The 21st summer of Kuhmo Chamber Music ended in low spirits with two memorial concerts. Earlier in the winter we had lost our old friend Radu Chisu, who died of sudden illness, and in the first days of the Festival the sad news arrived telling that violinist Oleg Kagan had deceased. The chamber music public felt deep sorrow at the loss of two great artists.

Per aspera ad astra, one might say after the Festival. Despite several sudden illnesses and cancellations the traditionally high artistic level of the Festival could be maintained. The famous Kuhmo spirit proved true both among artists and organizers creating an inspiring atmosphere. In the midst of all difficulties, it was simply a miracle that the Festival could be carried through more or less as originally planned. Also the public contributed to the atmosphere by reaching an all-time record in the number of audience – over 40.000. Once again, the Festival was a success beyond all expectations.

The dominant theme was the music of our sister nation Hungary, which was presented from the court of Count Esterházy until today, the gipsy music included. Besides music by Haydn, Liszt, Bartók, Kodály and Dohnányi Kuhmo offered an excellent opportunity to familiarize with leading composers of not only Hungary but also whole Europe. György Kurtág, Lázslo Vidovszky and Attila Bozay were in Kuhmo in person and interpreted their own music.

Also Johannes Brahms links up with Hungary and his whole chamber music production was heard during the Festival. And the link continues, Johann Sebastian Bach can be considered as a model for Brahms. Bach’s music was, in a way, the thematic pedal point relating to Hungary.

Also the non-European music has been a part of the Kuhmo tradition and now, after a while, it was turn for Korean music again. A group of 15 artists from the Korean Traditional Performing Arts Centre gave a performance presenting the rich music tradition of Korea.

New in Kuhmo was the Improvisation Workshop, directed by Heikki Sarmanto. The idea was to search for musical synthesis, where different cultures and musicians met to produce music which is understandable and approachable to everybody.

The solar eclipse on June 22nd, seen to the extent of 95 % in Kuhmo, was also noticed. The preceding moments were accompanied by the Sun Quartets by Haydn. The public which during the eclipse assembled by the lake Lammasjärvi experienced an exceptional atmosphere, although the sun for the most part stayed behind the clouds.

The musicians represented a high artistic level. A great many singers performed, as well as exceptionally many young artists at the start of their international career and, further, three top quartets, i.e. Britten Quartet from England, Nomos from Germany and Camerata from Poland. Old faithful friends known to the Kuhmo audience already since many years, were the basis for the successful Festival.

The cancellations caused artistic problems, but still, the organization was functioning well. A record public guaranteed a satisfactory result from the economic point of view. By the purchase of the house property of Torikatu 39 the Kuhmo Chamber Music also became firmly established in the City of Kuhmo.

The Festival budget amounted 4,5 million FIM in 1990.


The 22nd Kuhmo Chamber Music was a Festival of basic chamber music and, despite the cool summer, the aims were achieved both as regards artistic level and number of audience. The proportion of foreign audience has distinctly increased. The regular chamber music friends come to Kuhmo from longer and longer distances having the Festival as their meeting point. Kuhmo is considered as a sort of Mecca of chamber music lovers. The fact is that it is difficult to compete with Kuhmo in abundance of programme. Particularly this year, the abundant programme and the exceptionally high artistic level saved the Festival, when the nature was not at its best.

The main theme in 1991 was music from the German-speaking world, which evoked response in both musicians and audience. The violin sonatas by Ludwig van Beethoven were given superb interpretations, each by different performers. Chamber music by Felix Mendelssohn was brilliantly performed by top quartets.

Music by French composers Charpentier, Debussy and Ravel as well as music from as far as South America and Africa provided a contrast and a complement to the main theme.

Each festival day opened at 11 o’clock with early music at the church and continued with contemporary music in the afternoon. In the evening the stage was taken over by performers of classics and romantic music, many kinds of musical marathon runners and even a Taarab orchestra from Zanzibar.

My Favourite Music at 1 o’clock p.m. daily was a novelty series. The musicians chose their repertoire themselves and told the audience about their choices. In the second week the programme of the afternoon concerts consisted of student performances under the title Inspirations of the Day.

Another novelty was the Exhibition of New String Instruments in the Kuhmo library. Among the instruments on display were prize winners from the Paris International Violin-making Competition. The audience was allowed to try them and the violin makers also delivered lectures on the subject. As a whole, the exhibition turned out a great success.

Music and sports are not easily associated with each other, but the Kuhmo Chamber Music gave again proof of its ability to regenerate by starting the 22nd Festival with an international Tennis Tournament for music professionals. There were 20 participants and the winner was French pianist André Gorog.

The programme included 83 concerts with 130 musicians from 15 different countries plus the students of the music camp.

The budget was more or less on the level of previous years. It totalled 4,3 million FIM and thanks to brisk ticket sale, the final outcome materialized as expected. The audience numbered 39.300, which was somewhat below the record years. As a matter of fact, that was not only expected but even hoped-for, as the concert halls in the evening concerts were full and could not take more audience. The Arts Centre is impetuously expected as the premises have to correspond to the quality standards of both artists and instruments.


“The last summer before completion of the new Kuhmo Arts Centre seemed a sort of turning point in the life of 23-year-old Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival. So, I decided to put emphasis daringly on young artists this time”, said Artistic Director Seppo Kimanen after a successfully finished festival. In fact, all expectations in this respect were exceeded. In artistic sense the young musicians brought fresh blood and spirit to the event and, thanks to them, the Festival reached a high artistic level. It was by no means question of an intervening year. The young artists together with more experienced musicians lead the Festival to an artistic triumph, also rewarded by the audience which filled the concert halls.

“Our basic idea which does not favour big stars has proved right. The Kuhmo audience knows to appreciate quality and long-range work for what is essential in music rather than artificially overpriced stars.”

The festival programme was this summer by no means “selling”. So, it was no surprise that the number of audience – 36.000 – remained somewhat behind of the record years and it did not shake the event in any way. Despite the increasing costs due to devaluation of the Finnish mark, balance was reached in the festival budget – 4,1 million FIM – as savings were possible in certain other items. It can be considered as a satisfactory achievement for an event, whose main target is not profit but to survive year after year.

The main themes in the 23rd summer of Kuhmo chamber music were Finland and her neighbours, masterpieces by Franz Schubert and Italian ancient music. Besides the main themes, also stimulating digressions were made to other music styles.

Works commissioned by the Festival were also performed. A string quartet by Katia Tchemberdji, clarinet quintet by Magnus Lindberg and a composition called Ghirlande by Veli-Matti Puumala had their first performances at the Festival.

One of the prominent guests at the Festival was composer György Kurtag, whose work Hommage à Schubert had its first performance in Finland. Also composer Arvo Pärt visited the Festival to listen to the performance of his composition Introductory Prayer. Another personality was the brilliant violin pedagogue Zakhar Bron, whose master classes attracted top level students from all over the world.

An important new departure in 1992 was a Forum for Young Violinists, which gave six exceptionally talented violinists under 23 years a chance to perform as invited guests. The Forum is supported by the Oleg Kagan Memorial Fund and Imatran Voima.

Due to the theme Finland and her Neighbours the Festival had great many musicians from the neighbouring countries in both west and east. As many as four chamber orchestras performed at the Festival, i.e. Virtuosi di Kuhmo, the Moscow Chamber Academy, Ensemble XXI Moscow and the St Petersburg Soloists. The small ensembles were represented by the Jean Sibelius, Vanbrugh and Vogler Quartets and further, Tchaikovsky Trio and the trombone-piano duo Joh Kenny-Paul Flush.

Violinists Isabelle van Keulen, Peter Csaba, Ilja Grubert, Christian Tetzlaff, Thomas Zehetmair and the first prize winner in the latest Paganini Competition Massimo Quarta were among the festival artists as well as violists Vladimir Mendelssohn and Matti Hirvikangas. Also the cellists were well known Kuhmo artists: Natalia Gutman, Alexander Baillie, Anssi Karttunen, Jan-Erik Gustafsson and a new acquaintance Mark Coppey.

A real treat for music lovers was the great number of top pianists in Kuhmo, i.e. Grigori Sokolov, Leig Ove Andsnes, Roland Pöntinen, Staffan Scheja, Eliso Virsaladze, Juhani Lagerspetz and Philippe Cassard. Also vocal music was well represented. Among performers in Kuhmo were Lena Hoel, Hilde Torgersen, Marianne Hirsti, Mitsuko Shirai, Walton Grönroos and David Aler. Our faithful friend, double bass player Esko Laine was there and so were clarinetists Kari Kriikku and Diemut Schneider.

The expected new Arts Centre and the structural changes are reflected in many ways in programme planning in 1992. It was the last summer at old premises and the Festival was hopefully looking forward to next summer with the new concert hall. The new house was rising on the neighbouring site and it was expected to be completed by summer 1993.


The 24th summer of the Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival in the new Kuhmo Arts Centre was carried through more successfully than expected. The beautiful Lentua hall has generally been praised for being excellent for chamber music. The audience filled the hall night after night and rewarded the top level performances with enthusiasm and applause. The very first tunes revealed the incredibly good acoustical qualities of the long expected concert hall, which so redeemed all promises. All day long on the first day of the festival we could witness these qualities when listening to the repeating theme of Eric Satie’s Vexations for Piano in which the pianists of the festival took turns to play this over 17 hours’ work. Even the doubters had to admit that the Kuhmo spirit had found a new home.

The programme in the new Arts Centre offered great diversity. Besides music, also lectures, ballet, Argentine tango, an exhibition of string instruments, an exhibition of photographer Stefan Bremer and a look into non-European culture including Chinese tai chi was offered. The basis was, of course, traditional chamber music, which was performed in 88 concerts by about 150 artists. The core was formed by piano trios by Joseph Haydn and string quintets by W.A. Mozart and Luigi Boccherini. Also Icelandic chamber music was performed at the Festival.

One of the novelties was the simultaneous use of two concert halls so that the audience could freely change halls between the works. The arrangement seemed to work well.

Like the Violinist Forum last year, the Forum for Young Pianists brought seven brilliant young pianists to Kuhmo, who opened new visions to the world of piano.

Also first performances were heard. The quintet for string quartet and double bass by Toshio Hosokawa, a commission work of the Festival, had its first performance in Kuhmo. So did the cello sonata by Haridas Greif. Many of the string quintets by Boccherini, piano quintet by Louise Farrenc and Natagara by Jonathan Harvey were first performances in Finland.

In Kuhmo, the emphasis has always been in music rather than performers, but naturally they also have an important role. Faithful Kuhmo friends are among others Eliso Virsaladze, Vladimir Mendelssohn, Peter Csaba, Isabelle van Keulen, Stephen Burns, Christian Ivaldi, Grigori Sokolov, Pavel Vernikov, Konstantin Bogino and the Lindsay Quartet, who performed at the Festival. New acquaintances were among others pianist Andreas Haefliger and flutist Marina Piccinini and the German Petersen Quartet. Star names of non-European music were Japanese sho-player Mayumi Miata and Korean pansori-singer Su-Sho Ahn.

The advance ticket sale already foreboded increasing audience figures, which ended up in a new record again – 45.000. Thus, also the festival budget of 4,5 million FIM could be balanced, regardless of devaluation of the Finnish mark, the decreasing state support and extra costs such as the rent of the Arts Centre.


“The 25th Jubilee of the Kuhmo Chamber Music was a success both artistically and as far as attendance figures are concerned”, said Artistic Director Seppo Kimanen when the Festival ended. “The themes were complementary to each other and revealed new features about Beethoven, Sibelius, Finnish contemporary music and Paris between the World Wars. The number of audience reached about 40.000”.

The Kuhmo Arts Centre was used for the second summer. So, there were no “first night” pressures like the previous year. The concert halls of the Kuhmo Chamber Music complement each other perfectly. The atmosphere at the old Kontio school is like in a home concert. The musicians are close to the audience and listeners sit on equally uncomfortable plastic chairs. As to the Kuhmo Arts Centre, it offers splendid facilities for demanding art making both acoustically, operationally and visually. The Kuhmo Church has always been appreciated for its atmosphere and acoustical qualities. Particularly the Beethoven quartets were well suited to the acoustics of the church.

There were more commission works at the Festival than any other year. Although there was very little rehearsing time in some cases, the works and performances turned out to be special events in the history of Kuhmo Chamber Music. The commission works of the Festival were Piano Quintet by Mikko Heiniö, String Quartet no. 4 by Jouni Kaipainen, Duo for Flute and Cello “Tango in my mind” by Ilkka Kuusisto and Sextet by Aarre Merikanto once destroyed by the composer and now completed by Paavo Heininen. Also “Angel of Dusk” by Einojuhani Rautavaara, “Twitching Gait” by Juhani Nuorvala and string quartets by Veli-Matti Puumala and Osmo Räihälä were heard as first performances. An enormous job was made by the New Helsinki Quartet, which now made the final break through not only nationally but hopefully also internationally. Two first performances were played by the quartet and the young musicians were rewarded by a storm of applause.

“At least as far as chamber music is concerned we can forget about talks of recession in Finnish culture. Never in the history of Finnish music life have we had so many young, talented musicians who are fully competitive with the world tops” said Seppo Kimanen.

Because of the Jubilee, the musicians of the Festival numbered as high as about 300 including groups of varying sizes. A youth choir comprising 100 young singers came from Kitakuyshu, Japan. Virtuosi di Kuhmo and a youth orchestra from Santa Monica, USA, performed at the Festival as well.

As many as nine string quartets performed at the Festival, i.e. the legendary Borodin, the Czech Prazak and the German Neues Leipziger Quartets as well as one of the prominent forces of the Kuhmo Festival, Jean Sibelius Quartet. Further, the Carmina, Georgia, Russo, Transilvania and New Helsinki Quartets offered the Kuhmo audience top class chamber music performances.

Some of the individual artists were old friends, such as violinists Peter Csaba, Mi-Kyung Lee, Michaela Martin, Pavel Vernikov and Thomas Zehetmair, violists Matti Hirvikangas and Vladimir Mendelssohn, cellists Robert Cohen, Jan-Erik Gustafsson, Frans Helmersson, Mihail Hussla and Martti Rousi, flutists Petri Alanko, Patrick Gallois and trumpeter Stephen Burns. Pianists Grigori Sokolov, Eero Heinonen and Juhani Lagerspetz whom we know from previous festivals performed also this year. Jonathan Gilad and Albert Kim, both brilliant young talents from the previous year’s Forum for Young Pianists, were among the festival artists.

Interesting new acquaintances were among others French harpist Fabrice Pierre, Japanese violinist Asako Urushihara, Austrian violinist Ernst Kovacic, British oboist Nicholas Daniel, French bassoonist Pascal Gallois and Russian pianist Mihail Lidsky. The appearance of dancer Katri Soini – the Young Artist of the Year of Finland Festivals – added zest to the Jubilee. The vocal side was represented by singers Lena Hoel, Tom Krause, Johanna Tuomi and Raili Viljakainen and jazz by Heikki Sarmanto and Juhani Aaltonen.

The Festival has also always brought something of the non-European music tradition to Kuhmo. In 1994 Ensemble of the Chulalongkorn University from Thailand and north Indian singer Sher Jung Bahadur Singh were representatives of Asian cultural tradition.

In keeping with tradition a Festival Ball was arranged to celebrate the silver jubilee. It was sent on TV live by the Finnish commercial television company MTV3. The Finnish TV1 produced a half an hour documentary on the Festival jointly with the German ARTE. Also the Swedish TV and the Thai TV were in Kuhmo. The marathon concert “25 Years – 25 Chamber Music Masterpieces” was broadcast directly by the Finnish Broadcasting Company and several concerts were recorded on tape.

A book “The Kuhmo Spirit” was published in Finnish, English and Japanese to celebrate the 25 years of the Festival. Exhibitions offered Photos by Stefan Bremer, Graphic Designs by Pekka Lehtinen, Films by Virke Lehtinen and Display of String Instruments.

The budget for the Festival including music camp was 4.7 million FIM.


The 26th summer of Kuhmo Chamber Music focused on two prominent composers in their time, Franz Schubert and Dmitri Shostakovich. The Festival offered all significant chamber music works from Franz Schubert including vocal music and the entire chamber music production of Dmitri Shostakovich. The morning concerts mainly consisted of music by J.S. Bach and Henry Purcell and the afternoon and evening concerts of Slavic music. “The programme gives us a distinct indication that the EU Finland is situated in the sphere of cultural influences from both east and west”, says Artistic Director Seppo Kimanen.

What was new this year was the system of two artistic directors. Pianist, professor Ralf Gothóni was responsible for the Schubert theme and the rest of the programme was planned by Artistic Director Seppo Kimanen. Their collaboration was working extremely well.

Two works commissioned by the Festival were heard in Kuhmo, i.e. “Una fantasia” for string quartet and piano by Erik Bergman and “Chant Chains” by Veli-Matti Puumala the latter being a joint commission with the German Ensemblia-95 Festival. “Chant Chains” was composed for and performed by Musikfabrik, a German ensemble specializing in contemporary music. “Ruoko”, an experimental composition for violin and light effects by Heikki Mesterton had its first performance at the Festival. The violin part was played by Erkki Palola and the composer was on light effects.

The programme including close to one hundred events was carried through without difficulty. The Sine Nomine Quartet, which cancelled their appearance at the Festival, was replaced by other Festival quartets. The replacement of countertenor Derek Lee Ragin would have been far more difficult, had the Finnish bass Matti Salminen – one of the stars of the Savonlinna Opera Festival – not been available. His short surprise visit to Kuhmo proved artistically rewarding and was one of the high points of the Festival.

Another pleasant surprise of the summer was the Talvela Award presented to the educational work of Kuhmo Chamber Music. “The award is an acknowledgement which motivates us to continue our efforts”, said Seppo Kimanen. A brilliant example of the results in this field was the successful appearance of Virtuosi di Kuhmo at the Festival.

The most far-away visitors came from Japan. Kanzaki Hidejo came with her Jiuta mai group to Kuhmo and the enchanting performances of the group charmed the audience like the first time they visited the Festival. Other by-themes were jazz, played by Perko Pyysalo Poppoo, and tango rhythms, performed by the In Time Quintet.

An interesting detail in the programme was the Kafka fragments for soprano and violin by György Kurtág, the Hungarian composer who has visited Kuhmo a couple of times. The work was interpreted by Anu Komsi and Sakari Oramo.

Like in many previous years, approximately one half of the artists were newcomers and the others had appeared in Kuhmo once or more. Eight string quartets were present, the highly esteemed Borodin Quartet celebrating its 50th year as a quartet. The Chilingirian Quartet, well known to all of us, appeared at the Festival after a couple of years again.

An official debut was made in Kuhmo by Kerberos, an ensemble of Finnish top musicians Petri Alanko, Kari Kriikku, Esko Laine, Esa Tapani, Jorma Valjakka and the members of the New Helsinki Quartet.

A totally new line was co-operation with The Live Poets’ Society, which brought leading Finnish poets to Kuhmo. They recited poems at 22 p.m. at the Kontio school hall, at the Kuhmo Arts Centre or – when the weather conditions allowed – out by lake Lammasjärvi.

A novelty was also Meet the Artist in the afternoon at the Kontio school hall. Interviewed by Tuulikki Karjalainen, the artists told about their work and answered the questions made by the audience.

After a few years’ absence Mrs. Tuulikki Karjalainen is back again as Executive Director of the Festival. The audience numbered 42.000. The high number of attendants was an essential factor in balancing the festival budget of 5 million FIM.

“In my opinion, the Festival has now reached an artistic level which gives us motivation to visit big music centres to show not only what we can do but also to expose ourselves to criticism. Thus the artistic level and the programming technique can further be developed. We go to London in October and later on – within an interval of, say, a couple of years – perhaps Paris, Berlin, New York or Tokyo will follow”, said Artistic Director Seppo Kimanen, when the Festival ended.


“This has been a busy festival for the artists and for me a great joy”, said Seppo Kimanen, the Artistic Director of Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival, when the Festival of the year 1996 was approaching its end.

“The artistic themes were functioning in the way I wished. It was interesting to see how Joseph Haydn inspired W.A. Mozart and vice versa, which became evident in the alternate performances of music by Haydn and Mozart. Robert Schumann and Johannes Brahms were the other pair of composers and it was exciting to notice how distinctly they differ from each other. They both reformed the western music language, although in different ways. For example, the interpretations of Peter Csaba have strongly emphasized the Hungarian influence that has labelled Brahms but which is totally missing from the music by Schumann. The music by Haydn showed new sides through the magnificent quartet cycle we heard at the Festival and through the excellent interpretations of the Lindsay Quartet in particular.

Unfortunately, the clarinet quintet commissioned from Polish composer Henryk Gorecki was not finished in time, but the clarinet quintet commissioned from Pawel Szymanski had its first performance in Kuhmo and made a fine addition to the chamber music literature. The composer was present at the first performance. The piano quintet by Haridas Greif had been postponed a couple of times, but it had its first performance in Kuhmo this summer. It is an enormous work of one hour, extremely demanding for the performers, but it was an enriching experience for the audience.

As to young Finnish composers, Seppo Pohjola has only written some ten works but already proved a promising young talent. His piano quartet was heard in Kuhmo for the first time. Jukka Linkola is known as versatile jazz musician and film composer, but he has also written plenty of music to classical music ensembles. His first string quartet which now had its first performance, was commissioned by the Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival.

Further, the Festival offered last chorale preludes by Johannes Brahms, arranged by the Italian Giovanni Bietti for the Finnish ensemble Kerberos. Vladimir Mendelssohn had composed a work inspired by the Paganini caprices, not written for a solo instrument but a big chamber music orchestra.

Also word has come to Kuhmo. The Live Poets’ Club started in 1995 and continued this summer. Further, poems by Finnish poet Uuno Kailas were interpreted by singer Vesa-Matti Loiri accompanied by the group Perko-Pyysalo Poppoo. Based on an idea of the actress Liisi Tandefelt, the Festival offered her one-woman reading and music performance “Music Above All“, i.e. texts by great writers accompanied by piano music.

Due to the central position of string quartet on the programme a great many excellent chamber ensembles appeared at the Festival: among others the beloved Lindsay Quartet, the first prize winner of the London String Quartet Competition, the Vellinger Quartet, as well as the second prize winner, the New Helsinki Quartet. Also the winner of the Australia Competition, the Norwegian Vertavo Quartet appeared at the Festival.

“Over 150 more or less famous names belonged to the artistic staff of the Festival. I don’t want to mention any individual instrumentalist, but all of them were equally important for the Festival”, said Seppo Kimanen. “A chamber music festival is based on co-operation and ensembles rather than performances of individual artists. The starting point for Kuhmo Chamber Music is good music, good programming and good performances. I hope that also this year, our choice of artists did not prove to be a disappointment to anyone.”

In addition to close to 80 concerts, the Festival offered plenty of supplementary programme. The music camp had over 200 participants from all over the world. An art exhibition of Ulla Rantanen at the Kuhmo Arts Centre, a Photographic Exhibition of Stefan Bremer and an Ex Libris Exhibition at the Chamber Music Centre were all part of the Festival.

The Chamber Music Centre is a new exciting project for the Festival. The idea is to establish a round-the-year centre, where the history of the Festival is available for the public and researchers. Hopefully, it will become a meeting place full of activities and events. Amati Café and Salakamari, a “bierstube” and wine bar, are part of the Chamber Music Centre. The audience found the Centre and its cosy atmosphere. The Festival budget amounted to approximately 5 million FIM including the music camp. Now that the audience numbered nearly 41.300, the budget was kept in balance.


Venice, Beethoven and America were the themes of the 28th festival which was filled with controversies, surprises and interesting discoveries. In its versatility this festival was the most extensive project in the history of the Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival: 95 concerts and 250 musicians on the same budget of 5 million Finnish marks. Luckily, the inexperienced summer heat did not tempt the music-lovers out of the concert halls – on the contrary, the public filled the halls up to the expectations and the box office yield served as a guarantee for keeping the tight budget in balance. Once again Seppo Kimanen promised to plan a smaller festival next year.

The American chamber music was presented in Kuhmo through the music of more than 70 contemporary composers and over 90 works which were for the most part composed during the last 20 years. It became clear during the festival that The United States is an interesting country whose art music combines freely music which originates from different ethnic cultures and opens views to the new millennium.

The American theme had urged many leading American artists to head to Kuhmo. Ursula Oppens, Carol Wincenc, Douglas Webster, Janice Chandler, Lucy Shelton, Charles Neidich, William Purvis, Elissa Lee Kokkonen, The Zeitgeist Group, The Lions Gate Trio and many others guaranteed both high-level and authentic interpretations of American chamber music.

Venice was present in the festival programme through an impressive succession of Claudio Monteverdi’s and Antonio Vivaldi’s music. The Monteverdi concerts were planned and conducted by Andrew Laurence-King, The Virtuosi di Kuhmo under the conduction of Peter Csaba performed all twelve concerti grossi L’estro armonico and a Hungarian group Concerto Armonico sacred music some of which quite unknown in Finland. The Venice String Quartet brought to Kuhmo string quartets of Gian Malipiero and Luigi Boccherini.

Out of the music by Ludwig van Beethoven this time we heard his works for the piano and piano ensembles performed by outstanding pianists coming to Kuhmo from different corners of the world.

Every year The Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival has commissioned new works from Finnish composers. The String Quintet by Einojuhani Rautavaara was played by Jan-Erik Gustafsson and Jean Sibelius Quartet and The String Quartet by Kimmo Hakola by The New Helsinki Quartet. American composer Jorge Martin heard his new Bassoon Quintet here played for the first time by Jussi Särkkä and The New Helsinki Quartet.

The musical life in Finland has experienced a huge rise in the international respect and Finland has sent out to the world musicians one more talented than the other. Among the Finnish musicians we heard this year, for example Margareta Haverinen, Mikael Helasvuo, Paavali Jumppanen, Päivi Järviö, Raija Kerppo, Jaakko and Pekka Kuusisto, Juhani Lagerspetz, Esko Laine, The Robin Quartet and The Battalia Ensemble.

From other parts of Europe and Asia came , for example, Natalia Gutman, Aleksei Lubimov, Vladimir Mendelssohn, Konstantin Bogino, Peter Frankl, Fabrice Pierre, Patrick Gallois, Shauna Rolston, David Kim, Susan Tomes, Elisabeth Batiašvili, Tsuyoshi Tsutsumi, Mira Wang, Ik-Hwan Bae, Ian Honeyman, Harry van der Kamp and The Amati, Bartók and Pellegrini Quartets.


“Thematically this year´s festival was very successful. It was very well received by the audience and the artistic level was perhaps more consistent than ever before”, said the Artistic Director Seppo Kimanen about the 29th Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival. “The greatest surprise for me was the theme History of the String Quartet turning so popular among the public that the church was literally filled every morning. This deep, difficult, and sensitive genre of music making is very often thought to be appreciated only by a devoted few, but this year´s festival showed clearly that The Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival´s audience is truly able to seek and understand the profound and permanent values in music. This year´s theme for string quartet presented works from a 230 year period which gave a good overview on the essential history of western music.”

The Brazilian theme attracted both listeners and Brasilian musicians. The programme included music which was previously unknown even to them and they highly appreciated it being presented in Kuhmo. Some of them said that they certainly heard more Brazilian art music here in Kuhmo during the two week festival than would have been possible in a year in Brazil. As far as we know it was the first time ever to have the possibility to hear all 17 string quartets of the highly productive and magnificient Brasilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos.

The music from The Romantic Period in Paris was played to large and enthusiastic audiences and showed the important role music of that period has in French chamber music repertoire. Artistically it was a most powerful and persuasive presentation on this genre.

Even before the festival´s beginning it was evident that the Series of Solo Piano Recitals, organized for the very first time in the festival´s 29-year history, was a timely and popular theme. In the earlier years solo recitals have been organised occasionally, and now the series presented each day some notable pianist like Grigori Sokolov.

The captivated listeners enjoyed the late piano trios, string quartets, songs and chamber orchestra works of Haydn´s London Years in the late evening concerts and agreed that it was a good way of finishing the day´s musical menu in a spirited and harmonious manner.

This year there were less modern music in the programme than usually. We heard two commissioned works, a quartet for piano, clarinet, violin and cello by Jaakko Kuusisto, and a work by Akikazu Nakamura for the Japanese shakuhachi flute and a string quartet. Both works were musically very interesting and evokoed admiration.

After some renovations made in the Amati Cafe and Salakamari during the winter the Chamber Music Centre formed a cosy cafe and pub milieu where it was possible to listen to the presentations of the day´s programme in the morning, and either Brasilian jazz or Finnish poetry and music at the end of the day. Juha Berglund brought about delicious lunches and suppers and served wines from his own vineyard to the visitors´ delight.

There were over 150 artists performing on the festival and due to the themes of the year there vere as much as 11 string quartets around. The pianos in Kuhmo were also in heavy use as 18 pianists were in a need for an instrument. The Brasilian theme brought noteworthy Brasilian musicians to Kuhmo and a colourful Finnish samba group.

As a prelude to the festival an International Duo Competition was organised for the first time. The winners were Rafal Kwiatkowski and Grzegorz Gorczyca, a cello–piano duo from Poland.

“I am really happy that the overall audience numbering up to 44.700 visitors seemed very satisfied”, said Seppo Kimanen. “This strengthens our trust in the vitality of the festival and gives me new motivation for planning the programme for the next year’s jubilee.”


The 20th century’s last Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival broke records in many ways. The event’s 30th anniversary started in the midst of exceptional summer heat and ended breaking earlier records of concert visitors. In between Seppo Kimanen was made a professor and 30 candles were blown on the world’s largest rönttönen ever in the anniversary concert. All in all, the festival passed in stately terms with its more than 200 musicians and a hundred concerts.

In the Festival’s 30th anniversary concert the artistic director Seppo Kimanen was handed an open letter from the President of Finland granting him an honorary title of a professor. Mr. Kimanen received the honour on behalf of the whole Kuhmo Festival stating that without joint efforts of many different talents for a common goal this kind of acknowledgement would have never come across to him.

The programme of the celebrating festival was far from retrospective: on the contrary, the programme showed what has become of Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival by relying on high quality, abundant programme and appeal of the music itself. ”The biggest difference between the 1st and 30th Chamber Music Festival is in the professional skills”, said Seppo Kimanen who swore in the early years after every festival that it was the final one. Nevertheless, this year we found Tuulikki Karjalainen, Yoshiko Arai and Seppo Kimanen still going strong in the same business for the 30th time. It is quite a miracle which shows that the basic concept has worked out and the energy within the performed music has been transmitted to the musicians, listeners and to the organisers.

The musical themes of the festival included J. S. Bach’s chamber works, 20th century Finnish chamber music, the whole opus of Brahms’ chamber works and a chamber music hit parade forming a well-balanced musical menu for the fortnight. It was delightful to find out the wide interest the public showed in the contemporary Finnish composers. Five chamber music works had their first performances during the festival: Kalevi Aho’s clarinet quintet, a piece for solo flute by Kaija Saariaho, Eero Hämeenniemi’s Fantasia for viola da gamba and two string quartets in the Leevi Madetoja style, commissioned from Paavo Heininen.

It has been a tradition to celebrate every 5th anniversary with a dance ball. This time the ball took place in the Kontio School Hall with music played by Cornel Vasile Pantir’s band and the Salon Ensemble Sonanti. The 30th anniversary concert, which was sold out early in winter, was held in the Lentua Hall at the same time.

From the very start the Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival has been known and acknowledged for the work it has done among the upcoming generation of musicians. This year there were 130 young people attending the music camp and thanks to a separate artistic leadership a significant development of the camp’s functions was achieved. A promising form of collaboration with the festival was the chamber music workshop with its concerts, which were not only successful artistically but also gathered a good lot of public.

An international trio competition was organised on the two preceding days before the festival. The trio competition was open for string and piano trios and among the highly skilled ensembles the first prize was awarded to The Bogányi Kelemen Trio.

The 30th anniversary festival gathered a record-breaking public. The previous record from 1993, reaching up to 47.000 was clearly hit and those 49.300 listeners who attended the concerts this year were at great help in balancing the budget of the festival. The festival did well also from the organisational point of view and showed once again how it has grown from a modest start achieving gradually its present international acclaim.