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The Art of Illusion at Kuhmo


Finland’s biggest chamber music festival takes place at Kuhmo this year for the fifty-first time. Once again, over a two-week period, audiences will get to hear some of the great chamber classics as well as some surprise items. The Kuhmo Festival starts on 12 July. There will be 70 concerts performed by around 150 musicians in all. The guest composer this summer is the highly acclaimed Osvaldo Golijov.

The theme of Kuhmo Chamber Music this time is the Art of Illusion. Each day has its own special title, such as The Tree of Knowledge, Hero’s Journey, The Hourless Clock and Lost Souls Alley. Artistic Director Vladimir Mendelssohn reminds us in this time of credible fake news that the illusions of music can offer an escape route from the noise of the media. He urges us to put down our smart phones and ‘detox’ for two weeks of music.

The programme that Mendelssohn has put together contains a fair number of popular works, inevitably including the Trout Quintet, but there are also some masterworks that are rarely heard in Finland. One major composer who for some reason has received less attention than he deserves is Mieczysław Weinberg. He fled from Poland to the Soviet Union when war broke out in 1939. His output is wide-ranging and the music is first-rate. Several of his string quartets will be heard at Kuhmo, played by the Danel Quartet.

The quest composer of the summer is the Argentinian-born Osvaldo Golijov, whose music is a fascinating fusion of tango nuevo, references to the Jewish tradition and elements of modernism. His music will be performed over the duration of the Festival, and he will speak about his musical life and compositions on the Friday in the first week.

The musicians this summer include many familiar names and long-standing favourites of chamber music audiences, such as pianists Nino Gvetadze and Natacha Kudritskaya, violinists Nikita Boriso-Glebsky, Sergey Malov and Daniel Rowland, cellists Trey Lee and Senja Rummukainen, and bandoneon virtuoso Marcelo Nisinman. Among the eight ensembles appearing at Kuhmo in 2020 are the Danel Quartet, Storioni Trio, and the highly talented Swedish vocalists Ensemble Åtta. Newcomers include cellist Boris Andrianov, flautist Filippo Mazzolli and the Cremona Quartet.

The Festival starts on Sunday 12 July with Bach in Lentiira Church and ends on Saturday 25 July in a dancelike mood at the Kuhmo Arts Centre. There are around five concerts every day. The day will frequently begin with a concert in the Church where Baroque music is the main focus, and in the afternoon there will generally be one concert at Tuupala Primary School and another at the Kuhmo Arts Centre or in the church. The main evening venue now is the Kuhmo Arts Centre.

The Festival last year was celebrating its anniversary, extending to places outside Kuhmo itself, and the popular concerts in out-of-the-way places will continue in 2020. One interesting venue for these concerts is the isolated Levävaara farm at Elimyssalo, where 50 concertgoers will go by specially organised transport, though the final part of the journey has to be walked! There will also be concerts in the Kuhmo Chapel, at the Petola Visitor Centre and in the Kuhmo Orthodox Church. There is also a concert in nearby Kajaani.

The budget for Kuhmo Chamber Music 2020 is 950,000 euros. The Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture and the City of Kuhmo provide financial assistance. The main corporate partner is OP. Friends of the festival include Canorama Oy, F-Musiikki, Kainuun Sanomat, Kuhmo Oy, Loiste Oy, Metsähallitus, No-Pan Auto Oy and Osuuskauppa Maakunta. The Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation supports the training courses for young musicians organised by the Kuhmo Chamber Music Quartet Academy and their performances, and the Italian Cultural Institute in Helsinki is sponsoring the appearance of the Cremona Quartet at the Festival.


Further information from:

Kuhmo Chamber Music, tel. +358 44 544 5162

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