This year the Finnish Cultural Institute for the Benelux celebrates the 150th anniversary of the birth of composer Jean Sibelius in various ways. In the programme we will highlight different sides of the composer’s work: besides symphony concerts and some of Europe’s best chamber musicians, also surprising examples will be offered on how Sibelius’s legacy has been passed on to today’s new creative talents in different fields.
Sibelius’s importance for Finland is unquestionable, but like many other artists of his time, Sibelius lived and worked foremost as a European artist on our common continent – decades before anyone could even dream about the EU, the EC or even the Benelux Union. Sibelius spent long periods of his life in Berlin, Vienna, Paris and Italy and on his concert tour in 1900 also walked the streets of Brussels, Rotterdam, Amsterdam and The Hague. Now, 150 years after his birth, his music is played all over the world and his violin concertos are the most widely performed and recorded of all the concertos composed in the 20th century.
Sibelius’s compositions have left a permanent mark on the history of music. Best known among his extensive production are his symphonies and other large-scale orchestral works, but acquaintance with his solos, choir compositions and other chamber music works is also well worthwhile. “It doesn’t matter what music you play as long as you do it well”, Sibelius is told to have remarked when he heard a relative complain about a child’s enthusiasm for jazz. The composer, who drew on folk music and different arts, left a legacy that has inspired creativity in all its diversity from one generation to another.
It has been said that Sibelius’s music does not principally reach out towards the world, depict nature and its stateliness. Instead, his works find their way to people’s innermost feelings, giving a voice to how the experience of nature moves the human soul. Nature probably was the most central source of inspiration for Sibelius. This is what we especially want to draw into attention by bringing a Jean and Aino Sibelius memorial birch from a patch of forest by Sibelius’s home, Ainola, to grow in Brussels.
Jean Sibelius died at his home on 20 September 1957. The UN General Assembly honoured him with a moment of silence and the Chairman of that assembly, Sir Leslie Munro, commemorated him with the words: “Sibelius belonged to the whole world. He enriched the life of the entire human race with his music.”
You will find the programme for the entire anniversary year at: sibelius150.org/fi
Prolific entrepreneur and senior advisor Risto Kuulasmaa has been chosen as the Institute’s new consultant in the Netherlands for autumn-spring 2018-2019
In 2018, the Finnish Cultural Institute for the Benelux together with Zodiak – center for contemporary dance, SPRING Festival Utrecht and Baltic Circle Festival, commissions a new work by choreographer Sonya Lindfors and writer-activist Maryan Abdulkarim. The work is a combination of workshops, lectures and performances, where choreographers and activists come together, imagining radical utopian common futures. Lindfors and Abdulkarim work closely together with local activists in Utrecht, Brussels and Helsinki.
This summer, BOZAR centre for fine arts opens an exhibition together with artist-run galleries from across Europe. Jaakko Pallasvuo & Viktor Timofeev are represented by the Brussels-based Komplot gallery.
Kaarina Kaikkonen is creating a new work called If I had Wings – Social Elevator in the Marolles neighbourhood of Brussels.
The Musiqu’3 Festival is presenting a wide range of Finnish musicians this summer as part of this year’s Nordic Vibes theme. The three-day festival, which takes place at the end of June and the beginning of July, will feature music by leading Finnish artists as well as Finnish musicians who are in the early stages of their international career.
Established in 2011, the festival has from its inception placed an emphasis on bringing classical music to a broad, young and as diverse as possible audience. The festival organisers take pride in their openness and willingness to experiment and aim to present a rich pallet of musical genres. The festival features choral music, folk music, world music, jazz and even rock sounds.
The TelepART platform was launched in the spring of 2016 with the aim to promote exchange between Finland and the Benelux countries in the performing arts field. In May 2017, the Finnish Institute in London joined the programme, making it possible for artists from Great Britain and Ireland to apply for TelepART funding.
Wednesday 24 January will see the TelepART programme expanding even further when the Finnish Institute in Hungary ‘FinnAgora’, the Finnish Institute in Germany and the Finnish Institute in Estonia join the programme.