Valeri Gergiev is a Russian conductor and Artistic and General Director of the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg. One of the world’s best-known conductors, he also works with the Rotterdam Philharmonic, the Orchestra of the New York Metropolitan Opera and the London Symphony Orchestra.
Born to Ossetian parents in Moscow on May 2, 1953, Valery Gergiev grew up in the town of Vladikavkaz in the Republic of North Ossetia. He studied orchestral conducting with Ilya Musin at the Leningrad Conservatoire and in 1978 was appointed Assistant Conductor of the Kirov Opera, where he made his debut in Sergei Prokofiev’s opera War and Peace. He was appointed Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the Kirov Opera (now the Mariinsky Theatre) in 1988, and General Director of the Mariinsky Theatre in 1996.
Maestro Gergiev and his orchestra have visited Finland many times and view the Mikkeli Music Festival, in particular, with great affection. Valery Gergiev has been Artistic Director of the Mikkeli Music Festival since 1993.
MARIINSKY THEATRE ORCHESTRA
The Mariinsky Theater or Maria Theater, founded in 1860, is an opera and ballet theater located in St. Petersburg, Russia. The theater was named after Empress Maria Aleksandrovna.
The Principal Condactor and General Director of the Mariinsky theatre orchestra is Valeri Gergijev. Under his leadership orchestra has become one of the top twenty orchestras in the world.
Anna Pavlova, Vatslav Nižinski and Rudolf Nurejev have danced in Mariinsky Ballet during its history. Almost all the major Russian operas, such as Mikhail Glinka’s ”Ruslan and Lyudmila”, Modest Musorgski’s ”Boris Godunov” and ”Hovanštšina”. as well as all Pyotr Tchaikovsky's operas have been premiered at the Mariinsky Theater. In 1887 on the premiere of ”The Enchantress” Tchaikovsky conducted the orchestra himself.
‘The music-making positively blazes’ The Times
In the 2020/21 season Santtu-Matias Rouvali continues as Chief Conductor of Gothenburg Symphony and as Principal Conductor Designate of the Philharmonia Orchestra, where he succeeds Esa-Pekka Salonen in 2021/22. Alongside these posts he retains his longstanding Chief Conductor position with Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra close to his home in Finland.
Starting the season on a high, Rouvali will give his highly anticipated debut at the BBC Proms with Philharmonia Orchestra, performing Bach’s Keyboard Concerto and Mozart’s Piano Concerto No.24 with Vikingur Ólaffson, alongside Strauss’ Till Eulenspiegels and Death in Transfiguration. Throughout the season he continues his relationships with top level orchestras across Europe, including NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester, Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, and Münchner Philharmoniker, and soloists such as Martin Fröst, Alice Sara Ott, Pekka Kuusisto, Bryce Dessner, Henning Kraggerud, Nina Stemme and Alexander Melnikov.
Erkki Lasonpalo had studied conducting under the leadership of Jorma Panula and Leif Segerstam at the Sibelius Academy. He has been leading the most significant orchestras in Finland since 2012, such as Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra and Turku Philharmonic Orchestra, Lahti Symphony Orchestra, Oulu Symphony Orchestra, Tapiola Sinfonietta, Lapland Chamber Orchestra, also the Kuopio, Helsinki, Lappeenranta, Vaasa, Pori, Jyväskylä and Joensuu City Orchestras. He has also worked in opera productions in addition to the Finnish National Opera and Ballet at the Oulu Opera, the Savonlinna Opera Festival and the Kokkola Opera. Lasonpalo has also been a conductor of the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra.
Lasonpalo has been working as the Artistic Director of Heinävesi Music Days since 2014 and Artistic Director of Kemi City Orchestra since 2016, also he has been the Artistic Partner of Mikkeli City Orchestra since 2017. He is also Artistic Director of Helsinki Sinfonietta. In the beginning of 2019 Lasonpalo has been named as the Artistic Director of Vivo, the national youth symphony orchestra.
VIVO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
The Symphony Orchestra Vivo is a Finnish National Youth Philharmonic Orchestra. The average age of musicians is about 19 years old and the age range is 14-26 years. Most of the musicians are full-time students in different institutions of musical education. Vivo offers them a magnificent opportunity not only to get a professional knowledge and training, but also a valuable experience of performing in orchestra.
Vivo was founded in 1986 by the conductor Kari Tikka and a group of young musicians. Helsinki debut concert was organized at the Old Student House in late spring of 1989, after which the orchestra has regularly performed in different parts of Finland.
After Kari Tikka, artistic directors have been Mikko Franck (1997-1999), Tibor Bogányi (2000-2002) and Esa Heikkilä (2003-2016). Conductor Erkki Lasonpalo has been named as the Artistic Director of Vivo in the beginning of 2019.
Over the past 30 years Vivo has been the professional career start for hundreds of young musicians. Vivo’s repertoire covers all types of orchestral music from symphonies and operas right up to tangos and film soundtracks arranged for a symphony orchestra. However, the focus of the repertoire is on the great symphonies and tone poems (by composers such as Sibelius, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich, Mahler and Bruckner).
The Vivo Symphony Orchestra has also visited Hungary, Georgia, Canada, the United States, Russia, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Germany with their concerts.
ST. MICHEL STRINGS
St. Michel Strings, based in the city of Mikkeli, is a professional string ensemble of 12 full time musicians. St. Michel Strings dates back to 1903, when a small town of only a few thousand residents had a local music association that founded an orchestra. The ensemble had far higher aspirations than its amateur status. It eventually became a fulltime professional ensemble, and in 1990 became one of the cultural organizations publicly funded by the city of Mikkeli.
St. Michel Strings has enjoyed renaissance since the appointment of Music Director Sasha Mäkilä in the fall of 2012. Mäkilä returned to his home country after serving as Assistant Conductor of the world-renowned Cleveland Orchestra and Orchestre National de France.
St. Michel Strings has won acclaim for its innovative programming of works for strings and has also become known for its eagerness to collaborate with young composers from Finland and abroad. In order to diversify its concert offerings, St. Michel Strings engages in numerous other partnerships as well, regularly performing joint concerts with other ensembles. The chamber configuration of the ensemble allows for easy mobility while still providing a full and authentic concert experience, sometimes even without a conductor.
Among its recent accomplishments, St. Michel Strings participated in the prestigious Great Mountains Music Festival in South Korea in summer 2013, and its recording Adagio, conducted by Grammy Award-winning conductor and composer José Serebrier, got Latin Grammy Award nomination. Recently St. Michel Strings has collaborated with soloists such as violinists Clara-Jumi Kang and Zia Hyunsu Shin, cellist Jian Wang and pianist Olli Mustonen. Celebration of the 150th anniversary of Jean Sibelius included St. Michel String’s tour in South Korea and China in March 2015 with Sibelius’ music.
“The band flies, in a mix of traditional and their own tunes, all shapely, ingenious and delivered with acute mastery and massive swing and energy.”
Andrew Cronshaw used these descriptions when reviewing Frigg’s debut album for one of the most prominent world music publications, fRoots magazine, in 2002. Having reached almost 20 years of age, the passing years have seen the septet amass quite a peerless curriculum vitae.
Frigg has been conquering the world with a fusion of western folk music styles leaning strongly towards Nordic folk music, for which the world music media has coined the term nordgrass, referring to the bluegrass influences of the group. The tight interplay of four violins, string instruments and contrabass, fine-tuned to perfection and spiced with sparkling, humorous live-energy has made an impact on listeners all over the world.
Apart from countless European tours, the notches on Frigg’s collective belt include seven North American tours. Many well-known festivals have been marked on their extensive tour map. For example, Celtic Connections, WOMADelaide, Rainforest World Music Festival and Cambridge Folk Festival have all invited the group over for a performance – and the list of festivals could go on endlessly. Via TV and radio, Frigg has reached audiences of millions with their performances in A Prairie Home Companion live radio show and NHK World Japan channel’s El Mundo program.
During its existence Frigg has released seven albums. The last studio album “Polka V” from 2012 was chosen the folk music record of the year and a Teosto Prize nominee in Finland. Among the most notable world music publications Songlines has singled out two of the group’s albums for its “Top of the World” chart, and on top of that fRoots, SingOut! and Rhythms have drawn attention to the group several times with extensive features and praising reviews.
In 2017, the eight album by Frigg, “Frost on Fiddles”, has seen the light of the day. The originally Finnish-Norwegian group has now become wholly Finnish, but Nordic influences remain strong. The delicate and beautiful Scandinavian tone language has been dipped in BBQ sauce and it is being served fresh with pálinka, to be enjoyed in good company. Frigg is proudly its own entity, now more so than ever!
The Sitkovetsky Trio has established itself as an exceptional piano trio of today, with sensational performances in the foremost concert halls around the world such as the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Frankfurt Alte Oper, Palais des Beaux Arts, Musée du Louvre, Wigmore Hall and Lincoln Center New York.
Alexander Sitkovetsky (violin) and Wu Qian (piano) have this season been joined by German-Korean cellist Isang Enders to continue their journey of successful appearances.
First prize-winners of the International Commerzbank Chamber Music Award, the trio is also a recipient of the NORDMETALL Chamber Music Award at the Mecklenburg Vorpommern Festival and the Philharmonia-Martin Chamber Music Award. They have also been supported by the Hattori Foundation, Musicians Benevolent Fund, Fidelio Trust and Swiss Global Artistic Foundation.
“These three artists –all in their early 30s –have fused rapidly into an exemplary piano trio, working through a demanding program with excellent fluency and solid collegiality of attack, phrase-shaping and insight.” Sydney Morning Herald, 2017
Irina Zahharenkova is one of the most versatile and outstanding keyboard performers to emerge from Estonia.
She has won first prizes in such major international piano competitions such as the International Johann Sebastian Bach Competition (Leipzig, Germany - 2006), Alessandro Casagrande International Piano Competition (Terni, Italy - 2006), International Competition George Enescu (Bucharest, Romania - 2005), and Jaén International Piano Contest (Jaén, Spain - 2004).
Irina obtained her Master of Music degree in Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre and the Sibelius Academy in Finland. In addition to piano she has studied the harpsichord and fortepiano. As a harpsichordist Irina has been a laureate of the Prague Spring competition in the Czech Republic (2005) and as fortepianist from the Festival van Vlaanderen competition in Bruges, Belgium (2004). In 2007 she received the prestigious Borletti-Buitoni Trust Fellowship Award.
As solo pianist and harpsichordist she has given recitals at the Klavier-Festival Ruhr in Germany, Spoleto Festival in Italy, Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival in Finland, Bergen International Festival in Norway and many others and appeared with the YOA Orchestra of the Americas, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Orchestre National de Lorraine, Israel Philarmonic Orchestra, Pilsen Philharmonic Orchestra, Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, Prague Chamber Orchestra, Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, Sinfonia Finlandia and others.
Irina is very active as a chamber musician as well as teaching in Estonia and Finland. Five CD’s/DVD’s have been released of Irina since 2010.
Eero Tarasti (b. 1948) has delivered speeches at Mikkeli Music Festival since its beginning. He has acted as a professor of musicology in the University of Helsinki in 1984-2016. He has supervised 110 doctoral theses in Finland and abroad. Tarasti’s publications – a.o. 40 books in English, French, Italian, Finnish and Chinese - deal with central composers of the European classical music – and semiotics. He also appears as chamber musician with the ensemble of Music Society of Helsinki University, and has published two novels. He is honorary doctor at Indiana University, Bloomington, New Bulgarian University Sofia, Estonian Music Academy, University of Aix-Marseille and Music Academy of Cluj Napoca, Romania.