First off, the program in Bromarv, a small, picturesque village by the sea in South-western coast of Finland on August 24: what a joy to play Finnish music in Finland, with Finnish people. Even such a small thing as rehearsing in my native tongue was a true delight! The two composers, Jean Sibelius and his student Leevi Madetoja represent a great time in Finnish musical life. Sibelius created the Finnish National Romantic style and bridges the historical periods between the Russian rule in Finland and independence (1917), to date the most important period of history in shaping the Finnish national identity. We played two piano trios, Sibelius' Trio no.3 "Hafträsk", a yet unpublished work S. wrote before starting his formal composition studies in Helsinki, and Madetoja's Trio Op.1, a work that M. wrote immediately after entering his formal studies with S. The story goes that S. said "I think you should write a piano trio", and then promptly left for France for months. Playing these two works back to back was quite illuminating. The duets in the program, Sibelius' Sonatina for Violin and Piano, and Madetoja's Lyric Suite for Cello and Piano packed an equal punch, and I was very happy with the journey we took playing this program!
Thanks to the UM Residential College, and the UM Scandinavian Program Folke Gräsbeck and Päivikki Nykter are going to be visiting artists at UM this November. We will be presenting Finnish National Romantic chamber music at the Kerrytown Concert House on Tuesday Nov.13th at 8pm.
On August 28 and 19, we played two concerts with the title "Iltamusiikkia Ukko-Paavon hengessä" in the wonderful old Pielavesi church and the Männistö church in Kuopio, with our dear friends (and family) Tero and Marjatta Airas, as well as some very excellent cellists, Timo Torma, Tuomas Untamala and Heidi Miettunen, for the Kuopio Chamber Music Society. The programs were highly conceptual in that all music was spiritual in one sense or another - hymn arrangements, Spirituals, newly composed pieces using text from the Bible. The carrying idea was connected to the "awakened" religious sect that my family has followed for generations, and the Finnish-American experience. In a sense playing the concert also connected to my roots in a very deep level: being reminded of family (who have been priests for many generations, and in Finland counted as "minor-nobility") and all that such a connection implies. I just had an e-mail from Tero telling me that they will repeat the performances in November in Suonenjoki and Nilsia, so if you're near there go hear some good music played by some good people!