Kokkola Winter Accordion, the beloved and popular mid-winter festival, is gearing up for its 19th run. This year, the festival celebrates Finland’s 100th year of independence with a program that is at once sophisticated, diverse and soulful.
Friday and Saturday evening, February 10th and 11th, will be spent in the city’s Customs House (Tullipakkahuone) in the company of none other than Marshal Mannerheim. The event will feature Timo Närhinsalo’s monologue drama, “Viimeinen Päiväkäsky” (Last Orders), followed by a dinner fit for a marshal. The evening will include a diverse offering of Finnish music: Oskar Merikanto, Heino Kaski, Jean Sibelius, Lasse Pihlajamaa – just to name a few. Sari Viinikainen will accompany on the accordion with soloist Marianne Tunkkari. The same evening will feature a celebratory dance of independence in Snellman Hall to the sounds of the Esperanza dance orchestra.
The Mannerheim theme continues on Sunday. A performance of “Together – Finland Year 100” is a six-hour-long concert in Snellman Hall (14-20) where Finnish compositions of every style will be performed. The format is a little like that of the famed BBC Proms concerts in London, with no assigned seating. Guests can come and go as they please and are free to simply enjoy the concert, with breaks for socializing, eating and drinking. A chance to take a guided tour of Kokkola’s famed historic wooden house district, Neristan, will also be available earlier in the evening that Sunday.
An Adventure in the beat and digital world …
After a festive opening, Wednesday will welcome Finnish music from a whole other era. In the city conservatory hall at 7 p.m. begins “Digi och Beat,” Where three young virtuosos will come together to create phenomenal music.
“Beat-boxer” Felix Zenger, Netta Skog on digital accordion and Elisa Järvelä on electric violin will carry-out this futuristic musical event, where the enigmatic worlds of sound and space will meet to birth something totally new. Featuring Finnish composers, improvisers and remarkable solos, the evening promises to be a musical adventure.
Seminar: Accordion and the Independent Finland
In the city conservatory’s little hall on Friday, an in-depth seminar will explore the life of the accordion – from a cultural and even scientific perspective. The afternoon seminar will look back at Finland’s relationship with the beloved instrument since the nation’s independence and pose the question: what has the accordion meant for Finland? Is the accordion a part of Finnish identity or just momentary distraction for the Finnish musician?
The event will feature Kalevi Aho, FD Marko Tikka, professor Matti Rantanen and the director Minna Sirnö, with MM Kimmo Mattila as seminar leader.
Premier of Kalevi Aho’s work
Friday evening’s concert in the city conservatory hall (7 p.m.) is one of the week’s most awaited high points: the Central Ostrobothnia Chamber Orchestra will premier Kalevi Aho’s concert for accordion with Saila Korhonen as soloist. Kokkola Winter Accordion, Central Ostrobothnia Chamber Orchestra and Solvenia’s radio orchestra requested this work more than three years ago, and the decision to premier it at the independence-themed festival was made then. A young accordionist who has boldly taken on Aho’s works before, Saila Korhonen was especially chosen for the performance, which will be broadcast live on YLE.
“I am totally confident that Saila’s performance is going to be nothing but outstanding,” said Kalevi Aho last spring when he heard her for the first time.
The works of Klami, Johansson and Rydman will be presented in addition to the premier. Juha Kangas will serve as conductor.
A well-known and deeply Finnish event
During the festival’s closing weekend, already well-known events will focus on honoring Finland’s 100th anniversary. One such example is a beloved annual gathering at Kallentori that is deeply Finnish in nature: a packed gathering where people play, sing and dance together.
And then there is the festival’s famed annual Guardia Nueva closing weekend concert, which belongs to Winter Accordion like a pat of butter in a bowl of porridge. This year, the concert is titled Finland 100 Years and the acclaimed orchestra will plumb the depths of the Finnish soul. The program consists solely of music from the decades since Finland became free. It will welcome, as in previous years, the acclaimed soloist Mari Palo, as well as the striking Matti Korkiala. And who could forget Guardia Nueva’s own conductor Raimo Vertainen.
The Festival week will close on a relaxing note, with dance … in skis. To be more specific, Sunday will feature a dance at Rastimaja in front of an open fire with warm juice in hand.
And last but not least, Alfa TV will record several concerts during the festival week, so you’ll be able to enjoy them again and again, even after the fun has ended.
Festival week’s program: www.talviharmonikka.com
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