The Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival will run for the 51st time from 11 to 24 July, 2021. The theme of festival is The Beethoven Burst.
For two frenetic weeks in July, Kuhmo is host to a chamber music festival attracting thousands of music lovers. In that fortnight, this town of 8,000 inhabitants echoes to the sound of music against a backcloth of a lake that almost laps the walls of the concert halls in the clear, unbelievable northern light.
The concerts are held at the Kuhmo Arts Centre, in the Lentua Hall renowed for its excellent acoustics, in Kuhmo’s beautiful wooden Church and in the hall of the new Tuupala Primary School. The concert venues are all within walking distance of one another, or bicycles are a popular means of getting around, for artists and audiences alike. Music is everywhere, there are concerts from morning to late at night, and people just live for the music. In the evenings, gathered round an open fire in the yard of the festival restaurant, musicians and festival-goers get together and strike up friendships.
In over 50 years, Kuhmo Chamber Music has grown to become one of the world’s foremost music festivals. As early as 1989, the prestigious American journal Connoisseur was already calling it ‘possibly the best anywhere’. In 2009-2015 the Austrian music magazine Festpiele rated Kuhmo among the world’s leading festivals, and in summer 2014 the British Financial Times described it as ‘a remarkable event, where unfettered creative idealism reigns’.
Following a one-year break, the Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival will take place once again this summer. Fifty-five concerts are planned, with the opportunity to hear dozens of top musicians from Finland and abroad. The theme this year is Beethoven, the 250th anniversary of whose birth last year was overshadowed by the coronavirus pandemic. The Festival runs 11-24 July.
Many well-known artists from the world of music will be performing again this year at Kuhmo. Pianists include Nino Gvetadze and Konstantin Bogino, and among the 20 or more violinists appearing are Sergey Malov and Daniel Rowland. Performing too are the cellists Senja Rummukainen and Trey Lee, among others. Five chamber ensembles will be playing, including groups from the Kuhmo Quartet Academy and, ever popular with audiences, the Danel Quartet and the Storioni Trio.
The pandemic means that only half the seats at the venues can be occupied. The venues this year are the Kuhmo Arts Centre and Kuhmo Church, as these larger spaces are better suited to social distancing. Audience safety has also been considered in the timing of events, because the number of concerts each day has been limited to just four, and there will be no intermissions. This will allow audiences enough time to leave venues safely and to move between them.
The theme this summer is The Beethoven Burst! Over the two-week period visitors will hear some of Beethoven’s major large-scale chamber works, from the violin sonatas to the massive Septet. There will also be performances of all his symphonies arranged for smaller ensembles. The Festival will end with none other than the first performance in Finland of Vladimir Mendelssohn’s arrangement of Beethoven’s ninth symphony for chamber ensemble.
Audiences will enjoy a wide range of Beethoven’s output, as a lot of rarely heard works are on the programme. There is also much music from Beethoven’s time the Trout Quintet hasn’t been forgotten either. In general, the Festival programme will focus more than usual on the chamber classics. A further speciality for Kuhmo will come in the shape of Erik Satie’s Vexations for piano, which, with the repetitions, takes almost 24 hours to play!
The expression, the ’Beethoven burst’, comes from a gamma-ray burst observed in a distant galaxy in 1999, which was followed by an afterglow. The phenomenon came to be known as the Beethoven Burst, as it was discovered on the composer’s birthday. Artistic Director of Kuhmo Chamber Music, Vladimir Mendelssohn, has a poetic explanation for the coincidence: divine and natural forces had meant the discovery of a hypernova and Beethoven’s birth should take place on the same day. The light resulting from the birth of a star is a wondrous event, which can be seen, but music is like a dream, that can be heard, as Beethoven himself said.
It was the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth last year, when Kuhmo Chamber Music was interrupted owing to Covid-19. But Beethoven continues to shine and Vladimir Mendelssohn says that his music, the product of his limitless imagination, embodies passions, visions, moonlight, storms, jealousy, love, contempt and admiration, bringing to life the mythical mythical Prometheus, spirits and muses and the Ode to Joy. They have all become part of the same inextinguishable afterglow.
over 200 compositions
"The strenghts of
the Festival are
cosy atmosphere and
- Festspiele 2012
The programme can be seen on the website www.kuhmofestival.fi/english.
For further information, please contact the Festival office in Kuhmo, tel. +358 40 169 6509 or e-mail kuhmo.festival(at)kuhmofestival.fi
Good to know
Kuhmo is located some 600 km north of the Finnish capital, Helsinki, not far from the eastern frontier with Russia. The closest railway station and airport are 100 km away in Kajaani. There is a transportation service from the airport to Kuhmo. Further information and taxi bookings from the Festival Office, tel. intl. +358 44 544 5163. There is also a coach service from Kajaani to Kuhmo.
www.vr.fi (Finnish Railways)
www.matka.fi (long-distance buses)
www.onnibus.com (long-distance buses)
Bus timetables for journeys between Kajaani and Kuhmo can be found on the website www.kuhmofestival.fi/english.”