Helsinki Festival culminates with a concert by the joint symphony orchestra of Sibelius Academy and the Royal College of Music

Students from the University of the Arts Helsinki’s Sibelius Academy and the Royal College of Music, rated as one of the world’s top music universities, will combine their expertise for the closing concert of the Helsinki Festival on September 1, 2024 at the Music Centre’s Concert Hall.

At the Sibafest 2024 festival, the Sibelius Academy Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Sakari Oramo, performed works by Messiaen, Beethoven, and Bartók. The soloists were Sibelius Academy students: violinist Iidamari Ahonen, cellist Artturi Aalto, and pianist Tsotne Sidamonidze.

Conducted by Sibelius Academy Professor of orchestral conducting Sakari Oramo, the concert will also be performed in August at the world’s largest classical music festival, the BBC Proms, at the Royal Albert Hall in London. 

The program will feature Jean Sibelius’s Skogsrået Op. 15, Gustav Holst’s The Planets, and the BBC-commissioned work Laulut maaseudulta (Songs from the countryside) by Lara Poe, featuring soprano Anu Komsi as the soloist. 

The first half of the program explores the Finnish soundscape, with Sibelius’s lesser-known tone poem Skogsrået (The Wood Nymph) followed by Finnish-American Lara Poe’s song cycle Laulut maaseudulta, receiving its world premiere at the Proms concert in London in August. Poe’s new piece reflects on our relationship with animals and is composed specifically for Anu Komsi, channeling Nordic cattle-calling traditions known as “kulning.” 

“I had heard Komsi perform cattle calls in her previous concerts, and I was inspired by her exceptional voice. While writing this piece, I thought of my grandmother’s upbringing on a farm in Espoo. I’ve also woven other Finnish folk traditions into the work,” Poe explains. 

This year marks the 150th anniversary of Gustav Holst’s death. Holst is one of Britain’s most beloved composers, and his work The Planets, composed between 1914 and 1916, is among his most performed pieces. Its musical journey guides the audience through space, from the martial rhythms of Mars to the ethereal sounds of Neptune. 

International collaborations enhance Finland’s and the Sibelius Academy’s attractiveness 

The United Kingdom has long been an important international partner for the Sibelius Academy. Dean Emilie Gardberg notes that Finnish classical music, especially the role of conductors, already enjoys a strong position there. 

“Finland wouldn’t be a wonderland of music without international contacts. This unique collaboration demonstrates the international appeal of the Sibelius Academy. The international careers of Finnish professionals enhance the credibility of our entire country,” Gardberg rejoices. 

“Such collaboration is an excellent opportunity to influence the opportunities we can offer our students. The concerts in Helsinki and London are the highlights of our academic year, events that few organizations like ours have the opportunity to host.” 

Further information 

Orchestra Operations Manager Nina Lackman