Oulu Music Festival will be organized for the 33rd time on 12th to 26th March 2023. The festival's program includes a wide range of classical and rhythm music concerts and well as wonderful visits and co-productions. The program includes a total of 23 concerts and performances during the more than two-week festival. The festival's program has been designed by the artistic directors of the festival, soprano Mari Palo and saxophonist Jukka Perko.
The theme of the 2023 festival is Näkyjä – Visions. "Together we hear the concerts, together we see them; together we can see and experience also a familiar piece of music in a new light", the artistic directors of the festival, Mari Palo and Jukka Perko describe the theme of the upcoming festival. "Fortunately, the time of streamed concerts is now behind us, and we can once again experience the presence of the audience and the musicians and have genuine interaction at the concerts."
The 2023 festival will also celebrate Nordic liaison and our second domestic language. The program includes several Swedish works and performers: for example a visit by a Swedish symphony orchestra and a bilingual opera for children are included.
The opening concert of the Oulu Music Festival will be heard on March 12, 2023 in Madetoja Hall, when the Swedish Norrlandsoperan symphony orchestra arrives in Oulu as part of its Bothnic Bay tour. The comprehensive program of the opening concert will feature compositions by such composers as Karin Rehnqvist, Kaija Saariaho, Jean Sibelius, Karol Szymanowski and Richard Wagner. The concert will be conducted by Norrlandsoperan's Visiting Finnish conductor Ville Matvejeff. As the soloist of Szymanowski's violin concerto, we’ll hear the excellent Swedish violinist Cecilia Zilliacuse.
In addition to the opening concert both Samuli Edelmann and harmonica quartet Sväng will perform joint concerts with Oulu Symphony Orchestra. At Svängfonia on Thursday 16.3. Sväng's own sound and traditional Finnish dark humor are combined with the playing of the musicians of the Oulu Symphony. Thursday 23.3. we will hear compositions from Samuli Edelman's legendary Vaiheet album – of course without forgetting Edelmann's most beloved songs.
A total of five chamber concerts will be heard at the Oulu Music Festival 2023. In the first chamber concert on Tuesday 14.3. we will hear Arttu Kataja and Pauliina Tukiainen perform Schubert's song series Winterreise, Winter Journey, while in the second concert on 15.3. we will hear the Arktinen Hysteria ensemble, one of the leading Finnish chamber music ensembles.
On Saturday 18.3. we will hear the works of composers Bergman and Englund performed by pianist Emil Holmström, clarinetist Michal Konopinski and of course the Oulu Symphony Chamber Musicians. Saturday's second chamber concert, performed by the KAAÅS trio and the artistic director of the Oulu Music Festival, Mari Palo, highlights female artists and composers. Founded in 2011, KAAÅS is a piano trio of three talented musicians.
The fifth chamber concert will be heard on 19.3. In the cathedral of Oulu, where Tuira Chamber Choir and choir director Risto Laitinen together with tenor Aki Alamikkotervo, harpist Minea Varho and organist Ismo Hintsala perform a concert that praises choral and organ music. In the concert, we will hear three undisputed landmarks of European choral-organ music of the 20th century.
The festival also has program for the youngest members of the family. On Monday 13.3. in the OPERA BOX's bilingual children's opera, the kids get to follow adventurous journeys of Swedish and Finnish-speaking mice. The work is aimed especially at children between the ages of 4 and 10 and is intended to introduce children to our second domestic language and to notice how easily we learn to understand each other.
During the festival, the audience can also enjoy several club concerts at RioLive in the city center. Aili Ikonen will arrive at the festival for her album release concert on Friday 24.3. Together with an international top group, Pianist Kari Ikonen will play iconic new compositions that combine the fresh Nordic jazz landscape with the delicate lyricism of Arabic music on March 17. Sunday 19.3. gongs take over the stage in Mika Kallio's concert Gong Odyssey. The musical adventure continues in the duo concert of Sami Pitkämö and Matti Paatelma, where the duo will arrive to celebrate Tony Bennett on Tuesday 21.3.
Guitarist Teemu Viinikainen celebrates at the Oulu Music Festival the first solo guitar album of his career, Songs of Silence, released in November 2022. Viinikainen is a master of strong atmosphere, and his playing is based on minimalism. At the beginning of the concert, we will se the documentary "Silence... and the birth of sound" about Viinikainen, in which, in addition to Viinikainen himself, the actor Hannu-Pekka Björkman and master instrument maker A-P Paasonen will appear. The starting point of the documentary was to tell how a new guitar is built for Viinikainen, but it also deals with the relationship to silence of a guitarist suffering from tinnitus.
The last concert of the festival on Sunday 26.3. leads to big questions. Jukka Perko Avara together with the actor Hannu-Pekka Björkman have created an audio image of transience, life and death using words and music. Inspired by the medieval motif of the dance of death, the performance "The suit is sewn in silence" travels through time.
Drummer and experimental musician Tatu Rönkkö brings to Oulu Music Festival his solo project City is a Drum, in which he plays buildings, structures and objects in public urban space. The percussionist approaches objects by drumming, rubbing, shaking and clapping, and by using electronic effects he creates unique instruments from everyday objects. "I'm interested in bringing people together to the edge of something new and strange. You don't even need to understand experimental music, it's enough to dare to let yourself be carried away by the sound," characterizes Rönkkö. There are two performances of the Cem>City of the Drum on Saturday 18th of March, and they are free of charge.
At the Oulu Music Festival, you can also experience Marta & Kim: Our Arms Grew Together, a work combining dance and circus. The work is a self-portrait of its creators' love affair. In a world that emphasizes independence, they have chosen interdependence. The intimate and honest work tells about what normally remains behind closed doors: the sensuality and vulnerability of two people becoming one body.
The first international classical and rhythmic music masterclasses were organized in connection with the 2013 festival, and since then they have been a part of the Oulu Music Festival. In 2023, classical music will be taught with vocal and piano master classes. The vocal master class is taught by musician baritone Arttu Kataja and the piano master class is taught by internationally known pianist Pauliina Tukiainen. Singers Sami Pitkämö and Aili Järvelä teach in the rhythm music master classes.
The master class participants will have their own concerts in connection with the event: The final concert of the Lied master classes will be heard on Friday 17.3. and the final concert of rhythm music on Friday 24.3. Admission to both concerts is free.