Independent Finland is 100 years old and has a classical music scene that is diverse, pluralist and multicultural. A century ago, the situation was very different: just as the nation was heavily polarised after the bitter Civil War, musical life was similarly divided.
Väinö Raitio was a Modernist Finnish composer whose works were received with considerable reservations in his lifetime. Today, Raitio’s music is interesting both because of the period in which it was written and because of its artistic quality. Pluralism has rehabilitated Raitio, and music historians no longer need to adhere to the dramatic martyrdom conventionally...
"I was particularly impressed with the way they manage to blend different styles into an amalgam that is distinctly their own. The music is obviously rooted in Nordic and Celtic traditions, but Frigg has also been strongly influenced by American Newgrass."
"The Kalevala myth was a genuine source of inspiration for the fledgling Finnish nation in search of an identity. But has it been such a thing any more, really, since the Second World War?," asks Kimmo Hakola in his Kalevala day column.
"On the whole Musica nova Helsinki was remarkably successful. The festival now boasts many features that have been germinating for quite some time: club nights, a true cosmopolitan attitude and the successful integration of young Finnish composers into an international programme," writes Merja Hottinen in her review of the festival.
Seamlessly, keyboardist and composer Kari Ikonen spins a distinctive sound of his own that draws on music from around the world, grounded in US jazz and fusion of the ‘60s and ‘70s. On Moog synthesizer, acoustic or electric piano, he plays with ecstasy and a fascination with rhythm.
The theory is that goal-oriented art education in Finland is provided for all residents nationwide, at school and through government-subsidised institutions. But in the Sámi homeland in the far north of Finland this is not always the case. In the field of music, this failing is being addressed through the Sámi music adult education project....
Ulla Pirttijärvi’s second album with the Ulda trio is a well-balanced whole. She stays surprisingly close to the luohti or yoik tradition, combining lyrics and wordless sequences in a very traditional way.
A few years ago two new events, the RUSK festival in Pietarsaari, founded by composer Sebastian Fagerlund and clarinettist Christoffer Sundqvist, and Pasimusic, composer Pasi Lyytikäinen’s own festival in northern Savo, appeared on the autumn festival map of Finland, brightening up the darkening months with their innovative offerings.
Is it OK for a Finn of the majority population to put on a fake Sámi costume bought in a joke shop and perform a Sámi yoik? Or to put on a feather headdress and dance a Native American dance? Where do we draw the line between cultural interaction and cultural appropriation?
Finland’s largest contemporary music event, Musica nova Helsinki, isn’t the product of one man’s vision, or even one organisation’s. It is an ecosystem that draws and depends upon most of Helsinki’s major musical institutions, which might explain why the German conductor André de Ridder was an astute choice to be the festival’s new artistic director....
It is always a remarkable experience to have the opportunity to actually listen to the achievements of a musician from the past instead of relying exclusively on verbal descriptions. Such a moment has now come in the case of Armas Järnefelt, a celebrated Finnish conductor of the early 20th century.