Once again this year the Kuhmo Chamber Music will take the music lover through a range of genres and styles. From Bach to Piazzolla, from the 17th century to the present day, and from the strict discipline of fugue to free improvisation. The main emphasis will of course be on the big classics of chamber music, but every day will be a journey to the unexpected. The Festival gets going on Sunday 9 July with a concert of music that was written at different periods in New York and ends on Saturday 22 July two weeks and 70 concerts later with a new interpretation of Handel’s oratorio Messiah.
The Festival’s buzzword this year is ’zap’, a term which in French refers to the habit of rapidly switching channels using a remote. But each day and every concert will also have its own theme, one able to cater for the diverse selection of music on offer. Artistic Director Vladimir Mendelssohn refers to a well-known image of the Earth taken by the space probe Voyager, just a pale blue dot in the vastness of space. “That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know. Our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, every hero and coward, genius or beggar, every creator and destroyer of civilisation, every graffiti artist and painter, the noisemakers and the composers have lived there. All those on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam…”
Magi and prophets
On Monday 10 July we are with the Magi, with the colourful strains of Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks and Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. There are also major classics of chamber music to be heard, including one of Brahms’s piano quartets and string quartets by Beethoven. On Tuesday we experience the course of one day, starting with the Sunrise Quartet, spending an Afternoon of a Faun and ending with a Transfigured Night (Verklärte Nacht). On Wednesday we are transported to a Russian tea house to hear, among other delights, Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition interpreted by Nino Gvetadze.
Thursday’s theme is (Un)written Letters, and the programme features sumptuous quartets by Janáček (Intimate Letters) and Sibelius (Voces intimae). On Friday 14 July we find ourselves once again gripped by the charm of the night and the moon. On Saturday we hear fugue and the play of water, with that all-time favourite at Kuhmo, the Trout, once again at his antics. Sunday begins with Venetian masks, continues with circus music and finishes with an Expressionist cabaret.
The second week of the Festival opens with rain, spring and birdsong. Tuesday starts in a stormy atmosphere, but the day ends with a concert that celebrates Finland’s independence with music by seven Finnish composers. Wednesday 19 July promises to be a day of Evergreens, and begins with Vivaldi’s Seasons. Thursday is all about the future, and we get to hear the Theremin and bandoneon.
Friday’s subject is Flower Power, with masterworks from Schubert to Sibelius. The theme on the last day is Prophets, the high point of the festival being Handel’s splendid oratorio Messiah. It will also be something of a ’zap’ experience in itself, combining traditional music, rap and jazz.
Popular performers yet again
Kuhmo not only features well-known artists but once again young chamber musicians. Veteran stars include pianist Konstantin Bogino, violinist Pavel Vernikov, oboist Nicholas Daniel and clarinettist Michel Lethiec. Kuhmo audience favourites include virtuosi bandoneonist and composer Marcelo Nisinman and singer Romina Basso, whose interpretations of Baroque music have made a lasting impression. The fantastic improvisation artist Stian Carstensen makes his first appearance at Kuhmo this year and ensembles include the Danel Quartet, the Talich Quartet, Meta4 and the Storioni Trio.
Kuhmo Chamber Music will be making a tentative start in two locations. There will be a concert in Kajaani on July 9 featuring Handel and Mahler in co-operation with Kajaani’s Poetry Week. On the same day music by Haydn, Paganini and Brahms will be heard in Iisalmi. And Vuokatti will be another musical destination – as usual – during the Festival. The skills and expertise of musicians seen at Kuhmo will also be going abroad. In February 2017 there are four concerts planned for South Korea in collaboration with the Kumho Asiana Cultural Foundation, and one of them has as its theme Sibelius and his contemporaries. In the autumn there will also be a concert in Hong Kong.
The Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival makes an essential contribution to the Finland 100 programme in the project Kuulkaa korpeimme kuiskintaa (Hear the Whisper of our Woods) in Finland. Ethno Music Festival Sommelo, Poetry Week/Words and Music in Kajaani and Kuhmo Chamber Music together make a month-long series of events. The spirit of Finland is also alive and well in art exhibitions. The foyer of the Kuhmo Arts Centre will be showing the work of graphic artist Pälvi Hanni, and design by Yrjö Kukkapuro, Jouko Järvisalo, Kaarle Holmberg and Kimmo Varjoranta will be on view in the Gallery at the Chamber Music Centre.
Chamber music is a collaboration
The Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival 2017 has a budget of one million euros. The Festival’s principal partner is OP Financial Group. Its friends are Canorama Oy, Eeva magazine, F-Musiikki Oy, Kainuun Sanomat, Kaisanet Oy, Keskinäinen Eläkevakuutusyhtiö Etera, Kuhmo Oy, Loiste Oy, Metsähallitus, No-Pan Auto Oy and Osuuskauppa Maakunta. The Festival receives grants from the Ministry of Education and Culture and the City of Kuhmo. An Asia networking grant has also been received from the Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation.
Further information from:
Kuhmo Chamber Music, tel. +358 8 652 0936
The programme and artists can be seen on the festival’s website www.kuhmofestival.fi.
Brochures in Finnish will be available in a week, brochures in English in three weeks.