Kuhmo Chamber Music is to go ahead, the COVID-19 crisis having eased. The Festival will be virtually on the same scale as before, with 55 concerts over the two-week period and dozens of top musicians from Finland and abroad appearing. Special attention has been paid to the safety of both performers and audiences. The concerts will take place in the Kuhmo Arts Centre and the church, where social distancing can be maintained. The Festival has Beethoven as the main theme and will run 11-24 July.
This year again will see appearances by many well-known stars of the world of classical music at Kuhmo. The pianists include Nino Gvetadze and Konstantin Bogino, Sergei Malov and Daniel Rowland are among the violinists (numbering more than 20), and the cellists include Senja Rummukainen and Trey Lee. There are five chamber ensembles in all. They include groups from the Kuhmo Chamber Music Quartet Academy and audience favourites Danel Quartet and the Storioni Trio.
So that audience members can keep a safe distance from one another, just half the seats at venues are on sale. There will be four concerts a day and no intermissions. Audiences will in this way have plenty of time to leave the concert hall safely and move between venues.
- Large-scale works
We are going back to having four concerts a day, which was the standard number of events before the Kuhmo Arts Centre was completed. And now the programme will hark back to the early days of the Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival, as, after a long time, a composer is once again the theme of the festival and audiences will have the chance to hear some of the greatest chamber music works ever written.
Over the two weeks there will be performances of key chamber music works of Beethoven, including the string quartets and the large-scale septet. All of the composer’s symphonies will be played, this time as chamber arrangements. The highlight of the final day of the Festival will be a first performance of Vladimir Mendelssohn’s arrangement of Beethoven’s ninth symphony.
The Festival will provide a comprehensive picture of Beethoven’s output, as on the programme there will also be some rarely heard pieces. The programme also includes a lot of music from Beethoven’s time – and we haven’t forgotten the Trout Quintet either! In addition, something rather unusual: a performance of Erik Satie’s Vexations for piano, a short passage of music that is repeated over and over again and which lasts almost 24 hours.
- Explosion and afterglow
The Festival theme, the ’Beethoven burst’, is a reference to a gamma-ray burst observed in a distant galaxy in 1999. The phenomenon came to be known as the Beethoven Burst, as it was discovered on the composer’s birthday. Artistic Director of Kuhmo Chamber Music, Vladimir Mendelssohn, says that divine and natural forces had meant the discovery of a hypernova and Beethoven’s birth should take place on the same day. The light resulting from the birth of a star is a wondrous event, which can be seen, but music is like a dream, that can be heard, as Beethoven himself said. Beethoven’s music, the product of a boundless imagination embodying passion, visions, nature, moonshine, tempests, jealousy, love, contempt and admiration, or recreating the myths of Prometheus, spirits and the Muses, and not forgetting the Ode to Joy, have all become part of the same, inextinguishable afterglow.
Executive Director of Kuhmo Chamber Music, Sari Rusanen, is very happy that the Festival is taking place after a long period of uncertainty. She says that the dark times we lived in last year because of the coronavirus showed just how important art and culture were, and that we were only half alive without live events or proper contact. Of course, it is not all over yet, but we have got a step closer to normality and can once again enjoy the world’s most beautiful music. The spirit of Kuhmo is now 100% stronger.
- The theme for 2022: the Art of Illusion
As usual, there will be offerings of visual art while the Festival is on. Katja Tukiainen’s exhibition Fear no Girl will be on display in the foyer of the Kuhmo Arts Centre, and in the Chamber Music Centre’s Galleria there will be an exhibition by the group of artists known as Latitude 64. Leveyspiiri. Both shows will run 11–24 July. Works from the OP Art Foundation will also be on display during concerts at the Arts Centre.
The Art of Illusion is to be the theme of the Festival for 2022, which was supposed to be the theme for 2020. The epidemic meant that no large-scale programme as such could be put on this year either, so Beethoven took its place.
The Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival, which began in 1970, will now take place for the 51st time. The two-week Festival is still Finland’s biggest celebration of chamber music.
- Budget of around EUR 900,000
The budget for Kuhmo Chamber Music 2021 and the music courses is around EUR 900,000. The town of Kuhmo and the Ministry of Education and Culture provide the Festival and courses with financial assistance. The Finnish Cultural Foundation has provided support to help get though the Covid-19 crisis and the Quartet Academy is sponsored by the Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation.
We have nine private sector partners. The partner of the Festival is the OP Financial Group and its friends are F-Musiikki Oy, Kainuun Sanomat, Kuhmo Oy, Loiste Oy, Lounea Oy, Metsähallitus, No-Pan Auto Oy and Osuuskauppa Maakunta.