously published details of certain concerts outside the festival week in August.
Juan Diego Florez & Vincenzo Scalera 28 July
Distinguished tenor Juan Diego Flórez visits Turku at long last, accompanied by pianist Vincenzo Scarela. Flórez is one of the world’s most sought-after opera singers, described among other things as the Roger Federer of opera.
Nadine Sierra & Turku Philharmonic Orchestra 13 August
Nadine Sierra performs on 13 August 2020 at 18:00 with the Turku Philharmonic conducted by Lorenzo Passerini. The entire concert program has now been published on the festival website.
Peter Mattei & Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra 14 August
The Turku Music Festival proudly presents the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, appearing at the festival on 14 August 2020 at 19.00. Conducted by the festival’s artistic director Klaus Mäkelä, the concert features Swedish baritone Peter Mattei as soloist. The programme comprises Ravel’s Le tombeau de Couperin, Mozart arias for baritone and Sibelius’s Symphonies nos. 6 and 7.
Franco Fagioli & Basel Chamber Orchestra 4 October
Countertenor Franco Fagioli, who previously charmed Turku audiences at the performance of the opera Agrippina, visits Turku with the Basel Chamber Orchestra performing a Mozart programme, details of which are available on the festival website. The concert coincides with the Turku Book Fair, where the cross-discipline theme for 2020 is music.
Joyce DiDonato & Il Pomo d’Oro 7 December
Baroque music lovers are in for a treat at Turku Concert Hall on Monday 7 December at 19.00 when American mezzo Joyce DiDonato and the Baroque ensemble Il Pomo d’Oro give a concert titled ‘Joyce DiDonato: My Favourite Things’. The programme includes the singer’s favourite arias by composers such as Monteverdi, Handel and Gluck. Full details of the programme are available on the festival website.
Tickets to all concerts of the Turku Music Festival will go on sale at all Lippupiste points of sale on 10 March.
The artistic director of the festival is conductor Klaus Mäkelä, who will also be planning the programme for 2021.
Further information and requests for interviews
Tickets to the Turku Music Festival are sold by Lippupiste at all Lippupiste points of sale and R kiosks throughout Finland, and online at www.lippu.fi.
For ticket reservations or bookings or information on purchases, please phone +358 600 900 900. The cost of a call is EUR 1.98 per minute + local call charge. (The lines are open Mon to Sat 09.00–21.00, Sun 10.00–18.00.)
Tickets may also be bought at the Turku Philharmonic Orchestra box office at the Turku Concert Hall (Aninkaistenkatu 9), Thu and Fri 12.00–16.00, tel. +358 2 262 0333, e-mail . Reservations are also taken at the Turku Music Festival office, tel. +358 40 632 3397, e-mail .
Turku Music Festival 2020 artists and guests:
Martin James Bartlett
Juan Diego Flórez
Ilkka ”Ile” Vainio
Pēteris Vasks (residence composer)
Gringolts String Quartet
Vertavo String Quartet
The Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra
Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra
Turku Philharmonic Orchestra