Helsinki Festival programme has been published

The confirmed Helsinki Festival programme includes, for example, dancer-choreographer Akram Khan’s breathtaking contemporary dance work Jungle Book reimagined and the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra’s new concert version of the opera Khovanshchina, conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen. The highlight of the 35-year-old Night of the Arts is Lauri Porra’s free of charge music experience in Senate Square, featuring over 100 bass instruments.
Helsinki Festival will be celebrated from 15 August to 1 September 2024. Photo: Tero Ahonen
Helsinki Festival will be celebrated from 15 August to 1 September 2024. Photo: Tero Ahonen

This year’s international dance performance at Helsinki Festival is Jungle Book reimagined by the acclaimed dancer-choreographer Akram Khan, known for his current themes and imaginative, complex works. This contemporary dance work is based on Rudyard Kipling’s beloved classic Jungle Book, reinterpreted through the themes of climate change and migration. The show will feature ten top international dancers as well as breathtaking animation and stage art.

Classical music programme themed around current events

Helsinki Festival’s classical music programme, which includes two concerts by The Cleveland
Orchestra, conducted by Franz Welser-Möst, expands to encompass several concerts linked to current events.

Esa-Pekka Salonen, a recent recipient of the Polar Music Prize, the “Nobel prize” for music, comes to Helsinki Festival to conduct a group of almost 200 musicians in a concert version of Modest Mussorgsky’s opera Khovanshchina. The major production led by Salonen includes the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Latvian Radio Choir, Tapiola Chamber Choir and dozens of soloists, including bass voice Mika Kares. The work is woven together by electronic music multitalent and sound artist Tuomas Norvio and directed by Gerard McBurney. From Helsinki Festival, the production travels to the 2025 Salzburg Easter Festival.

Musiikkitalo’s new organs receive a worthy guest when one of the brightest stars of organ art, Latvian Iveta Apkalna, comes to Helsinki Festival. Apkalna’s solo recital programme consists of a hypnotic mix of the pulsating contemporary music of Philip Glass and the ageless organ works of Johann Sebastian Bach. Apkalna has played with some of the top orchestras in the world, including another Helsinki Festival guest, The Cleveland Orchestra.

The Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra’s Wish Concert explores the positive effects of classical
music on mental wellbeing and a functional society. The works performed at the concert have been picked by the President of  Finland Alexander Stubb, Professor Suvi Saarikallio, neuroscientist Daniel Levitin and Marko Ahtisaari, Artistic Director of the Helsinki Festival. The soloist for the concert conducted by Jukka-Pekka Saraste is bass player Victor Wooten. The concert is preceded by a discussion about the power of music and the works of the concert, led by those responsible for selecting the pieces. The picks and concert programme will be published during the summer.

At the Festival’s opening concert on 15 August, Chief Conductor Hannu Lintu conducts the
Orchestra of the FNO and soprano Karita Mattila. The concert features the works of Beethoven, Wagner and Scriabin, and the opening piece, The Wrath of God by Sofia Gubaidulina, will be performed for the first time in Finland.

The final concert of Helsinki Festival on 1 September is full of the energy of young musicians when Professor Sakari Oramo brings together the symphony orchestras of London’s Royal College of Music and the Sibelius Academy of University of the Arts Helsinki. The concert programme includes the brand new song series Songs from the Countryside by Finnish-American Lara Poe and interpreted by soprano Anu Komsi.

Over 100 bass instruments celebrate 35 years of Night of the Arts

Night of the Arts will open the next Helsinki Festival on 15.8.2024. A Helsinki Festival staple, Night of the Arts turns 35. Offering free art experiences, this year’s Night of the Arts climaxes with a massive gathering of bass voices in Senate Square. A choir of bass singers, a line-up of low-frequency wind instruments and a rhythm legion of electric bass guitarists and percussionists, together forming a total of more than 125 bass voices, perform BASSO, a new composition by composer and bass virtuoso Lauri Porra. There is an open call for electric bass players for the work, as of today. Performers include Awake Percussion, YL Male Voice Choir, double bass players from the East Helsinki Music Institute and other masters of bass frequencies. The visual designer is Joonas Tikkanen.

Starting on Night of the Arts, Esplanade Park hosts the free of charge exhibition AI Helsinki by Kevin Abosch, which will run until the end of Helsinki Festival. Artist and photographer Abosch provides a look into the heart of the people of Helsinki using synthetic photography. Also an acclaimed portrait photographer, Abosch photographed the people and scenery of Helsinki and used AI to transform the images – these people and places do not actually exist, even though they look real.

At the heart of the Night of the Arts are events produced by the residents of Helsinki themselves. The open call for events opened today on the Night of the Arts website. Running with the theme of the work BASSO, we are now encouraging music and club scene actors in particular to produce evening and night programmes for Night of the Arts.