The Brightest Musical Event of the Outgoing Winter

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Big Music for Small Cities

The February part of the 40th anniversary Joensuu Winter Music Festival has ended. The event was organized by the Joensuu City Orchestra together with the local music community with the support of the Big Music for Small Cities project of the Karelia Cross-Border Cooperation Programme. 

The concept of the festival has undergone changes caused by the pandemic restrictions. But the organizers managed to find ways for their viewers to take pleasure in the existing conditions, and even were able to expand the audience, because most of the events were held online and in live broadcasts.

The Big Music for Small Cities project took a direct part in the anniversary festival.

Thanks to the project support, the festival went through rebranding. As a result of this work, a new visual style and relevant formats of promotion appeared. In addition, new equipment was installed in the Karelia hall. Online broadcasts of concerts by invited groups - the Big Band and Frigg were a great success during the festival.

The central events of this year's festival were two world premieres of the music written by a Finnish and three Russian composers commissioned by the Big Music for Small Cities project.

On the eve of the premieres, the project prepared and released films with interviews, in which composers and the team members shared their impressions of the creative work of creating unique music.

And the music premieres themselves took place online on February 26 and 28.

On February 26, the premiere demonstration of the Joensuu City Orchestra recording of the Helsinki composer Cecilia Damström’s work Nixus op. 75 took place.

As part of the Big Music for Small Cities project, Cecilia Damström created music on an acute social issue. The Latin word “nixus” can translate as effort, pressure or strain. Cecilia Damström's music is dedicated to everyone who suffers from mental illness of any form.

 “In my work I try to show how thoughts can jump back and forth at lightning speed. Sometimes these restless thoughts form a kind of wheel - a vicious circle, from which it is difficult to break out…”– says Cecilia about her work.
More information about the symphonic work by Cecilia Damström, as well as interviews with the members of the project team in Joensuu, can be found here:

On February 28, on the Kalevala Day, the Symphony Orchestra of the Karelian State Philharmonic presented its live concert program online. The concert included Suite on the themes of Kalevala by the Karelian composer Roine Rautio and the Karelia Suite by the master of Finnish music Jean Sibelius. The grandiose finale of the concert was Karelia Suite - a collective work of three Russian composers. Each of the three parts of the suite - "Myths and Legends of the Karelian Land" by Ilya Kuznetsov, "White Night on a Forest Lake" by Pavel Karmanov, "Aurora Borelias" by Alexey Kurbatov - are poetic pictures of the harsh and beautiful northern nature.

The film about the Karelian Suite can be viewed here:

The recording of the concert program is available until March 7 at the link:

For the project team and partners, the format of live music broadcast in combination with a light show, tested for the first time in Karelia with the participation of such a large group as a symphony orchestra, has become a useful experience and has created interesting prospects for further development.

The Big Music for Small Cities project expresses gratitude to composers Cecilia Damström, Ilya Kuznetsov, Pavel Karmanov, Alexey Kurbatov, the Joensuu City Orchestra and the Symphonic orchestra of the Karelian State Philharmonic and personally the conductors
Eero Lehtimäki and Alexey Nyaga, Karelia CBC Programme financed by the European Union, the Russian Federation and the Republic of Finland, Joensuu City and the Joensuu Winter Music Festival, Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Karelia, Karelian State Philharmonic and Production Center SMK.

The organizers and artists of the festival are waiting for their spectators in summer to continue the festival program.

Let us recall the brightest moments of the events of the Big Music for Small Cities project in the February part of the Joensuu anniversary festival in social media: