Sounds of Luosto: Myths and stories told with classical music in Finnish Lapland
By Ester Laiho | Photos: Kalle Arsalo
What happens if you combine Finnish nature and classical music? This is what the group of classical musicians and music lovers who established the Kuusikko soi association set out to discover. Their creation, the Sounds of Luosto festival, will take place for the second time on 27-31 July this summer.
The story of Sounds of Luosto dates back to 2018, when conductor and violinist Aku Sorensen was up in Lapland giving a recital. After his performance, he enjoyed dinner with some locals, discussing what a shame it was that another classical music festival had its last run, with no one to carry on the legacy.
The group set out to organise a series of concerts in the area and to go from there, as Sorensen explains: “The idea of a future summer festival was brought up a few times, but it was very much just a twinkle in our eyes: we would start small.”
Fast-forward to the spring of 2022, and Sorensen, now artistic director of the festival, is looking forward to the summer with a new theme and even more concerts and activities lined up. This year’s theme, Stories and Myths, will bring together works from over 40 composers, written on all six inhabited continents and representing tales from cultures all over the world in 17 concerts. The international assortment of acts is set in the beautiful nature of the region of Luosto and Sodankylä, where the festival will be held again this year. Concert venues include the Sodankylä old church and unique outdoor stages, most notably the natural auditorium on Ukko-Luosto.
The setting earned rave reviews from the performers last year. Sorensen convinced the performers to join him to climb to the top of the Luosto fell the first night they arrived. “I will never forget one of our pianists turning to me at the top of the fell, declaring: ‘Well, this festival was already worth it’.” The audiences noted the unique surroundings, too: in the stands of Ukko-Luosto, it is possible to pick blueberries while listening to concerts.
Sorensen explains that locals speak of the Miracle of Luosto. The previous festival had an impeccable track record with good weather. It continued last year, as it will this year: “Last year’s concert started off overcast before the sun burst through the clouds at the peak of Sibelius’s 5th Symphony, accompanied by the poignant birdsong of Siberian jays, which serve as the mascots of our festival. The spirit of the fell looks out for us, and it definitely has a flair for the dramatic.”
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