In honour of the 150th anniversary of Jean Sibelius’s birth, the Lahti Symphony Orchestra organized its annual Sibelius Festival on a grander scale than usual – a week in all, from 31st August to 6th September 2015, during which more than twenty concerts and events took place. At this, musically the most extensive worldwide Sibelius occasion in his jubilee year, the performers at the Sibelius Hall included not only the Lahti Symphony Orchestra but also the BBC Symphony Orchestra from London and the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra.
The Sibelius Festival was held for the sixteenth time this year. Concerts took place at the Sibelius Hall and the Lahti Music Institute’s Kalevi Aho Hall, and a total of 8,200 tickets were sold. Including associated events, the number of visitors to the festival exceeded 12,000 in total.
More than 40 % of tickets to international visitors and journalists from all over the world
Over the years the Lahti Symphony Orchestra’s Sibelius Festival has attracted the interest of the public and journalists internationally, and in this respect too the 2015 Festival set a new record. Around 40% of ticket sales went to overseas visitors, with members of the audience (both individuals and groups) coming from, for example, the USA, Australia, Canada, South Korea, Japan, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Switzerland, Spain, Belgium, Norway and Sweden. Press representatives were in attendance from countries including Austria, the USA, Japan, China, Mexico, the Netherlands, Russia, Great Britain, South Africa, Israel and Turkey.
The Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE transmitted the orchestral concerts on the radio and online (with a live video link: yle.fi/klassinen). On Wednesday 9th September at 7 pm on YLE Radio 1, the Saturday orchestral concert was broadcast again (Lahti Symphony Orchestra / Kamu), and the festival’s concerts and numerous interviews can be found online at the YLE Areena website. In addition, the concerts will be available on the Classiclive.com website.
The Lahti Symphony Orchestra’s 16th International Sibelius Festival, 31st August – 6th September 2015
At the total of six orchestral concerts at the 2015 Sibelius Festival, the conductors were Okko Kamu (the festival’s artistic director), Osmo Vänskä, Jukka-Pekka Saraste, Sakari Oramo and Leif Segerstam. The programmes presented the majority of Sibelius’s essential orchestral output, including all seven symphonies, Kullervo, the Violin Concerto, Lemminkäinen and numerous other symphonic poems. As well as orchestral concerts, there were chamber concerts and other Sibelius-themed events, including a total of eight pre-concert talks, six in English and two in Finnish.
New perspectives on Sibelius’s music were offered by a series of ‘Alternative Sibelius’ club concerts organized in collaboration with the Arts Promotion Centre Finland – on three evenings at Lahti’s Jazz Club Metro and on Thursday evening after the orchestral concert at the Sibelius Hall. The festival also offered themed excursions to Töyrylä Manor in Artjärvi and to Ainola and the Aino Sibelius Exhibition in Järvenpää. The Sibelius Festival Express bus link from the centre of Helsinki direct to the Sibelius Hall and back operated on five concert evenings.
A Sibelius jubilee exhibition organized by the Lahti Symphony Orchestra opened on Monday 31st August 2015, and will be open during the autumn in the Forest Hall at the Sibelius Hall.
In conjunction with the festival two awards were also presented. The Spirit of Nature Wood Architecture Award – awarded this year for the eighth time by the Wood in Culture Association – was presented to Mika Airaksela. The Asko Avonius Design Prize, awarded by the Asko Foundation, was won by the interior designer Samuli Naamanka.
Sibelius Festival 2016
The Lahti Symphony Orchestra’s 17th International Sibelius Festival will take place at the Sibelius Hall in Lahti on 8th–11th September 2016. The three orchestral concerts will be conducted by the orchestra’s chief conductor and the festival’s new artistic director, Dima Slobodeniouk. Programmes for the orchestral concerts can be found at the orchestra’s website www.sinfonialahti.fi; other programmes will be announced later. Ticket sales begin on 11th January 2016; group and advance bookings can already be made in the autumn of 2015.