Pekka Kuusisto celebrates 100 years of Finnish independence

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This is a big year for Finland. On 6 December the Scandinavian nation celebrates 100 years of independence, with homes from Tampere to Tornio set to be decked out in the blue and white of the Finnish flag.

Paying his own special tribute to this milestone is the popular classical musician Pekka Kuusisto. A curious, and collaborative artist, Kuusisto has performed with, and composed for, musicians from diverse backgrounds, often fusing the worlds of electronica and classical in his works.

Finnish Folk Music - Pekka Kuusisto Home Video - July 2017 (Philharmonia Orchestra)

From now until December, the Finnish violinist is celebrating the centenary of his homeland by performing a series of Finnish folk tunes at his home in Espoo. By delivering the monthly performances at the same time of day, Kuusisto invites audiences to join him in watching the Nordic nights draw in across autumn and into winter, starting with the video above.

Everyone’s hands are unique, which means everyone should make an individual sound. It such a waste when musicians resort to some kind of glossy default
Pekka Kuusisto, speaking to The Herald in 2016

But you needn’t rely solely on video for your fix of Kuusisto, as this September the violinist comes to Southbank Centre, as part of Nordic Music Days.

On 28 September, Kuusisto takes to the Royal Festival Hall stage with the Philharmonia Orchestra, conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen. THe will perform the UK premiere of a new Violin Concerto by Icelandic composer Daniel Bjarnason. The concert also features two short symphonies by Jean Sibelius, a key figure in Finland's journey to independence, and Anna Thorvaldsdottir's atmospheric soundscape Aeriality.

Not content with giving one performance for a Southbank Centre audience, Kuusisto follows this by giving a free post-concert performance the same evening; joining vocalist Ilona Korhonen to present a contemporary perspective on Finnish folk music.

These two performances, part of our Nordic Matters series, offer a great opportunity, to discover the talents of this versatile and charismatic Finnish musician.

Esa-Pekka Salonen: Sibelius 

Finnish Runosong with Pekka Kuusisto and Ilona Korhonen