Welcome to Sibafest!



Sibafest, the festival showcasing what is going on at the Sibelius Academy, is now in its seventh year, peeping out of the margins and ready to tickle your musical fancy.

We are tackling a serious topic, because the centenary of the Finnish Civil War of 1918 calls for it. We must understand what happened back then, but we must also be able to turn the pain and anguish into building blocks of peace. Just consider how relevant it is today to understand #KANSALAISRAUHA [civil peace], as we are plagued by uncertainty about what tomorrow will bring.

The entire purpose of what our international institution, the Sibelius Academy of the University of the Arts Helsinki, does is to achieve wellbeing and resonance between human hearts through the means of art. We do so by providing top-quality tuition and showcasing young talent as much as possible. We also want to present what our teachers are doing at our satellite units in Kuopio and Seinäjoki.

We want the Music Centre to be vibrant and alive throughout – including the corridors and foyers – for the duration of the festival. Therefore we begin on 27 January with a family day, where children are invited to swarm into the Music Centre and music education teachers and students will show what they can do. With this feelgood kickoff, Sibafest invites us to join hands and sing together, from heart to heart! The evening ends with a world music project where the Sibelius Academy Folk Big Band & Global Orchestra, with folk musicians and students from the Global Music training programme, perform with Pekko Käppi, who boldly goes beyond genre boundaries.

History is brought to life on 26–28 January with performances of A Soldier’s Tale by Igor Stravinsky, originally premiered in 1918. The production is created by Theatre Academy students with chamber musicians from the Sibelius Academy. An electrifying note is injected into winter darkness on 29 January with the Murhaballadeja 2018 [Murder Ballads] performance by Heikki Laitinen and Kimmo Pohjonen, an updated version of their already legendary blood-curdling production.

In addition to the Music Centre, there are performances at nearby churches: a church service at Kallio Church on 28 January with the music of Mozart – sung by everyone – and the oratorio The Triumph of Time and Truth by Händel at the Old Church on 1 February, a wonderful work rarely heard in our neighbourhood.

Sibafest includes a series of talks and panel discussions, beginning with the Oskar Merikanto 150 concert on 30 January. The series of four panel discussions involves topics such as the role of the artist in society, the role of public funding – and what an artist’s approach to war should be. The year 1918 was fatal for Toivo Kuula, but also vicariously for Leevi Madetoja. Teemu Keskisarja gives talks on both composers, whom he has studied extensively.

On the last day of the festival, 3 February, pianist Janne Oksanen performs the complete works for piano by Toivo Kuula. The concluding concert on the same evening is given by the Sibelius Academy Symphony Orchestra, conducted by myself. The programme features the Cello Concerto of Sauli Zinovjev, hot off the press, and Romeo and Juliet by Serge Prokofiev; the third work on the programme is Leevi Madetoja’s Second Symphony, written in memory of his brother Yrjö, who fell in the Civil War.

Join hands with us and come enjoy the Civil Peace!

Atso Almila, artistic director
Sibafest 2018