As of the autumn 2023 season, the Kymi Sinfonietta will be launching a new artistic planning policy in collaboration with two Artistic Partners. These partners will be addressing various aspects of the orchestra as befits their own genres and expertise, together with the orchestra’s management and the program committee. The two Artistic Partners are Topi Lehtipuu and Jukka Perko. Topi Lehtipuu, tenor and conductor, will be primarily fostering the orchestra’s vocal and early music know-how, and Jukka Perko, jazz musician and saxophonist, its performance of jazz and rhythm music. Both are leading artists in their genres and fields not only in Finland but around the world. Their three-year agreements with the Kymi Sinfonietta will each cover the artistic planning of one or two concerts per season. The orchestra is further seeking a third Artistic Partner.
Topi Lehtipuu is one of Finland’s most individual artists. An extremely versatile and a highly-skilled tenor and stage performer, he is renowned for repertoire ranging from early music to contemporary creations. He also enjoys a career as artistic consultant and curator and was Director of the Helsinki Festival from 2015 to 2018, and of Turku Music Festival from 2010 to 2015. Developing as a conductor in recent years, he appears regularly with orchestras in his native Finland, where his creative and versatile approach to a wide range of repertoire is highly valued. Of his new Artistic Partner role he says “Artistic planning is a multi-dimensional process. Kymi Sinfonietta is embarking on a new planning model, based on a dialogue which combines the orchestra’s collective know-how with the conductor’s vision. This resonates perfectly with my own way of thinking, and I am excited to join the orchestra as Artistic Partner at this pivotal moment of their development. It is a joy to collaborate and make music with their wonderful musicians.”
Jukka Perko was still only a teenager when he first made a name for himself in jazz circles at Pori Jazz in summer 1986. The very next year he was invited to join the 70th anniversary tour band of legendary trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie. Perko is famous for his numerous highly-acclaimed line-ups and broad repertoire as the guest soloist with big bands and symphony orchestras. He is also Artistic Director of the Viapori Jazz Festival and, with violinist Elina Vähälä, of the Oulu Music Festival, and he teaches at the Sibelius Academy. Perko and the Kymi Sinfonietta have collaborated numerous times over the years. “One of the best things about playing with the Kymi Sinfonietta has,” says Perko of his forthcoming contract with the Kymi Sinfonietta, “been that in addition to hitting the right note together, we have always found a common beat. There must be something in the tap water of jazz-city Kotka and Kouvola. It will be a special pleasure and privilege to begin working with the orchestra as an Artistic Partner. And I’m not just saying this to be polite, because I come from the other side of Finland.”
Raymond Cox, concertmaster of the Kymi Sinfonietta, says of the new Artistic Partner model: “In the words of Joseph Haydn the composer, ‘the times change, and we change with them’. The same can be said about Kymi Sinfonietta. Starting this year, we will move away from collaborating with a single Artistic Director and adopt a new model in which the orchestra engages multiple artistic partners in different fields. Kymi Sinfonietta has always been an orchestra of various colours and contrasts. Now it is time to focus on those contrasts with experts. Artistic partners can bring new depth, new perspective, and new demands to our ensemble. And we are more than ready to take on the challenge.” Also beginning with the Kymi Sinfonietta on June 1, along with the new Artistic Partners, is the new orchestra’s Managing Director, Mikko Missi. His comment on the new artistic collaboration is: “The autumn season marks the beginning of a new and exciting collaboration with the Kymi Sinfonietta’s new Artistic Partners. We’re all very much looking forward to whatever Topi Lehtipuu and Jukka Perko have in store for us.”
AUTUMN SEASON ALSO TO FEATURE PRIZE-WINNING CONDUCTORS AND SOLOISTS AND UNIQUE LIGHT AND FILM CONCERTS
The opening concert of the Kymi Sinfonietta’s autumn season (August 16 &17) is also the starting shot of the new role of jazz musician and saxophonist Jukka Perko as one of the orchestra’s two new Artistic Partners. The concert titled “Finnish Standards” will be devoted to melodies firmly engraved on the Finnish collective memory, along with ones that have found their way here from elsewhere and acquired a new, even jazzier life.
The concerts conducted by our other Artistic Partner, Topi Lehtipuu, are scheduled for early October and late November. The “Sparkling Italian Opera” concert in October will transport us to the land where opera was born, for a programme of classics ranging from early 17th-century Baroque to the 19th century. For the “In Memoriam” concert in November, Lehtipuu will be joining forces with our orchestra, four top international soloists and the Somnium Ensemble in thought-provoking choral works by three great composers: Bach, Beethoven and Mozart. Lehtipuu has chosen the soloists for the works in question with the utmost care, thus promising us a real feast of vocal music.
During the autumn season, the Kymi Sinfonietta will be welcoming conductors and soloists who have excelled in international competitions. The guest in the season’s first symphony concert in August is Jascha von der Goltz, a German who won widespread international acclaim at the Jorma Panula Conducting Competition in 2021. The soloist is Maciej Kułakowski from Poland, who made his breakthrough at the Lutosławski International Cello Competition. Starring in the “Winners’ Parade” concert at the beginning of November is the winner of the most recent Maj Lind Piano Competition, Piotr Pawlak, again from Poland. Victory in the most recent Jorma Panula Competition likewise set the concert’s conductor, Nathanaël Iselin, well on the way to fame.
Representing the autumn season’s most illustrious elite in mid-September will be legendary Finnish conductor Osmo Vänskä. The eagerly-awaited soloists at that concert will be pianist Juho Pohjonen and the leader, Erin Keefe, of the Minnesota Orchestra, in Mendelssohn’s spirited double concerto for violin and piano. On Wednesday September 20, Kotka welcomes magnificent Finnish pianist Joonas Ahonen for a programme of music by Beethoven and sons of Johann Sebastian Bach. Raymond Cox will lead this concert from the front desk.
The film concert at the end of September will combine a silver-screen classic with a live accompaniment: Charlie Chaplin’s unforgettable Gold Rush (1925). The chamber recital in Kotka at the beginning of October, celebrating the 150th anniversary of the birth of Serge Rachmaninov, will be given by three of the Kymi Sinfonietta’s own string players and pianist Irina Zahharenkova.
One of the colourful highlights of the autumn season is the collaboration between the Kymi Sinfonietta and the City of Kotka’s Waves! festival. The Kotka Concert Hall will be filled with the interplay of light, water and colours on Thursday October 19 in a dazzling son et lumière production designed by the Kymi Sinfonietta’s former Artistic Advisor and conductor Olari Elts and Niko Tiainen, a specialist in video, light and sound installations. This concert will be a feast of sounds and effects in a breath-taking musical journey from the depths of the ocean to outer space. One of the works on the programme will be a joint commission from the Kymi Sinfonietta, the Jyväskylä Sinfonia and the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra: The Ring of Fire and Love by Outi Tarkiainen. The light festival will be coordinated by the City of Kotka.
The season still has two more fine concerts lined up. At “Silver Screen Classics” at the end of November, Kotka-born conductor and trombonist Antti Rissanen and charismatic singers will lead the audience through a selection of American cinema classics and Finnish film music. The autumn season will end with Christmas concerts steeped in atmosphere produced in collaboration with conductor Jonas Rannila and the choir of the Kouvola music classes.
Tickets for the autumn concerts will go on sale on 1st of August 2023. Old season tickets can be renewed starting from this moment at the Orchestra Office (further info tel. +358 50 323 2050 or +358 5 234 4891), and new season tickets will be sold until the start of the season. Tickets can be purchased online at Ticketmaster, or at the Orchestra Office (Kotkankatu 7, Kotka, Finland, tel. +358 5 234 4891), the Kuusankoski Hall, the Manski Office (open on Tuesdays at Kauppalankatu 13, Kouvola) and at the door before concerts.
Before some concerts, audiences can also meet the artist(s) and learn about the works to be performed. For further information about these meetings please see the Kymi Sinfonietta website.