Karita Mattila and Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra among the guests at Lahti Symphony Orchestra’s Sibelius Festival

Karita Mattila and Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra among the guests at Lahti Symphony Orchestra’s Sibelius Festival

The Lahti Symphony Orchestra’s 20th International Sibelius Festival will take place at the Sibelius Hall in Lahti from 5–8 September 2019. The thematic concepts for this jubilee festival are songs and stories, and the festival’s artistic director is Dima Slobodeniouk, principal conductor of the Lahti Symphony Orchestra. Ticket sales begin on Monday 14 January 2019 at Lippupiste outlets and online, and from the Sibelius Hall box office.

The Lahti Symphony Orchestra will perform on Thursday 5 September and Saturday 7 September under Slobodeniouk’s baton. The Saturday orchestral concert stars soprano Karita Mattila. One of Finland’s most successful artists, Mattila will interpret a selection of Sibelius’s songs, and among the purely orchestral works in the concert is the tone poem En saga. At the festival’s opening concert on Thursday we shall hear Kullervo, with soloists soprano Marjukka Tepponen and baritone Tommi Hakala and the Polytech Choir.

Guests at this jubilee festival are the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra. This orchestra, with its impressive history of Sibelius performances, will perform at the evening orchestral concert on Friday 6 September under the renowned Danish conductor Thomas Dausgaard. This is the orchestra that premièred Sibelius’s Seventh Symphony in Stockholm in 1924 under the baton of the composer, and Sibelius conducted the orchestra on seven occasions in total. Among Dausgaard’s Sibelius performances was Kullervo for the first time in the history of the Seattle Symphony in 2018. At the Lahti concert we shall hear the composer’s Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Symphonies. The Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra’s appearance at the Sibelius Festival is made possible by financial support from the Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation.

As an innovation at this year’s festival, the Lahti Symphony Orchestra will also perform a concert named ‘Dive into the Orchestra’ in the Forest Hall at the Sibelius Hall on the afternoon of Friday 6 September. The orchestra will be conducted by Dima Slobodeniouk.

In addition to the orchestral concerts, the festival’s programme again includes chamber music and other Sibelius-themed events.

Dima Slobodeniouk: ‘Twenty-year old Sibelius Festival has established itself’

‘The Lahti Symphony Orchestra’s Sibelius Festival has reached its twentieth year and has established itself as a meeting place for friends of Sibelius’s music from all over the world’, says its artistic director Dima Slobodeniouk with satisfaction. ‘In the spirit of songs and stories, we begin the festival on Thursday powerfully with a shattering music drama, Kullervo. On Friday we welcome Nordic guests of the highest calibre, the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Thomas Dausgaard’, continues Slobodeniouk. ‘At Saturday’s orchestral concert the soprano Karita Mattila adds star quality. To mark the festival’s anniversary we are also, for the first time, including a hugely popular type of concert, “Dive into the Orchestra”, in which the audience can experience the music while sitting within the orchestra itself.’

Stefan Forsberg: ‘The first performance of Sibelius’s Seventh Symphony is one of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra’s milestones.’

‘The Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra is honoured to participate in the twentieth anniversary of the prestigious Lahti Sibelius Festival. We are delighted to play in the splendid acoustic of your fine concert hall’, says the orchestra’s manager Stefan Forsberg. ‘The orchestra has a very close relationship with Jean Sibelius, who conducted it on seven occasions in all. Naturally the première of Sibelius’s Seventh Symphony is one of the most important cornerstones in the orchestra’s 117-year history’, he continues. ‘We come to the Sibelius Hall with great humility and respect, having been granted the privilege of performing this beautiful music in front of an exceptionally knowledgeable audience, and we’ll do our best to impart the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra’s deep-rooted Sibelius tradition, which we were able to develop under the composer’s own baton.’

Performers at the chamber concerts include artists-in-residence Roozeman and Tanner

On the afternoon of Friday 6 September there is a lecture concert in the Kalevi Aho Hall at the Lahti Music Institute. It is given by the pianist Folke Gräsbeck, one of the world’s foremost Sibelius experts. Among the topics Gräsbeck will discuss and illustrate with music is the story of Sibelius’s Eighth Symphony.

At the Saturday afternoon concert in the Felix Krohn Hall of the Lahti Concert Hall we hear the cellist Jonathan Roozeman and the pianist Ossi Tanner. Both of these young performers have been artists-in-residence with the Lahti Symphony Orchestra.

The Sunday morning concert that concludes the festival features Sibelius’s choral and organ music. The Dominante choir is conducted by Seppo Murto, who also plays the organ. Pianist Folke Gräsbeck also participates.

Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra and Thomas Dausgaard

The Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, founded in 1902, performs regularly at prestigious concert halls all over the world, and has made many acclaimed and award-winning recordings. The highly respected magazine Die Welt has called it one of the best orchestras in the world. Since 2008 the orchestra’s chief conductor and artistic adviser has been Sakari Oramo. The orchestra is also well-known for its annual performances at the Nobel Prize ceremonies. It gave the first performance of Jean Sibelius’s Seventh Symphony in Stockholm in March 1924, and in all Sibelius conducted the orchestra on seven occasions.

The Danish conductor Thomas Dausgaard (b. 1963) has been principal conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Swedish Chamber Orchestra, and in the autumn of 2019 he takes up the post of musical director of the Seattle Symphony. Dausgaard makes regular guest appearances all over the world conducting orchestras such as the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic and Sydney Symphony Orchestra. He is also known for his Sibelius interpretations: for example, in the Sibelius jubilee year 2015 he played all seven symphonies with the Seattle Symphony, and in May 2018 he performed Kullervo there for the first time in the orchestra’s history. He has also recorded Sibelius’s music for violin and orchestra with the violinist Christian Tetzlaff and the Danish National Symphony Orchestra for Virgin Classics.