Oulu Music Festival 2018 – the whole March program is on sale
The Oulu Music Festival will be held for the 28th time during March 11th - 24th, 2018. This multi-genre urban festival offers symphony concerts, chamber music, rhythm music, contemporary music and dance. In addition to the festival, international master classes are held for the sixth time. Since 2013, the Artistic Director of this event has been violinist, conductor and composer Jaakko Kuusisto.
World-class Soloists Perform with Oulu Symphony Orchestra
One of the most sought-after dramatic sopranos in the world, opera singer Karita Mattila, is the highlight of the Oulu Music Festival. She has performed on the world's largest opera stages and at festivals such as Metropolitan Opera, Bayerische Staatsoper, BBC Proms and The Edinburgh International Festival. At the Oulu Music Festival, Mattila will perform as a soloist with the Oulu Symphony Orchestra in two concerts, on March 22nd and 23rd. The concerts include Mattila's close-to-heart operatic pearls, such as Song to the Moon from Antonín Dvořák's opera Rusalka, Morrò ma prima in grazia from Giuseppe Verdi's opera A Masked Ball (Un ballo in maschera) and Jean Sibelius's beloved solo songs, such as Flickan kom ifrån sin älsklings möte.
Entropia is the electric bass concerto of bass guitar virtuoso Lauri Porra. It was written in 2015 and premiered by Porra and the Lahti Symphony Orchestra. The concerto will be performed twice at the Oulu Music Festival with Porra as soloist. During the second half of the concerts, the audience will hear a dance music symphony composed by Swedish composer Hans Ek, consisting of 17 iconic EDM hits, including adaptions of songs by Swedish House Mafia, Daft Punk, Skrillex and Massive Attack for the symphony orchestra. The Oulu Music Festival has been selected as participant in the Finnish Cultural Foundation's Taidetestaajat project (Art Testers’ Project), which will bring eighth-grade students to the concert at Madetoja Hall on Friday March 16th. An public concert is held on Thursday, March 15th. Jaakko Kuusisto is the conductor of all the orchestral concerts.
High-class Chamber Music
The festival once again presents a magnificent offering of chamber music concerts, in which long-standing artists and young musicians perform. In the opening concert at Oulu City Hall on Sunday, March 11th, the Artistic Director of Oulu Music Festival, violinist Jaakko Kuusisto will step onto the stage with the young internationally acclaimed cellist Jonathan Roozeman and pianist Valeria Resjan, who has become known through successes at prominent competitions. The concert opens with Jaakko Kuusisto’s piano trio, which he composed for his brother Pekka some 25 years ago. In addition, the concert includes two timeless chamber music masterpieces: Johannes Brahms' bold cello sonata, and Mendelssohn's sparkling and youthful piano trio.
Chamber music will also be heard in Pikisaari at Galleria Harmaja, where Kuusisto and Roozeman will be joined by one of Finland’s leading instrumentalists, violinist Elina Vähälä on Tuesday March 13th. The program includes, among others, Lera Auerbach's Lonely Suite for Solo Violin and Maurice Ravel's Sonata for violin and cello. In addition to the concert, the audience has an opportunity to enjoy painter Irmeli Hulkko’s exhibition, which is visiting Galleria Harmaja during March 2nd - 25th.
The relaxed atmosphere of the chamber club can be experienced at Vanha Palosema on Wednesday, March 14th. Cellist Jonathan Roozeman and electric bassist Lauri Porra create a joint, new experience of Bach's solo cello series. The concert of Friday, March 16th takes place in a private home. An intimate space is ideal for chamber music: there is no distance, artists and small audience are one.
The last chamber concert of the festival is on Sunday, March 18th, and the focus is on Oulu’s young musical generation. This concert will be opened by Niilo Korsulainen's string quintet, which earned an award at the Uuno Klami Composing Competition for Children and Youth in November 2017. In Janáček's sonata, the masterful Elina Vähälä appears with Oulunsalo-born Hannu Alasaarela, who enjoyed success in last year’s Maj Lind Piano Competition. The concert concludes with Dvořák's popular Serenade, in a version for string quartet and wind quintet. Festival artists are joined in this performance by the Chamber musicians of the Oulu Symphony Orchestra.
Big Band and Jazz Music by Finnish and International Stars
Rock musician Kauko Röyhkä and aFinnish jazz legend, vibraphonist Severi Pyysalo will be the soloists of Oulu All Star Big Band on Saturday, March 17th and Sunday, March 18th 2018. In concerts at Valvesali, works taken from Röyhkä’ and Pyysalo's collaborative album Turmion suurherttua are turned into big band adaptations. The lyrics of Röyhkä, who is known as a characteristic storyteller, communicate brilliantly with Pyysalo's strong melodic language. This combination is complemented with carefully selected songs from Kauko Röyhkä’s long career.
On Sunday, March 18th, saxophonist Jukka Perko, a leading jazz Finnish artist, will bring his latest Tritone band to the Oulu Music Festival, featuring bassist Antti Lötjönen and drummer Teppo Mäkynen, both prominent Finnish jazz musicians. The Tritone band released an album of Dizzy Gillespie’s music in April 2017. Songs such as A Night in Tunisia, Con Alma and Tin Tin Deo get multifaceted interpretations from this trio of Finnish jazz stars.
On Wednesday, March 21st, Vanha Paloasema Jazz Club will feature the American rhythm music masterclass teachers; jazz violinist Zach Brock, who won a Grammy Award for his collaboration with Snarky Puppy, and the Manhattan School of Music professor, jazz pianist Phil Markowitz. This quartet is complemented by bassist Ville Herrala and drummer Jaska Lukkarinen. On Friday, March 23rd, rhythm music masterclass students will perform at Vanha Paloasema. During this evening, the Brockowitz duo (Zach Brock and Phil Markowitz) and Lauri Porra Flyover Ensemble will also take the stage. In addition to Porra, Mikko Kosonen, Aki Rissanen, Juho Viljanen and Ville Pynssi make up the Flyover Ensemble.
Dance and Contemporary Circus at Valvesali
The Oulu Music Festival also features dance and contemporary circus. On Wednesday, March 14th and on Thursday March 15th at Valvesali, choreographer Sibiry Konaté of Burkina Faso, presents Clay Pot a work in which she ponders how different cultures meet and understand each other. This performance deals with the current theme of humanity through contemporary dance and traditional African dance: how can I find my place in Finland and retain my own roots. Dancers Sibiry Konaté and Mbacke Niang and´musicians Soungalo Mercaux Sanou and Issiaka Dembele perform.
On Tuesday, March 20th and Wednesday, March 21st, The Great Paradox of Play, a Danish contemporary circus show will take over the Valvesali stage. Three Nordic magicians, Axel Adlercreutz (SWE), David Tholander (DEN) and Robert Jägerhorn (FIN) will surprise, inspire, question, celebrate, and above all, will bring an impetuous play that is an integral part of humanity in our lives. The starting point of this magical nouvelle performance is magic, and homo ludens, the playful human.
Passionate Tango and Experiences Full of Taste
The festival's final concert includes passionate and soulful interpretations of the most beloved compositions by Astor Piazzolla, the Argentinean tango master, on Saturday, March 24th at Uusi Seurahuone. The magically skillful band includes Maria Ylipää (vocals), Jaakko Kuusisto (violin), Niko Kumpuvaara (accordion), Marzi Nyman (guitar) and Ville Herrala (contrabass). This configuration is together for the first time at this festival. The audience has an opportunity to buy a dinner ticket for the concert, which includes a three-course dinner from Restaurant Hugo and a table in the Uusi Seurahuone concert hall for the whole evening.
For children, there is a rewarding opera Silver Spoon, shown at Valvesali on Saturday, March 24th. In this opera, the audience will hear songs of Georges Bizet, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Gioachino Rossini. The opera is directed and scripted by Erja Alander, with staging and costumes by Tarmo Tanttu. The performers are singers Anu Hostikka, Juha Hostikka and Ville Salonen, with accordion played by Janne Valkeajoki. There will also be school/nursery school shows of this opera on Friday, March 23rd (before noon).
Masterclasses as Part of the Festival
As a part of the Oulu Music Festival, international masterclasses are held for the sixth time. During week 11, masterclasses in violin, cello and piano are held, where students are offered individual tuition. During week 12, rhythm music masterclasses are held as band tuition. The application period for masterclasses ends on Monday, January 22nd, 2018.
The violin masterclass is given by Elina Vähälä, the cello masterclass by Jonathan Roozeman and the piano masterclass by Valeria Resjan. Masterclasses courses in rhythm music are taught by electric bassist Lauri Porra, jazz violinist Zach Brock (USA) and jazz pianist Phil Markowitz (USA). Lectures given by the teachers form an integral part of the masterclasses.