As I’m writing this message, it is a very warm July afternoon and the end of summer seems far away in the distant future. We will of course eventually reach the end of summer and return to our everyday routines of work, kids’ school and the many other responsibilities we all have. The new FFSC board will also begin its work around that time, and this year we will have plenty to do. In addition to planning and seeing through the usual annual events, such as the bazaar at the Nordic Heritage Museum and the Independence Day Dinner and Dance, the board will be planning events for the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the birth of Jean Sibelius in 2015.
There will be major events throughout 2015 in Finland, including the 11th International Jean Sibelius Violin Competition, the 3rd International Sibelius Singing Competition, an international conference for Sibelius scholars, the 1st International Jean Sibelius Composition Competition and numerous festivals. In addition to all this, a book about Sibelius containing writings by prominent figures in music, as well as two descendants of Sibelius, will be published. You can find more information about the events and the book on the web at www.sibelius150.org.
Finlandia Foundation National has taken the lead to energize and assist Finlandia Foundation chapters to organize local celebrations, which is fitting since Sibelius was the first patron of the organization. Local events need not be grand, and in fact a big part of the Sibelius centennial anniversary celebrations in 1965 was “the estimated eighty or so community concerts in smaller cities by semi-professional groups who were less familiar with the music of Sibelius.” [Jon L. Saari: “ Ties and Miners’ Boots”]. Eighty local events in addition to concerts in big cities, such as Los Angeles, was quite an accomplishment in 1965 and was probably done with many fewer chapters than there are now!
This fall, the FFSC board will finalize its plans for Sibelius celebrations in the Seattle area. We are fortunate to have a world-class symphony orchestra in Seattle who will be presenting a three-week Sibelius Festival in March, 2015, and we hope to organize some of our events jointly with the symphony’s festival. Details about local and national events will be shared later this year through numerous channels including the FFSC newsletter, this FFSC website as well as the Finlandia Foundation National’s Sibelius Jubilee website.
In addition to Sibelius festivities, next year we will also have the Finland Summer Festival in the Seattle area. This event was first held over 10 years ago in Poulsbo, WA as a counterpart to the Naselle summer festival, with the intent that the Seattle and Naselle festivals be held during alternating summers. Traditionally the event in Seattle has been in August, but planning begins right away at the start of 2015 and we hope that all local Finnish organizations can participate in making the festival a great success.
I hope you will be able to participate in these and many of the other local events during the coming months, and perhaps even celebrate the Sibelius anniversary at a festival in Finland next year.