Kuhmo Chamber Music 2017
For two frenetic weeks in July, Kuhmo in Eastern Finland is host to a chamber music festival attracting thousands of music lovers. In that fortnight, this town of 9,000 inhabitants echoes to the sound of music against a backcloth of a lake that almost laps the walls of the concert halls in the clear, unbelievable northern light.
The concerts are held at the Kuhmo Arts Centre, in the Lentua Hall renowned for its excellent acoustics, at the festival's cult locale, Kontio School, and in Kuhmo's beautiful wooden church. The concert venues are all within walking distance of one another, or bicycles are a popular means of getting about, for artists and audiences alike. Music is everywhere, there are concerts from morning to late at night, and people just live for the music. In the evenings, gathered round an open fire in the yard of the festival restaurant, musicians and festival-goers get together and strike up friendships.
In just over 45 years, Kuhmo Chamber Music has grown to become one of the world's foremost music festivals. As early as 1989, the prestigious American journal Connoisseur was already calling it "possibly the best anywhere". In summer 2014 the British Financial Times described it as "a remarkable event, where unfettered creative idealism reigns. The Austrian music magazine Festspiele has rated Kuhmo among the world's leading festivals in 2008−2015.
Each year Kuhmo adopts a different theme. The Festival's buzzword this year is 'zap', a term which in French refers to the habit of rapidly switching channels using a remote. But each day and every concert will also have its own theme, one able to cater for the diverse selection of music on offer.
Kuhmo Chamber Music will take the music lover through a range of genres and styles. From Bach to Piazzolla, from the 17th century to the present day, and from the strict discipline of fugue to free improvisation. The main emphasis will of course be on the big classics of chamber music, but every day will be a journey to the unexpected. The Festival gets going on Sunday 9 July with a concert of music that was written at different periods in New York and ends on Saturday 22 July two weeks and 68 concerts later with a new interpretation of Handel's oratorio Messiah.
The Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival will run from 9 to 22 July this year. Altogether 150 artists around the world will come and play at the Festival.
The amount of the festival concerts is 69. In addition to the main concerts there will be children's concerts, student concerts, talks on the programmes for the day, instrument demonstrations, meetings with artists, art exhibitions and workshops. Together these will amount to over 100 events.
"Do not miss the festival", says Mendelssohn, "for it will never happen again in the same way under the same stars".
Welcome to Kuhmo – the capital city of chamber music!