A guide to contemporary & classical summer festivals 2015

Once again, the Finnish summer is packed with contemporary and classical festivals. This year notable recurring themes are birthdays of Finnish composers Jean Sibelius and Aulis Sallinen. The former is celebrated on so many festivals, in fact, that we gave Sibelius his own category. Read our guide to Finnish contemporary, classical, baroque and opera festivals below and get in the holiday mood!

Contemporary Music

XXX Summer Sounds (24 – 28 June)                       

The Avanti! Summer Sounds festival will be celebrating its 30th anniversary on June 24–28, 2015. This year, the artistic planning of the five-day musical event is the responsibility of German conductor-composer Matthias Pintscher

Time of Music (30 June – 5 July)

The 34th Time of Music Festival brings to Viitasaari, Finland two great names of contemporary British music, Sir Harrison Birtwistle and Brian Ferneyhough. The main guest ensemble is Ensemble Modern, Germany’s leading contemporary music ensemble. Ensemble Modern will perform Lauri Supponen’s fix, which was commissioned by the festival.

Time of Music in 2014

Kimito Island Music Festival (7 – 12 July)       

First performance of Lotta Wennäkoski’s Päärme by Sibelius Piano Trio takes place at the Kimito church. At the candle light concert in Västanfjärd old church Sibelius’ Andante FestivoSaariaho’s Nocturne and works by Bach and Messiaen are performed.

Crusell Music Festival (25 July – 2 August)

The artistic director of Crusell Music Festival is clarinetist Harri Mäki. Music by composers Kalevi Aho, Pehr-Henrik Nordgren and Aki Yli-Salomäki are on the programme bill. Birthday heroes Aulis Sallinen and Jean Sibelius will be celebrated here as well.

Meidän festivaali (Our Festival, 26 July – 1 August)

Meidän festivaali continues on its pursuit to seek new perspectives on musical encounters and concert practices. This year’s contemporary repertoire includes works by Kaija Saariaho, Lotta Wennäkoski, Sebastian Fagerlund and Jean Sibelius. Performers include Kamus String QuartetKuusisto brothers and Tomas Djupsjöbacka.

Korsholm Music Festival (30 July – 6 August)

The theme of Korsholm Music Festival is “The new world”, a theme that brings a lot of American music to the programme. The theme composer of the year is Matthew Whittall whose works will be performed on three nights. 

Luosto Classic (6–9 August)              

The theme of the LuostoClassic 2015 festival is Pictures at an Exhibition – colour in music, music in colours. Mikko Heiniö’s The Distant Grove gets its world premiere at the festival and concert programme includes performances of works by Kalevi Aho, Olli Kortekangas and Einojuhani Rautavaara to name a few. The Lahti Symphony Orchestra will, under its Principal Conductor Okko Kamu, perform Sibelius’s symphonic poem Tapiola.

Oulunsalo Soi (7–30 August)

Juha T. Koskinen’s opera Lusia Rusintytär gets its first performance at Oulunsalo Soi.


If you wish to listen to Sibelius on a pleasant summer’s afternoon, you’re in for a treat: there’s hardly any festivals that wouldn’t honor the composer’s 150th birthday in some manner. 

Naantali Music Festival (2–13 June) 

Naantali Music Festival in the south-west coast of Finland is a well-established festival whose repertoire focuses on chamber music in all its variety. This year’s programme includes the celebrations of milestone birthdays of Jean Sibelius and Aulis Sallinen. Leading Finnish musicians at this year’s festival will include the violinists Elina Vähälä and Jaakko Kuusisto. International guests include the distinguished pianist Grigori Sokolov and the English Chamber Orchestra conducted by Ralf Gothóni.

Iitti Music Festival (10–13 June)

Also Iitti Music Festival honours Jean Sibelius this year: Enesco Quartet performs Works for Violin, Skogsrået (The Wood Nymph) Op. 15 and many other works by the composer.

Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival (12–25 July)

In addition to works of Sibelius, Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival’s main highlights on the programme include Juha T. Koskinen’s Chant of Lusia, Fragment from the Opera Lusia for Mezzo-soprano and String Quartet and Sebastian Fagerlund’s Transient Light for French Horn, Violin, Cello and Piano.

Joroinen Music Festival (26 July – 2 August)

Sibelius' 150 years celebratory concert features a star performer, soprano Camilla Nylund (which is her only performance in Finland this summer).

Mänttä Music Festival (5–9 August)

Organ virtuoso Ville Urponen performs Sibelius with soprano Helena Juntunen and English horn player Aale Lindgren. The festival also features plenty of performances by pianists like Paavali Jumppanen and Eero Heinonen.  

Joensuu Music Festival (1–4 June & 1–10 July)

One of the most special concerts this year is no doubt taking place at Joensuu Music Festival: a concert grand is taken atop Akka-Koli (one of the highest peaks in the national park of Koli) where pianist Janne Mertanen performs Sibelius’ piano pieces. 

Turku Music Festival (6–15 August)

Jean Sibelius is the center of attention at Turku Music Festival as well. 

Helsinki Festival (14–30 August)

Kullervo by Sibelius will be performed at the Senate Square of Helsinki for free. The festival’s programme is full of interesting concerts and operas, including Wunderbar!, a “sensual and surreal short opera” composed by Lotta Wennäkoski, and Autuus by Antti Auvinen to name a few. Read more about the programme here. http://musicfinland.fi/en/news/article/new-contemporary-compositions-at-helsinki-festival 


Savonlinna Opera Festival (3 July – 2 August)

This year The Semperoper Dresden, one of Germany’s leading opera houses will make its debut at Savonlinna Opera Festival. Another new guest is the Vienna Volksoper, who bring Franz Lehár’s The Merry Widow,  on the Castle stage. New productions include Modest Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov, with bass Matti Salminen in the title role. The performance will be conducted by Leif Segerstam

Kokkola Opera Summer (22–26 July)

The Kokkola Summer Opera Festival celebrates its tenth anniversary between 22 and 26 July 2015 with a double-bill of operatic works: the seldom heard opera in one act by Jean Sibelius, “Maiden in the Tower” and a world premiere of a new piece “The Maiden of Harrbåda”, an opera by composer Seppo Pohjola and librettist Jusa Peltoniemi based on an old ghost legend from the Kokkola area. 


Janakkala Baroque (26–28 June)

Concerts include Aapo Häkkinen performing pieces by William Byrd with organ and cembalo and Ilpo Laspas performing Dietrich Buxtehude.

BRQ Vantaa Festival (2–9 August)

Helsinki Baroque Orchestra’s makes their debut at BRQ Vantaa this year, with Pierre Hantaï, Aapo Häkkinen and Kreeta-Maria Kentala playing as soloists in Bach’s famous concertos.