The above is part of a poster about a wonderful event we attended on Sunday (Feb.8th) at the Scandinavian Centre in Burnaby. It was organized and presented by members of our local chapter of The Canadian Friends of Finland. Most interesting and educational was the talk and slide show about Sibelius’ early life, which is generally less well-known. Bob Poutt told us about Glenda Goss, an American musicologist who went to Finland to research Sibelius’ life and music, eventually publishing Sibelius: A Composer’s Life and the Awakening of Finland. She learned Finnish and became a professor at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki. Somehow I had missed a lecture by Ms.Goss at the Centre in March, 2013.
Mr. Poutt’s young grandsons acted out delightful scenes of a young Sibelius being interviewed by a reporter, set against a slide show. The audience was charmed.
The Centre’s excellent long-running Runeberg Chorus performed many songs by Sibelius, in English, Finnish and Swedish (Sibelius’ first language). Two wonderful solos were the highlights, Diamond on the March Snow sung by tenor Yasushi Ishimura and Luonnotar by Kaoru Henry, each with glorious visuals on the background screen. Our favourite was the latter thanks to the singer’s professional operatic voice. Luonnotar is based on Finnish mythology, the words coming from the Kalevala. The text is from the first part of the Kalevala and deals with the creation of the world, Luonnotar is the Spirit of Nature and Mother of the Seas.
It was a moving program and a wonderful afternoon of friendship as we were surprised by how many friends were there. Congratulations to all the organizers and performers! I wonder who did the superb visuals for the slide show?
I am so inspired that I hope to get my hands on the book, in fact I put in a purchase request for it at our library. Jean Sibelius was part of a group of many artists, poets and writers who are all Finland’s greatest creators. This 150th Anniversary is being widely celebrated in Finland and beyond with numerous concerts, but only one that we know of here in Vancouver – we must request more.
Of course there are many recordings available for purchase as well as online listening available, such as at Finland’s YLE Radio, where I’ve been slowly enjoying his seven symphonies. The first three highlighted on the page are performances by the Radio Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Sakari Oramo and presented in 2006 in Bergen, Norway. Just below these is a link to Symphonies 4 to 7, also by the above except for No. 5 performed in Helsinki. Enjoy!
Yle also has a site Sibelius 150 mostly in Finnish but with some pages in English (scroll down). Even further down is also an audio interview of Glenda Goss in English. (I wish the individual articles were hyperlinked.) I’ve only just discovered this so will be busy reading these articles!
I must also mention an excellent blog which I’ve been enjoying reading for some time. Dust of Hue is devoted entirely to Sibelius, written by a serious and knowledgeable fan who lives in Singapore I think. He has even visited Sibelius’ home Ainola.