Helsinki Festival 15 – 31 August 2008


This year's Helsinki Festival programme whisks festival goers back to 1968. A free concert at the Senate Square and a big top circus mark the Festival's 40th anniversary. Artists from Sweden to Nigeria and India to Israel will be performing at the Huvila Festival Tent. A stellar line up of classical music stars take over at Finlandia Hall and Björk will be headlining the anniversary concert on 10 July.

”We are timetravelling back to 1968 and taking a glimpse into the future by showcasing some of the work being done in the field of art education. Venezuela's Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra is a truly excellent example of the power of music and the future.” says Risto Nieminen, Helsinki Festival Director.

Circus magic, powerful dance and European theatre

The French new circus troupe Cirque Plume will be pitching its 1,000 capacity big top – and caravans - at the Hietaniemi seafront. The Festival's theatre programme kicks off with The Sound of Silence, a play set in 1968, by the Latvian Alvis Hermanis. Co-operation with the Korjaamo Culture Factory continues in the form of the Stage Theatre Festival. Eleven new works from around Europe will be staged at the recently renovated Korjaamo venue.

Joining the dance programme line-up is the Cullberg Ballet, a company that counted among the performers at the first ever Helsinki Festival. Tero Saarinen Company's Next of Kin will receive its Finnish debut and Eeva Muilu's Something Somewhere will be seen in Helsinki for the first time. ”Dave St-Pierre, the contemporary dance wunderkind, will be mindblowing, utterly unforgettable”, promises Kenneth Kvarnström, Helsinki Festival Artistic Advisor on dance.

Classical music, Venezuelan charm and rare treats

Helsinki Festival introduces the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra, led by conducting sensation Gustavo Dudamel, on the orchestra's first visit to the Nordic countries. A concert performance of Leo‰ Janáãek's rarely seen From the House of the Dead will be conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen. Other rarities are to include a visit by the Belgian conductor Philippe Herreweghe and Juha Uusitalo's Lied debut with Schubert's Winterreise.

Receiving its world premiere at the Festival is Veli-Matti Puumala's new Finnish opera, Anna-Liisa. A classical music anniversary concert will pay tribute to the vitality of Finnish music. Conducted by Sakari Oramo, the concert will feature Einojuhani Rautavaara's Anadyomede, commissioned by the Festival in 1968 and, in keeping with Festival tradition, the Sibelius violin concerto, performed by Elina Vähälä.

World music, powerful voices and village atmosphere at the Huvila Festival Tent

The Huvial Festival Tent will feature music from afrobeat to fado, from ska punk to schlager and from traditional Indian to rock. Launching the Huvila programme are Sweden's charismatic stars Eva Dahlgren and Peter Jöback. The following two nights will groove to an African beat – with Seun Kuti & Egypt '80 serving up energetic afro-funk and the sensuous Rokia Traoré enchanting the audience with her guitar.

Grammy winners The Klezmatics will be performing a set dedicated to the music of Woodie Guthrie. Also taking to the Huvila stage are Fado princess Ana Moura, the flamenco-influenced Estrella Morente and ladino songstress Yasmin Levy. Guitar legend Richard Thompson makes his debut appearance in Finland and the Russian Leningrad will rock the venue with their ska-punk madness.

The Indian Bombay Jayashri and the Avanti! orchestra conducted by John Storgårds are to perform Eero Hämeenniemi's Rain and the Red Earth. Eero Koivistoinen's Valtakunta album from 1968 makes a return, providing the perfect accompaniment to the literary delights on offer at the Night of the Living Poets.

Finnish dance venue favourite, Yölintu, will be driving the audience wild at Huvila's traditional Saturday-night dance. Finnish rock legend Kauko Röyhkä will be joined on stage by Riku Mattila and the Mikkeli City Orchestra. Huvila's Family day creates a village shindig atmosphere – as the young musicians of the Näppärit ensemble from Kaustinen strike up their instruments.

Urban events and cinema

The premiere of Peter von Bagh's city symphony Helsinki, forever kicks off the Helsinki Festival film programme. Free, open-air cinema will again be shown at the Kinopiha square and Orion cinema will screen the entire oeuvre of the Italian Michelangelo Antonioni (1912–2007).

The Night of the Arts takes over Helsinki on Friday 22 August. The largest of the hundreds of events taking place around the city is the free concert at the Senate Square, whisking the audience back to 1968.

Flow Festival will be showcasing urban music at the Suvilahti power plant on 15-17 August and the Poetry Moon will again weave its magic in the city on 16-22 August. Viapori Jazz kicks off at Suomenlinna island on 27-30 August and Art goes Kapakka offers cultural refreshments on 14-23 August.

Special guests Björk, the Berlin Philharmonic and Radu Lupu.

This year, Helsinki Festival gets a head start with a 40th anniversary music extravaganza. The Romanian poet of the piano, Radu Lupu will enchant audiences at the Finlandia Hall on 21 April and the Berlin Philharmonic, conducted by Sir Simon Rattle, will perform in Helsinki on 5 May. Icelandic pop princess Björk will be giving an open-air concert at the Finlandia Park on 10 July.

Tickets sales to start immediately – Baltic Sea still in Festival focus.

Helsinki Festival ticket sales start at noon on Tuesday 15 April at the Lippupiste box office, tel: +358 (0)600 900 900 (e1.50/min+lnc), open 7am to 10pm daily. By donating a e2 supplement, paid directly to the WWF, festival goers can help to conserve the Baltic Sea. In 2007, a total of 2275 Helsinki Festival visitors took action to protect this fragile marine habitat.

Helsinki Festival is brought to you in co-operation with:
-Partners: Helsinki Sanomat, Kemira, S-Group
-Sponsors: Accenture, Eastway, Elisa, Helsingin OP and Taloussanomat

Further information:
- www.helsinkifestival.fi
- Maarit Kivistö, Press Officer