March is behind us and so are festivities to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Jean Sibelius, at least for now. The celebration started March 1st with the 39th annual Kalevala Day Festival, where the Finnish Choral Society and Maria Mannisto performed music by Sibelius and other Finnish composers. The Seattle Symphony’s three week Sibelius Festival opened on March 12th, which coincided with several activities in the local Finnish community. You can read more about those events elsewhere in this newsletter.
Speaking of anniversaries, 2015 marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of several other well-known Finns: the artists Akseli Gallen-Kallela and Pekka Halonen as well as the photographer I.K. Inha were all born in 1865. They knew each other and Sibelius well, in fact Sibelius and Inha were high school classmates. They all drew inspiration from Kalevala, travelled abroad extensively and from their travels brought back to Finland new ideas and inspirations. In an interesting use of social media the Gallen-Kallela Museum in Espoo, Finland, has created Facebook pages for both Gallen-Kallela and Halonen and provide frequent updates based on what’s known about their lives in 1915. Postings are historically accurate and frequently include photographs. If you’re interested in learning about the lives of these two artists, then go take a look at www.facebook.com/gallenkallela and www.facebook.com/taiteilijapekkahalonen. You do not need to have a Facebook account to read these Facebook pages.
The 75th anniversary of the end of the Winter War was on March 13th, the day when the Moscow Peace Treaty went into effect. In honor of this anniversary, the foundation for a memorial at Kasarmitori in Helsinki was set on March 13th and the actual memorial will be created by the sculptor Pekka Kauhanen over the next two years. The memorial will be revealed in 2017, the year of Finland’s centennial. For information about the Winter War I suggest the www.talvisota.fi website, although the content is in Finnish only.
And finally, the last anniversary that I will mention in this president’s message: Seattlen Suomi Koulu – The Finnish School of Seattle – will celebrate its 20th birthday later this year. Suomi Koulu in Seattle was started by Airi Suomalainen in 1995 and met at the Finnish Lutheran Church when Auvo Naukkarinen was the pastor of that church. Suomi Koulu has been an important part of the local Finnish community from its beginning and continues to serve many, many local families.
The annual meeting of Finlandia Foundation Seattle Chapter will be held at the Swedish Club (1920 Dexter Ave. N. Seattle) on Wednesday April 22nd at 6:30 PM. You are all welcome to attend the meeting and stay afterward for the presentation of the film Sotalapset (War Children), a documentary by Erja Dammert that uses archival footage and interviews by surviving participants to personalize the story of the 70,000 Finnish children who were sent abroad, primarily to Sweden, during the Winter and Continuation Wars.