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From Finland with history and harmony

THE Lahti Symphony Orchestra, established in 1949, is now regarded as the world's finest exponent of the works of Sibelius. The orchestra is arriving in Shanghai soon. Nie Xin listens to its history.

Music enthusiasts are in for a real treat when the Lahti Symphony Orchestra from Finland performs a concert dedicated to the works of its homeland composer Jean Sibelius.

The acclaimed orchestra will be on stage at the Shanghai Concert Hall on May 7 and will perform a finely balanced program of Sibelius' works, including "Rakastava ('The Lover'), Op. 14," "The Violin Concerto in D Minor, Op. 47," "Scene with Cranes" and "Symphony No. 7, Op. 105."

It's a program that not just reflects the range of the music but the tonal qualities and precision of the orchestra itself.

The Lahti Symphony Orchestra was established in 1949 to continue the work of, among others, the Lahti Music Friends' Orchestra which had existed since 1910.

Osmo Vanska has been the chief conductor of the orchestra since 1988 - from 1985 he was the orchestra's main guest conductor. Years of persistent work under his leadership have made the Lahti one of the most renowned orchestras in the Nordic countries.

World-renowned conductor Jukka-Pekka Saraste has been leading the orchestra since August 2008. The Lahti offers its audiences memorable experiences, both in concert and on disc, presenting the highest quality of music and a deep understanding of the works at the same time.

The Lahti has released more than 50 recordings. As well as Sibelius, the complete orchestral works of Joonas Kokkonen, an honorary member of the orchestra, have also been recorded. Others composers featured by the orchestra include Uuno Klami and Einojuhani Rautavaara.

The Lahti's premiere recording of the original version of Sibelius' "Violin Concerto" was the first classical music disc to achieve the Golden Record Award in Finland. Its Sibelius recordings alone have been awarded two Gramophone Awards (1991 and 1996), the Grand Prix du Disque (1993) and the Cannes Classical Award twice (1997 and 2001).

Other Golden Record winners for the orchestra are the albums "Finlandia" - a festival of Finnish music, "Christmas Wonderland" in 1998 and an album of Finnish hymns in 2001.

In Shanghai, Finnish conductor Okko Tapani Kamu will take the baton.

Kamu was born into a family of musicians in 1946. His father played double bass in the Helsinki Philharmonic. Kamu was a prodigy, learning the violin at a very early age and entered the Sibelius Academy at the age of six.

Kamu is currently principal guest conductor of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra.

He has also been music director of the Finnish National Opera and the Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra, as well as a permanent guest conductor of the Lausanne Chamber Orchestra.

Violinist Ilya Gringolts, winner of the 1998 International Violin Competition "Premio Paganini," will be the soloist.

Gringolts was awarded two special prizes as the youngest-ever competitor to be placed in the final and the best interpreter of Paganini's difficult "Caprices."

Date: May 7, 7:30pm

Venue: Shanghai Concert Hall, 523 Yan'an Rd E.

Tickets: 180-980 yuan

Tel: 6386-2836


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