A guide to Finnish contemporary & classical summer festivals 2017

Summer is here! See below our guide for classical and contemporary music festivals all around Finland. For the major opera events in Finland this year, please see our previous news “Operas and orchestras celebrate the centenary of Finland” here.

More festivals can be found at Finland Festival’s website.  

Cover photo: double bassist Petri Mäkiharju at Kuhmo Festival in 2016.


Naantali Music Festival, 6–17 June

Naantali Music Festival (Naantalin Musiikkijuhlat) in the south-west coast of Finland has this year three world premiere performances of works from Finnish composers. VIA-oratorio by Olli Kortekangas was composed for five soloists, two choirs, organ and orchestra and is part of the official Finnish centenary programme. The closing concert on Saturday 17 June will provide an opportunity to hear The Sea of Peace, a new clarinet quartetto by Aulis Sallinen. Another new Sallinen composition is a song cycle based on a poem by Helvi Juvonen to be premiered by soprano Johanna Rusanen-Kartano, baritone Ville Rusanen and pianist Pami Karvonen at the Kultaranta garden concert on 15 June. 

XXXII Summer Sounds, 28 June – 2 July

This year Avanti’s Summer Sounds Festival (Suvisoitto) programme is coordinated by composer Lotta Wennäkoski. Avanti! Chamber Orchestra will be fronted by some more unusual soloists – including a juggler and a Foley artist. Perhaps the most notable names to join the orchestra this summer are Polish soprano-composer Agata Zubel and Kersten McCall, German flutist for the prestigious Dutch Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.

Janakkala Baroque Festival, 30 June – 2 July

Janakkala Baroque Festival (Janakkalan Barokki) offers an intense weekend of early music with some folk thrown in for good measure. This year’s festival opens with music composed by 17th century Italian nuns and finishes with some serious harpsichord action from Bach and Müthel. In between, Olli Porthan will play Kunst der Fuge, while folk music is paired with wine and buffet at the old Turenki railway station. There is something for the kids too: Children’s Baroque (Lasten Barokki) is an official part of Finland 100 celebrations and fills the weekend with concerts and workshops.   


Helsinki Chamber Music Festival, 4–6 July

Helsinki Chamber Music Festival is a new, international event located in the surroundings of the Senate Square and old Helsinki. The artists of the festival are all young, skilled, classical music professionals who aim to create concerts that facilitate interaction and communication between the artists and the concertgoers in a relaxed, inspiring atmosphere.

Time of Music, 4–9 July

Time of Music (Musiikin aika) Festival at Viitasaari presents James Dillon as guest composer, world premieres from young Finnish composers Sebastian Hilli and Jouni Hirvelä and contemporary music masterworks never before performed in Finland. Time of Music is the yearly lookout to contemporary music that includes summer academy courses and a cutting-edge festival programme. The theme of this year’s festival is ‘Art & Autonomy’.

Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival, 9–22 July 

The programme of the well-known Kuhmo Chamber Music (Kuhmon Kamarimusiikki) goes this year from Bach to Piazzolla, from the 17th century to the present day, and from the strict discipline of fugue to free improvisation. Altogether 150 artists around the world will come and play at the Festival. In addition to 69 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. The festival also has a new quartet-in-residence: The Borea Quartet (Kasmir Uusitupa, Tami Pohjola, Riina Piirilä and Senja Rummukainen).

Sastamala Gregoriana Early Music Festival, 21–28 July

Sastamala Gergoriana, located in old lakeside churches of Sastamala, has an international concert programme with music from medieval, renaissance and baroque periods. This year the festival celebrates Finland’s Independence Centenary, Claudio Monteverdi’s 450th birthday and the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

Crusell Music Festival, 22–29 July

The artistic director of Crusell Music Festival, dedicated to woodwind music, is clarinetist Harri Mäki. This year the theme of the festival is “Dear neighbours”, concentrating on Sweden’s and Russia’s impacts on the development of Finnish musical life, and vice versa. In addition to concerts, Crusell International Flute Competition will be held at the festival.

Our Festival, 23–29 July

Our Festival (Meidän Festivaali) in Lake Tuusula celebrates the centenary of Finland with universal suffrage as the theme of the festival. The versatile programme observes tradition, native people, marginalization and the climate of discussion in our current society. The artistic director of the festival is violinist Pekka Kuusisto.  

Korsholm Music Festival, 26 July – 3 August

Korsholm Music Festival, arranged around the Ostrobothnian region in culturally historical sites, focuses on young artists. The Youth Piano Academy will give a concert, and compositions are commissioned from the young Johannes Piirto and Matti Heininen. A new work for accordion, piano and orchestra by Uljas Pulkkis will be premiered. 


Katrina Chamber Music Festival, 1–5 August

Katrina Chamber Music Festival (Katrina kammarmusik) in Mariehamn, Åland, presents a versatile combination of chamber music from different eras. Folk music is also included in the programme. Amongst the musicians there are Paavali Jumppanen, David Huang, Mats Bergström, Svante Henryson, Johanna Persson, Kati Raitinen, Margareta Bengtsson, Jonas Nordberg, Lena Willemark, and Cecilia Zilliacus who is also the artistic director of the festival. 

Mänttä Music Festival, 2–6 August 

Mänttä Music Festival (Mäntän Musiikkijuhlat) is a piano festival with both, experienced legends such as Richard Goode, Eero Heinonen and Olli Mustonen, and talented younger pianists such as Severin von Eckardstein, Anna Kuvaja and Eveliina Kytömäki. Students of the Youth Piano Academy Finland, the Sibelius Academy and the festival’s international master classes will also be heard at the concerts. Two world premieres will take place as Erkki Melartin’s Per speculum in enigmatae, op. 93 (1914–15) for solo piano and Eero Hämeenniemi’s new work Variazioni polifoniche will be premiered. 

BRQ Vantaa Festival, 6–13 August 

The unique historical milieu of the old parish church of St Lawrence provides the heart of this superb musical experience, which gives pride of place to baroque music and period instruments while also accommodating musical works from other eras. Leading artists will place special emphasis on works not previously heard in Finland. 

Luosto Classic, 10–13 August

The Pyhä-Luosto region in Lapland will once again be filled with classical music. The programme has chamber music from J.S. Bach to contemporary Finnish composers. Kalevi Aho’s new solo work will be premiered.

Turku Music Festival, 9–19 August

The 58th Turku Music Festival (Turun musiikkijuhlat) will have two concert performances of the opera Parsifal by Richard Wagner. The festival programme contains altogether over 30 concerts and events, with artists such as Karita Mattila, Matti Salminen, Waltteri Torikka, Klaus Florian Vogt, Lisa Batiashvili, Paavo Järvi, Sonya Yoncheva, Jaakko Ryhänen, Iiro Rantala, Antti Reini, and the Stockholm Syndrome Ensemble. The artistic director of the festival is Ville Matvejeff, known as conductor, composer and pianist. 

Oulunsalo Soi, 16–27 August

20 years old Oulunsalo Soi Festival gathers its previous artistic directors to perform together: pianist Izumi Tateno, string quartet Meta4, and mezzo-soprano Virpi Räisänen, who is the current artistic director of the festival. Netherlands Chamber Orchestra will perform first time in Finland, and there will also be a world premiere of Kalevi Aho’s new work, commissioned by the festival.

Kokonainen festivaali, 17–20 August

Kokonainen Festival in Hämeenlinna focuses on works of female composers, containing compositions by Helvi Leiviskä, Ida Moberg, Cecilia Damström, Anna Korsun, Matilda Seppälä, Bianca Maria Meda and Ella Adaiewskaja

Helsinki Festival, 17 August – 3 September

Helsinki Festival is the largest arts festival in Finland. This year the classical and contemporary music programme includes the Finnish premiere of Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Cello concerto, visit of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra with conductor Sakari Oramo and soprano Renée Fleming, Väinö Raitio’s opera Princess Cecilia from 1933, previously performed over 80 years ago, and a collaboration concert of Nico Muhly, Teitur and the Finnish Baroque Orchestra.