Trip to Finland

August 25, 2012 12:13

Musicians of the King's Road hired me to play glass armonica with their ensemble—specifically the Mozart Armonica Quintet (K617) and other music by Wolfgang's contemporaries. Their website is here:

I left my house at about 5pm on Saturday Aug 11, and changed planes in London. As we were landing in London it was strange to look down and see everyone driving on the 'wrong' side of the road. Obviously I have seen Brits driving on the left countless times on TV and movies, but in person it just seemed strange all over again. The pilot even landed the plane on the left-hand side of the runway! (Just kidding!)

I arrived in Helsinki 9pm on Sunday—a change of 10 time zones. My brane was mush! I walked up to the passport guard:

Guard: "Are you here for business or pleasure?"

Me: "Business—I'm here to play a couple of concerts."

Guard: "Uh, huh. Are you performing with someone?"

Me: "Why yes, but I have absolutely no idea how to pronounce their name in Finnish... but I have my itinerary right here in my briefcase!"

Guard: "That's OK. Where are you performing?"

Me: "In Turku and R.... R..... it starts with R but I can't remember the name. But it's right here in my briefcase!"

Guard: "Uh huh. And where are you staying?"

Me: "My hosts are putting me up in a hotel in Turku, called the... called the... I can't remember! But it's right here in my briefcase!"

Guard: "That's O.K. Welcome to Finland!" (I'm thinking if this had been Homeland Security in the U.S., they'd already have me in a little room with bright lights!)

So now I need to get through customs—always fun with a glass armonica. Wait—there's a fork—to the left a sign says "Nothing to declare" and leads out to the street. To the right is a booth labeled "Something to declare" but it's closed. Apparently they'd would rather be home with their families on a slow Sunday evening than worry about folks with 'something to declare'. I'm liking this place!

The pace of everything in Finland felt slower. Check out the elevator buttons in my hotel: there's the button to open the doors, but there isn't one to close them (as is universal in the U.S.)—I guess you just have to wait until the elevator feels like closing the doors!

The second concert is in the "Fireman's Hall"—so called because the fire department built it, and the fire station is actually in the basement!

Here's the performance in the same hall:

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="550"] Armonica Performance in Turku, Finland[/caption]

To make more space on the stage they have the back leg of the old Bluthner concert grand on a trestle (I've never seen anything like that done before):

Here's the poster for my concerts:

And here are the programs for the two concerts:

Musicians of the King's Road, chamber ensemble

William Zeitler, glass harmonica

Vera Välimäki, Leonore Prohaska

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart:

Adagio für Harmonika KV 356 (KV 617a)

Adagio und Rondo für Harmonika KV 617

Johann Friedrich Reichardt:


Ludwig van Beethoven:

Musik zu Friedrich Dunker's Drama: Leonore Prohaska, Melodram

Karl Leopold Röllig:

Kleine Tonstücke für die Harmonika, Grave

Joseph Aloys Schmittbauer:

Adagio für die Harmonika

Bernhard Romberg:

Divertimento sopra un tema Finlandico e Sueco

Quatuor dédié à Joseph Haydn, Op.1

William Zeitler:

"Prelude to an Enigma"

The Finnish Glass Museum, Riihimäki

Wednesday 15 August 2012 at 7 p.m.

- Pre-concert event at 6 p.m.

Tickets: 15 €

Musicians of the King's Road

Markus Yli-Jokipii, conductor

William Zeitler, glass harmonica

Vera Välimäki, Leonore Prohaska

Singers from the CCI choir

The Night of the Arts 2012

In co-operation with: Leluliike Casagrande

- toy merchandise in Turku since 1912

J.G. Niederegger / Palotron Oy

- Marzipan with love - since 1806


Bernhard Romberg:

Toy symphony

Johann Friedrich Reichardt:


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart:

Adagio für Harmonika KV 356 (KV 617a)

Adagio und Rondo für Harmonika KV 617

Leopold Mozart:

Toy symphony

Ludwig van Beethoven:

Musik zu Friedrich Dunker's Drama: Leonore Prohaska, Melodram

VPK-talo, Eskelinkatu 5, Turku

Thursday 16 August, 2012 at 8 p.m.

The series of concerts that presents rare historical instruments begins.

Tickets: 25/20/15 €

And where would we be with out Esko? He's the 'muscle' for various musical organizations in Turku—setting up the chairs, taking down the chairs, etc. etc. No orchestra can function without someone like this, and apparently he has been all over the world helping various Finnish music organizations. He was very helpful slogging my own equipment too—we managed just fine even though he doesn't speak a word of English nor I of Finnish. Here we are standing in front of the Fireman's Hall:

Between recovering from jet lag and trying to function at rehearsals and performances I wasn't able to see much. But I did see a few things:

Amongst other things, Markus took me to see the Turku Cathedral, which has been functioning for some 800 years. Fortunately someone was practicing the organ so I was able to hear a little of it:

I guess when ordinary gas isn't good enough, you should buy "God's Gas":

And there are three MacDonalds in all of Turku. But these HesBurger stands are everywhere. I of course tried one—hmm, I think HesBurger is the ONE thing I won't miss about Finland!

Sami had sent me the tourist book for Turku, and the picture for this chapel caught my eye. It's called St. Henry's Ecumenical Art Chapel, and Sami was kind enough to take me to see it. Doesn't look like that much from the outside—designed to resemble a ship (upside down):

But inside was spectacular!

And here are my hosts: Markus Yli-Jokipii (left, Music Director) and Sami Palsio (right, Chief Executive)

All in all it was a really great trip. The concerts went well, everyone was really friendly and professional, and Musicians of the King's Road was a really great organization to work with: the players were solid, and Markus and Sami had everything under complete control. Concert trips can't go much better than this!

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