When studying in Detmold, Seppo Kimanen wrote a letter dated April 13th, 1970, to a dentist in Kuhmo, an organizer in the local music society. Among other things, he suggested “I the undersigned together with a group of young top class musicians are looking for a place where we could arrange music courses and a chamber music festival in the summer, say, at the end of July and the beginning of August. The idea is unique in Finland… Is it possible for Kuhmo to provide facilities for the realization of the idea? Would you or somebody else be enthusiastic enough to initiate the project?””
In the beginning of July, Kimanen’s idea had become true – a handful of his fellow students started the Kuhmo Chamber Music by playing the Concerto in G major for four violins by Telemann at the Kuhmo Church. The performers were Risto Paalanen, Yoshiko Arai, Yoshiko Osumi and Danielle Möckel. According to reviews “in view of the circumstances, the number of audience was fairly high”.
In addition to the above mentioned, teachers of the first music camp were Rainer Möckel, Tero Airas, Seppo Kimanen, Jari Sinkkonen, Jorma Sauros, Markku Paalanen, Risto Vähälä, Risto Lappalainen and Kari Aronsson.
The total number of audience was 800. The event was supported by the Municipality of Kuhmo by 700 Finnish marks. After the expenses had been paid, Seppo Kimanen shared the rest among the artists.
Having visited the 2nd Chamber Music Festival, the first violinist of the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra, Mr. Takeshi Hikada, stated that never in his life had he experienced such an event, far from big cities, surrounded by nature. In his opinion, the Finns and Japanese have a similar temperament. The music students were musical and assiduous, yet a little too calm and reserved. In 1971, the number of students was 22 (twice the number of the preceding year) including ten from Kuhmo.
Trio Tateno made its first appearance in Kuhmo with Yoshiko Arai in violin, Seppo Kimanen in cello and Izumi Tateno in piano. The audience numbered 1.350 persons in eleven concerts. The ticket prices were four marks and one mark. The Festival was financially supported by the Municipality of Kuhmo and the Art Council of the Province of Oulu, 4.000 marks in all.
The summer was sultry and hot. Both teachers and students were sweating in their classrooms. Sometimes they had to rehearse close to midnight. The programme offered performances of 40 works during the week, mostly representing romantic style.
The music camp students numbered 54. The total budget including music camp amounted to 17.500 FIM and the financial support from the Art Council was 3.500 FIM and from the Municipality 2.000 FIM.
American pianist Edward Auer paid a surprise visit to Kuhmo, gave an extra recital and stayed to teach in the music camp. Five volunteers interested in music and five assistants took care of the Festival and the music camp. A music kindergarten was founded and has been included in the Festival ever since. It taught ear training and rhythm. Twenty-five children participated in the kindergarten.
The audience numbered 1.600 persons. The budget increased along with inflation.
Village concerts were held at the Lentiira Church and in the Vesa House of Koskenmäki. The musicians praised the acoustics, but only 13 persons attended. A local farmer, Oiva Korhonen, gave an explanation “everybody knew about the concert, but the locals still had prejudiced attitudes and preferred to arrange their fishing trips at the time of concert”.
During the four first years of the Kuhmo Chamber Music the concerts were arranged in the main hall of Piilola School, and starting 1974, in the new building of the Primary School. The opening concert was given by Izumi Tateno on July 28th and he played the Sonata in B minor by Liszt. In the music camp, teaching had so far been given on individual basis, but now ensembles also became part of teaching.
Kainuun maakuntarahasto (a Fund of the Kainuu district) was one of the financial supporters already in 1973. The financial support totalled 10.600 FIM in 1974. The audience numbered 2.000.
The Board of Finland Festivals visited Kuhmo, held a meeting during an interval and made a decision to accept the Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival as a member of the society. In view of the future development, the decision was of crucial importance for the Festival. The total amount of financial aid increased, the media became interested and, for the first time, the Ministry of Education was one of the financial supporters.
In addition to concerts, a series of lectures was arranged. The guest speaker was Mr. Erik Tawaststjerna, who lectured on the chamber music by Jean Sibelius.
The audience numbered 3.100.
The membership in the Finland Festivals was rewarding. Finnish newspapers reviewed the event for the first time and the number of listeners increased up to 7.000.
The composer of the year was Joonas Kokkonen. Eli Goren and William Pleeth came to Kuhmo for the first time and, along with them, the first two Stradivari were seen and heard at the Festival.
The Kuhmo Chamber Music Appreciation Society was founded. One of its first tasks was to obtain a grand piano for the Festival. The first grand piano was bought by the Municipality of Kuhmo after a severe political dispute. The question was put to a vote in the municipal council and the supporters of the grand piano won over the countermotion, which was a new lather to the Technical School.
Eli Goren, the first violinist in the BBC Symphony Orchestra, was thrilled at the exceptionally good atmosphere that prevailed among students and teachers. His opinion was that the students were very talented.
The financial aid totalled 85.000 FIM. The share of the Municipality of Kuhmo and the Ministry of Education was 60.000 FIM.
The new Steinway arrived in Kuhmo, but two thirds of the price was still unpaid.
The guest composer was Michio Mamiya from Japan and two of his works had their first performances in Kuhmo. Among the audience – which numbered 10.000 – was also Mrs. Sarolta Kodály listening to music composed by her husband.
A live recording made at the beginning of the week was available at the end of the Festival. The Chamber Music Cavalcade was sold out and the programme run for seven hours – a new record was made.
Seppo Kimanen was hosting the Festival for the last time for the time being, as he had been appointed Director of the Helsinki Festival. His tasks were taken over by the trio Yoshiko Arai-Tuulikki Karjalainen-Annukka Norta.
According to Seppo Kimanen, “The Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival has established itself as one of the leading cultural events in this country”.
The total amount of financial support had somewhat increased. The share of the Ministry of Education was about 70.000 FIM and the same amount came from the Municipality. The rest of the totalling 166.000 FIM came from the Art Council of Oulu and the Finnish Cultural Foundation.
For the first time, the fir tree appeared as an emblem in the concert hall as well as in brochures and posters.
The opening concert at Kuhmo Church gathered 700 and the concert at Lentiira Church 300 listeners.
The Festival offered 29 concerts during a week including five village concerts. Two concerts were given outside Kuhmo. The composer of the year was Aulis Sallinen. Schubert was the other important composer in 1978.
All applicants coming from the Kuhmo area, one fourth of the total, were accepted as students at the music camp, a principle that has always been applied. The students coming from outside Kuhmo formed chamber music ensembles. Two students’ concerts conducted by Eli Goren and Erkki Rautio were also arranged. The number of students including music kindergarten was over 200.
The 10th Jubilee of the Kuhmo Chamber Music was celebrated. For the first time, the festival period of seven days was extended to ten days.
Jeremy Parsons wrote in the jubilee publication: “The Kuhmo Chamber Music has taken a special position in the Finnish music life. During the ten past years, two music festivals have completely changed our attitude to music – Kuhmo and Savonlinna”. According to him, the unique achievement of Kuhmo is that musicians and music lovers meet in Kuhmo in an atmosphere of love.
Gidon Kremer came and was fascinated. Two years after he first came, he founded his own music festival in Lockenhaus, Austria.
The composers of the year were Arvo Pärt and Ludwig van Beethoven. The number of audience was 15.000. For the first time, also an art exhibition was arranged. Two Kainuu painters, Matti Koskela and Niilo Hyttinen, displayed their works in the Technical School.
The financial support totalled 231.200 FIM. The foreign media found Kuhmo and both the Finnish and Swedish televisions made a programme of the Festival.