Helsinki Festival (Helsingin juhlaviikot)

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Country and Region FinlandSouthern Finland
Type of Festival Drama, Music
Location of Festival Helsinki, Southern Finland, Finland
Festival Contact Information

Helsinki Festival
Mannerheimintie 22-24
00100 Helsinki, Finland
Phone: (358) 9-6126-5100
Fax: (358) 9-6126-5161

Festival Description

In late summer, Finland’s largest arts festival will be treating audiences to an exciting line up of world premiers and mega productions as well as the chance to see a number of artists on their debut visit to Finland. The festival also extends an invitation to audiences to make their own contribution across a number of participatory art works and projects.

”We take great joy and pride in presenting to you this exciting programme, simply bursting with spectacular performances and genuine cultural highlights. Audiences this year will be able to enjoy world class performers and visitors from distant lands, ponder hot topics and eternal questions and attend mass events and intimate gatherings – the makings of a real festival,” said Erik Söderblom, Helsinki Festival Director.

New circus is strongly represented in the 2012 Helsinki Festival programme. Cirque Éloize, one of the world’s largest new circus troupes, will premiere their latest production in Helsinki. A rich programme of dance sees the Italian choreographer Emio Greco and the Dutch dramatist Pieter C. Scholten arriving in Finland. Spiders gather in Kunsthalle Helsinki for the Argentinean-born Tomás Saraceno’s exhibition.

In one of the most impressive Helsinki Festival productions ever in terms of its sheer scale, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Peter Sellars and Bill Viola have joined forces to create a visualised production of Wagner’s well-loved opera Tristan & Isolde and arrive in Helsinki accompanied by a high-calibre ensemble. Another big-name visitor this year is the Leipzig-based Gewandhaus Orchestra, conducted by Riccardo Chailly.

In keeping with the long-running Helsinki Festival tradition, the Huvila Festival Tent will see performances every night of the festival run, with many performers, ranging from rising stars to genuine legends, making their Finnish debuts. Luminous women appearing at the venue include, for example, singer-songwriter Madeleine Peyroux and unique vocal stylings of Zap Mama.

Festival Dates August 16 - September 1, 2013
Festival Links

Festival Events:

Performing arts lineup 2013:
  • Circus
    • Helsinki Festival continues to bring the very best in international contemporary circus to the Finnish capital. James Thiérrée’s Raoul, a fun-for-the-whole-family extravaganza, incorporates acrobatics, comedy and magic, while the French Cie Non Nova ensemble will be juggling with the help of gusts of air in their two productions, the arresting Vortex, and L’après-midi d’un Foehn (A foehn afternoon), aimed at children.
  • Dance
    • This year’s dance programme is headlined by the Berlin-based Sasha Waltz. Her creative breakthrough production, the monumental Körper, is an exploration of the human body. Festival audiences will also be treated to Kenneth Kvarnström’s new production Come back (to me) and choreographer Maija Hirvanen will be staging a series of arts walking tours, titled Walkapolis. The dance programme is further enhanced by Kiss & Cry, a film shot in real time in front of a live audience. In Kiss & Cry the lead roles are played by a set of highly expressive fingers.
  • Theatre
    • The theatre programme includes an appearance by one of Europe’s most highly respected directors, the grand old man of German theatre, Frank Castorf. He arrives in Helsinki this August with his experimental Volksbühne theatre company in tow. Der Spieler, their absurd, Dostoyevsky’s Gambler-inspired production lays bare a society ridden with capitalism. Castorf is a pioneer of on-stage video technology.
    • In Helsinki Festival’s smash hit Art at home series Tellervo Kalleinen and Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen join forces with a group of volunteers who will be opening up their homes to festival audiences. Family goes home explores family stories and memories. 
Classical Music lineup 2013:
  • Orchestras
    • Helsinki Festival will be presenting a number of leading world orchestras to Finnish audiences this summer. In a June pre-festival teaser, the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra will be performing in the city, led by Venezuelan conductor Gustavo Dudamel. During the festival proper, ”the world’s top orchestra”, the Amsterdam-based Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, will be making an appearance. On the festival’s closing night, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment will be taking to the stage at the Helsinki Music Centre, conducted by Sir Roger Norrington. Finally, in late October, Helsinki audiences will be treated to French Baroque music courtesy of Les Arts Florissants the leading experts of the era.
  • Special Guest - Philip Glass
    • This year’s Helsinki Festival special guest is Philip Glass, perhaps the most powerful composer of our time. Glass’s debut visit to Finland is marked with a tailored in-focus series comprising a retrospective concert, a piano solo and an orchestral screening of his cult feature Koyaanisqatsi.
  • Classical Music
    • Viktoria Mullova, a favourite of Finnish classical music audiences, and her partner, cellist Matthew Barley, are this year’s Helsinki Festival Ateljee series special guests. They will be appearing together and separately at classical music venues as well as in the more relaxed surroundings of the Huvila Festival Tent. Mullova will also be taking to the stage in a joint performance with Kent Nagano and the RSO.
  • Vocal Music
    • Vocal music is represented on the programme by a production of Richard Strauss’s rarely performed Daphne, with Soile Isokoski in the title role. The production marks the 50th anniversary of the Finnish National Opera. Daphne will be conducted by Susanna Mälkki, who also takes to the stage in another Helsinki Festival production alongside students from New York City’s Juilliard School of Music and Helsinki’s Sibelius Academy. This opera and film hybrid sees the new generation professionals seeking fresh forms of expression using the latest technological advances.
  • Ensemble Music
    • Pekka Kuusisto’s new quartet-lab ensemble kicks off their European tour at Helsinki Festival. Kuusisto has also thrown his creative energies behind the festival’s Reddress series of events, featuring ten evenings of unforgettable music, dance and oratory delivered by a fascinating roll call of performers all wearing an voluminous dress designed by Aamu Song.
  • Indie Music
    • Legeds, world music and fresh indie talent at Huvila. Headlining at the Huvila Festival tent are art rock mega stars Yoko Ono and Thurston Moore, scheduled to make two appearances at the festival. Another high profile event sees trumpeter, singer and legendary Afro jazz pioneer Hugh Masekela giving his first performance in Finland for a quarter of a century. The Huvila season kicks off with British funk outfit Anthony Joseph and The Spasm Band. Indie is very much on the agenda throughout the festival as the London-based soulstress Lianne La Havas, prog and gospel artist Matthew E. White and the Carolina Chocolate Drops with their distinctive and of-the-moment blend of folk and Deep South melancholy, swing into town.
  • World Music
    • In keeping with tradition, Huvila will be serving up a generous helping of world music, with this year’s roll call of names including such treats as the African Mokoomba, French Lo-Jo, Fado crooner Antonio Zambujo and Spain’s sell out megastar Bebe. Home grown specials include a Kallio-themed musical and literary evening on the Night of the Arts on 22 August as well as a tribute concert celebrating the legendary Finnish Love Records label.
Artist feature 2013:
  • Mokoomba (Zimbabwe)
    • Formed in 2007, Mokoomba is made up of six Zimbabwean dudes, hailing from Victoria Falls. The locals are part of a minority group, which speaks Tonga, different to the nation’s main languages. Yet their music has brought together so many disparate nationalities, in the players and in the songs, that the 2012 LP, Rising Tide, is a very African album.
      Mokoomba create a distinct hybrid of modern and traditional sounds, embracing Latin rhythms along the way. Lead singer Mathias Muzaza was born to Angolan and Zambian parents and gathered together the songs and sounds of southern Africa through his travels. Guitarist Trustworth Samende helps flesh out the music with lines reminiscent of Oliver Mtukudzi. Abundance Matori is on bass, Donald Moyo is on keys, Ndaba Coster Moyo is on drums and Miti Mugande on percussion. All of the players sing backing vocals. It was in 2008 when the group was launched to fame on the back of a stellar performance at the Music Crossroads InterRegional Festival in Malawi. Mokoomba recorded a debut album Kweseka, and undertook a European tour in 2009, to strong notices, necessitating a return in the following year. The celebrated Manou Gallo (The Ivory Coast) produced the album Rising Tide, which made many Best Of 2012 lists. She also played keyboards and brought in more than a dozen guest musos. The challenge for the members of Mokoomba now is to maintain their energy and a true band sound, without being too influenced by outsiders.
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Photo slideshow credits:
  • In order of appearance
    • Allen Toussaint at Helsinki Festival. Photo credit, Sasa Tkalcan
    • Doina Klezmer outdoor concert at Helsinki Festival. Photo credit, Hanna Käyhkö
    • Rinneradio, photo by Sasa Tkalcan
    • Blitz The Ambasador, photo by Simo Karisalo
    • MA Numminen at Helsinki Festival. Photo credit, Simo Karisalo
    • Mahagonny at Helsinki Festival. Photo credit, Simo Karisalo
    • Von Hertzen Brothers at Helsinki Festival. Photo credit, Simo Karisalo
    • Sungsoo Ahn Pickup Group and Ville Walo, photo by Sasa Tkalcan
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