Helsinki Festival once again fills the city with culture from 17 August to 3 September 2017. The Festival offers dozens of concerts ranging from classical music to balmy nights in the Huvila Festival Tent, performing arts from Chekhov to mother myths and art expressions from video installations to virtual reality.
At the same time, we will celebrate Finland’s centennial year with rediscovered classics, good deeds and musical greetings from neighbouring lands.
The largest multi-artistic festival in the Nordic countries features the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra performing with top soprano Renée Fleming and the rediscovered interludes of the opera The Nose, conducted by Susanna Mälkki.
The Festival also showcases Peeping Tom’s virtuoso dance theatre as well as Julian Rosefeldt’s famous Manifesto, with star actress Cate Blanchett bringing the art manifestos to life.
Front-row dance theatre from Belgium and iconoclastic Chekhov
Visiting Finland for the first time at Helsinki Festival, the Belgian dance theatre group Peeping Tom has gathered a loyal following both at home and abroad with their skilful dance theatre tinted with black humour. Seen at Helsinki Festival, Moeder (Mother) is the independent second part of a trilogy dealing with family relationships.
Also coming to Helsinki is the Dublin/London-based Dead Centre with its version of Chekhov’s First Play, based on Anton Chekhov’s first, unnamed manuscript.
Premieres at Helsinki Festival include Aidatut unelmat (Fenced Dreams), a walking performance zigzagging through the gardens of the Kaarela area by choreographer Sari Palmgren in co-operation with Zodiak – Center for New Dance, and The Artist by circus artist Sanna Silvennoinen and physical comedy mastermind Thomas Monckton.
Rediscovered classics from cine-concerts to opera
Helsinki Festival’s classical music programme gets a head start on Friday, 11 August, when Esa-Pekka Salonen conducts the Finnish premiere of his brand new cello concerto at the Finnish National Opera and Ballet. The soloist is the German/French Nicolas Alstaedt.
On the first day of the festival, a genuine pearl of Finnish music history will be performed at Helsinki Music Centre for the first time in over 80 years: Väinö Raitio’s Princess Cecilia. The opera’s leading roles are sung by Johanna Rusanen-Kartano and Waltteri Torikka, among others.
The 100th anniversary of Finland’s independence is celebrated with a unique cine-concert. Restored by the National Audiovisual Institute, the documentary film Finlandia (1922) is shown on the big screen once again and accompanied by key pieces of the era’s classical music from Erkki Melartin to Toivo Kuula and Jean Sibelius.
Legends of soul, country and calypso meet at Huvila Festival Tent
As usual, Huvila Festival Tent is an atmospheric meeting place for different musical genres from around the world, featuring both legends of their trade and young talents.
The Huvila stars include the godfather of soul William Bell and the charismatic country legend Lucinda Williams.
As a producer, Daniel Lanois constructed sound worlds for Bob Dylan, Neil Young and U2 among others. He now brings echoes of Americana to Huvila with his new instrumental album Goodbye to Language.
Cate Blanchett interprets 13 art manifestos in a controversial video collage
Taking over Kunsthalle Helsinki, German artist Julian Rosefeldt’s Manifesto is an homage to the tradition of artist manifestos. Combining historical texts with modern contexts, the video collage’s 13 different characters are all played by the Australian movie star Cate Blanchett.
The Finnish Museum of Photography presents the retrospective On Being an Angel by the American photographer Francesca Woodman (1958–1981).
Tuomas A. Laitinen’s Mobile Home 2017 installation at Sinne Gallery ponders the concept of home as part of the Finland 100 anniversary programme.
Good deeds, virtual art and jazz take over the city
How can one person change the world? As part of the Finland 100 anniversary programme, artist Kaisa Salmi's #tekoja invites Finns to acknowledge each other with small acts, even for one day. The summer of doing good culminates on 26 August, when the Helsinki Festival gathers people together to deepen their thoughts about empathy.
During the Night of the Arts on 24 August, Senate Square turns into the Secret Garden, emitting the charming atmosphere of historic gardens and inspired by the garden and event oasis for the whole family which filled the courtyard of Kaartin Lasaretti last year.
During the Helsinki Festival, a London jazz institution, Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, also takes over the city. In some of the trio concerts led by Ashley Henry, Reuben James and Richard Spaven, the soloists include Timo Lassy, Markus Holkko and Emma Salokoski.