Updated: Mar 11
Free concert at the Helsinki Cathedral on March 30th 2023. Helsinki Chamber Orchestra | Viva Vox Choir | James S. Kahane, conductor. Get your free tickets here!
The French Institute of Finland and the Helsinki Chamber Orchestra in collaboration with the Embassies of Romania, Belgium, Switzerland and Canada, invite you to the Francophonia Concert on Thursday March 30, 2023 at 7 p.m. in the Cathedral of Helsinki! Romania, which is celebrating 30 years of joining the International Organization of La Francophonie, is the guest of honor at the event.
The annual Francofonia concert is a recurring yearly event that has taken place since the creation of the orchestra. It celebrates the “Month of Francophonie”, an important event for the French speaking countries around the world. The Helsinki Chamber Orchestra collaborates for the occasion with the French Institute in Finland and the French Embassy in Finland, to propose a concert centered around French and/or Finnish Music, as well as a guest country specially highlighted every year. This year, the concert will have as a guest of honor Romania, and feature for the occasion the Romanian Folk Dances by Béla Bartók. The event will culminate with the performance of Duruflé’s Requiem with the Viva Vox Choir. Notably, the concert will take place at the Helsinki Cathedral (“the White Cathedral”), and be entirely free to access. The concert will be conducted by the orchestra's principal conductor, James S. Kahane.
Béla Bartók: Romanian Folk Dances
Ciprian Porumbescu: Balada
Maurice Duruflé: Requiem
Béla Bartók: Romanian Folk Dances
During the late 19th century, Hungarian-style music was widely utilized by major composers such as Brahms and Liszt in their most famous works. Liszt, who was born in Hungary but spent much of his life outside of his homeland, often incorporated Hungarian inflections, sometimes referred to as "gypsy style," into his compositions. Among Liszt's most notable works in this genre are the nineteen Hungarian Rhapsodies, which ended up being so popular that they traveled the world in many different iterations (especially the Second Rhapsody) appearing even in cartoons such as Convict Concerto played by Woody Woodpecker and “Rhapsody Rabbit”, by Bugs Bunny. The Rhapsodies’ popularity has been unquenchable on almost any level. Brahms’ Hungarian Dances paid tribute to the Hungarian style in 21 dances. He became interested in Hungarian gypsy music after hearing it in Hamburg and touring with Hungarian violinist Eduard Remenyi.
However, Bartók and Kodály noted that this "Hungarian style" was based on romanticized depictions of gypsy music rather than authentic Hungarian folk music. This issue, known as "the problem of Hungarian music," was addressed by many writers and ultimately resolved through the extensive research of Bartók and Kodály. A fine study titled Redefining Hungarian Music from Liszt to Bartók by Lynn M. Hooker traces their investigations:
Traveling throughout the most remote regions of Hungary, Bartók and Kodály transcribed, saved, recorded on an “Edison” phonograph, and classified thousands of folk tunes which provided tunes, rhythms, harmonies, and ideas for their compositions (Bartók’s opera Duke Bluebeard’s Castle, for example) as well as scholarly monographs and a gigantic set of twelve volumes containing their research. The intent was to provide examples of, foundation for, and a renaissance of authentic Hungarian music.
The two composers also ventured to Transylvania, which was part of Hungary at the time but is nowadays part of Romania since 1920, where Bartók became particularly interested in the more isolated and authentic Romanian folk traditions.
The Romanian Dances were written between 1915-1917, first for piano and later orchestrated. In order, the Dances are:
Dance with Sticks: a solo dance for a young man, which includes kicking the ceiling
Waistband Dance: derived from a spinning song with dancers holding each other’s waists, flowing directly into dance 3
On the Spot: a dance in which the participants basically stamp on one spot.
Hornpipe Dance: featuring the ancient Mixolydian mode (a type of scale) and Arabian colors
Romanian Polka: a children’s dance with changing meters, flowing directly into the final dance
Fast Dance: fast, tiny steps are performed by couples, used as a courting dance.
See the full score here: Romanian Folk Dances (original version for piano)
Ciprian Porumbescu: Balada
Ciprian Porumbescu's "Balada" is an iconic piece of Romanian music: originally for Violin and Piano, this version is rearranged for solo violin and orchestra. Written in 1880, this hauntingly beautiful work is a perfect example of Porumbescu's ability to weave together traditional Romanian folk melodies with the influence of Western classical music.
The "Balada" begins with a simple, mournful melody played by the orchestra, before leaving way for the solo violin. As the piece progresses, the melody becomes increasingly complex and ornamented, with intricate violin runs and soaring horn lines that add to the sense of drama and emotion.
Porumbescu's use of traditional Romanian melodies gives the "Balada" a distinctive flavor that sets it apart from other works in the classical canon. The piece is rooted in the rich musical traditions of Romania, but it also shows Porumbescu's mastery of the Western classical form.
Despite its popularity, the "Balada" is not without its challenges for the solo performer. The intricate ornamentation and demanding technical passages require a high level of skill and musicianship from the soloist, but when executed correctly, the piece is a true showcase of musicality.
Maurice Duruflé: Requiem
Like his mentor, Dukas, Duruflé was incredibly self-effacing, and spent considerable time re-working his compositions until they achieved what he felt was the correct level of perfection; in fact, there are only 14 published Opus numbers to his name. Duruflé's early musical training was at the cathedral in Rouen, where there was a famous school of Gregorian chant. This repertory of liturgical song had become something of a French speciality in the 19th century, and among the scholars working on the chants were a group of Benedictines at the French monastery of Solesmes, who developed a theory of chant rhythm as a free succession of notes of mostly equal value in groups of two and three.
The Solesmes school of chant restoration and performance achieved widespread acceptance in the Catholic church and even some Protestant congregations. After a thorough steeping in this tradition, Duruflé came to Paris and studied at the Conservatoire, where he confronted the tradition of Fauré, Debussy, and Ravel. When he came to write his Requiem in 1947, like the earliest composers of polyphonic Requiems, Duruflé took the Gregorian plainchant Mass for the Dead as his raw material. His declared intention was 'to reconcile, as far as possible, Gregorian rhythm…with the exigencies of modern meter.' That is, he did not transcribe literally the original melodies with their irregular alternation of twos and threes; he adjusted the rhythms subtly so that larger metric patterns emerge, but still he allowed the meter to shift frequently so that a sense of spontaneity is preserved. At the same time, he clothed the sometimes archaic-sounding melodies in sophisticated harmonies of the early modern school. Although he came from a different liturgical tradition, Duruflé used similar texts to those used by Fauré in his requiem.
The piece is in the true tendresse style, leaving out the chilling full Dies Irae and accentuating the aspect of forgiveness through the inclusion of a separate Pie Jesu and through constant repetition of the phrase 'Requiem aeternam dona eis Domine'. Duruflé published the Requiem in three versions: for organ alone; for full orchestra and for organ and string quintet with harp, trumpets and timpani ad libitum.
Collegium Musicum of London
Choir: Viva Vox
The chamber choir Viva Vox was founded in the spring of 1992. Since1994, it has been the chamber choir of the Helsinki Cathedral. The choir is conducted by Seppo Murto.
The purpose of Viva Vox is to revive and maintain a lively interest in choral music of different periods. The repertory includes both old and contemporary Finnish and foreign music. Viva Vox has recorded new Finnish sacred music by Erik Bergman, Einojuhani Rautavaara and Jyrki Linjama.
Besides church services Viva Vox gives concerts in Helsinki and elsewhere in Finland. The choir has performed in Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, Estonia, Iceland, Hungary and Sweden.
The repertory of Viva Vox today encompasses church music throughout the ages, such as the Mass in B minor by J.S. Bach, the German Requiem by Johannes Brahms, Requiems by W.A. Mozart, Gabriel Fauré and Joonas Kokkonen and Petite Messe Solennelle by Gioachino Rossini. Smaller works, like cantatas by J.S. Bach and D. Buxtehude and a wide array of a cappella choir works are included in the repertory, too. Two major works, The Dream of Gerontius by Edward Elgar and War Requiem by Benjamin Britten were included in the choir's repertory in 2014 and 2017.
The choir has performed in a new Finnish opera "Luther" composed by Kari Tikka, in close association with The Finnish National Opera.
Violin: Ion Buinovschi
Ion Buinovschi (b. 1975) was born in Moldova to a family of musicians. He began playing the violin when he was 5 years old, and in the beginning he studied under his parents Galina and Nikolai Buinovschi’s tutelage in Moldova. His final academic degree Buinovschi completed in National University of Music Bucharest in Romania under the tutelage of Stefan Gheorgiu. His master’s degree Buinovschi completed in Rowan University in New Jersey, USA in 2001 under the tutelage of Michael Ludwig.
Buinovschi won a national violin competition in Moldova in 1993, and he won the 3rd prize in Jeunesses Musicales -competition in Romania in 1994. In 2001, he got the 3rd prize in a competition organized by the Music Teachers National Association in Washington D.C.
Buinovschi has lived in Finland since 2003. He has worked in the Oulu Symphony Orchestra and in the Turku Philharmonic Orchestra. Since 2007 Buinovschi has been the 1st concertmaster in the Pori City Orchestra. He has performed as the first violin player in Palmgren Quartet since it was established.
Buinovschi has performed as a soloist and a chamber musician all over the world. In 2014 he was given a grant by Pro Musica Säätiö for his meritorious artistic work.
Soprano: Inka Kinnunen
Inka Kinnunen is a soprano, choir conductor and organist who has been working at the Helsinki Cathedral Parish since 2014. She has been the artistic director of Helsinki Cathedral Chamber Choir Viva Vox since 2019 (except for autumn 2022).
Kinnunen studied church music at the Sibelius Academy and then went on to study singing and chamber music at the Conservatory of Strasbourg. After this Kinnunen continued her choral conducting studies with Timo Nuoranne at Sibelius Academy and orchestral conducting at International Sasha Mäkilä Conducting Masterclasses. She has continued vocal studies privately and completed the A degree in singing in 2021.
Kinnunen has performed as a soloist in numerous oratorios, e.g. Matthew Passion and Christmas Oratorio by Bach, Messiah by Handel, Requiem by Mozart, Fauré and Duruflé and Elias Oratorio by Mendelssohn. She has also performed as a soloist with many baroque ensembles and orchestras.
Baritone: Luke Scott
Luke Terence Scott is a Scottish baritone whom has recently graduated with a Masters of Music in Opera from the Sibelius Academy under the tutelage of Hannu Niemelä. Scott is also an alumni of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and the Royal Northern College of Music.
Scott’s operatic roles include the world debut of Borys Slykovtich in Uljas Pulkkis’s opera All the Truths We Cannot See performed both in Helsinki and Los Angeles, David L’amico Fritz, Sid Albert Herring, Guglielmo Cosìfan tutte, Ben The Telephone and City Marshall Henry Street Scene. Scott is looking forward to making his debut at Savonlinna Opera festival as Paris in Roméo et Juliette.
On the concert and competition stages, Scott was heard at the Palais Garnier in France, where he was a finalist in the 7th edition of the Paris Opera Competition. Familiar in competitions, he has been a finalist in the Havets Röst, Elizabeth Harwood Prize and a semi-finalist in the Vincerò World Singing Competition, Hjördis Schymberg Award and Helsinki Lied. He has sung as a soloist for Savonlinna opera festival*, Helsinki Chamber Orchestra*, Sinfonia Lahti, Buxton International Festival, London Symphony Orchestra’s CommunityChoir and Sibelius Academy Symphony Orchestra.
Throughout his career so far and whilst being a Young Artist at Buxton International Festival, he has had the pleasure of working with conductors such as Markus Lehtinen, Adrian Kelly, Stephen Barlow, Nickolas Kok, Chloé Dufresne and Pierre-Michel Durand amongst others.
Scott has participated in Masterclasses with Patrick Fournillier, Jorma Hynninen, Soile Isokoski, Juha Uusitalo, Kevin Murphy, Kamal Khan, Sir Mark Elder, Sir John Tomlinson and Roderick Williams OBE.
Scott is proud to have had his studies and career generously supported by the Finnish National Opera foundation, Taike, the Martin Wegelius Foundation, Selim Eskelin Foundation, Oopperan Kummit RY, Scottish International Education Trust, Caird Trust, the Leverhulme Trust and finally, the Hope Scott Trust.
Conductor: James S. Kahane
A refined and passionate conductor, James S. Kahane has been invited to lead many first-class orchestras such as the Finnish Radio Orchestra, the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, the Lucerne Festival Strings and the Gstaad Festival Orchestra. He is a founding member as well as principal conductor of the Helsinki Chamber Orchestra, a Finnish orchestra born in the fall of 2018 and specializing in repertoire for chamber orchestra. Since this same year he is also conductor of the Finnish Polytechnic Orchestra.
Previously he was appointed, at the age of 21, as Susanna Mälkki's assistant conducto at the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra. Among the orchestras he has conducted are the Lahti Symphony Orchestra, the Ostrobothnia Chamber Orchestra, the Tapiola Sinfonietta, the Jyväskylä Sinfonia, the St. Michael's String Orchestra, the Triangle Orchestra, the Orchestre de la Francophonie, the Glasperlenspiel Sinfonietta, the Pori Sinfonietta, the Joensuu City Orchestra, the Järvi Academy Symphony Orchestra, the Lithuanian State Orchestra and the Rehovot Symphony Orchestra.
James studied in Sakari Oramo's renowned conducting class at the Sibelius Academy, where he was accepted at the age of 19. At the same time, James has benefited from the teaching of major conductors such as Paavo Järvi, David Zinman, Peter Eötvös, Matthias Pintscher, Sir Roger Norrington, John Storgårds, Mikko Franck, Leif Segerstam, Johannes Schlaefli, Nicolas Pasquet, Yoav Talmi, Colin Metters, Adrian McDonnell and Jorma Panula.
During the last seasons, James was selected from over three hundred and sixty applicants to participate in Bernard Haitink's conducting masterclass at the Lucerne Music Festival, the prestigious Tanglewood Music Festival, and the 2017 Deutsche Dirigentenpreis (German Grand Prix for Conductors), where he was one of twelve applicants chosen to conduct the WDR Symphony Orchestra as well as the Gürzenich Orchestra in Cologne. Previously, he was the youngest candidate selected for the Menuhin Festival in Gstaad, where he was chosen by Neeme Järvi to conduct one of the official concerts of the festival.
Since 2016, James is also the conductor of the Far(away) Ensemble, a modular and multidisciplinary group with which he recorded Jacopo Aliboni's music for the short films "Du Temps Perdu" and "Le Temps Prend Feu", among which the second one was officially selected for the Sarajevo Film Festival, the Cefalù Film Festival, the Guiar Festival as well as the seventy-second Cannes Film Festival.
The Finnish broadcasting channel YLE dedicated one of three portraits of promising conductors from the Sibelius Academy to him in 2018. The documentary was released in the Finnish movie theaters in Spring 2020.