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The concert season 2012-13 has ended and now it is time to have a little break before the summer festivals start! This was a very good season for me all in all, and I was for the first time in my life in charge of my own orchestra, St. Michel Strings which was besides great fun also a great responsibility and a great learning opportunity as well. Me and my orchestra have definitely come closer to a common sound ideal, since concert by concert I have been happier and happier about the result.

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Our subscription season ended last week with a joint concert with the Fantasia wind quintet. This quintet has been around for ten years already, and they have just published their first recording. All the players were familiar to me from my cellist times at the Helsinki Conservatory, so I knew that we will be a good match. We played together some Honegger, Kokkonen and Linde, and this was a good way for us to prepare for our forthcoming trip to Korea and the Great Mountains Music Festival in July.

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Rehearsing Wagner at the Helsinki University Great Hall.

The aforementioned concert was not our last performance this spring, since we were also invited to perform at the Helsinki University to celebrate the 200th birthday of Richard Wagner. We finished the occasion with the Prelude to Tristan and Siegfried Idyll, after which the whole orchestra enjoyed an evening at the Finnish National Opera just for relaxation. My heart was especially warmed by the fact that my old alma mater Helsinki University wanted to present me with the Pacius Award in the same occasion.

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Looking back at this season and the concerts I both conducted and attended as a listener in Mikkeli, I must say I am very happy with all the work we have done together. The word has really gone around and now people around Finland and, yes, around the world know that there is a great string orchestra hidden in the beautiful Mikaeli concert center in eastern Finland. We have already received several invitations to perform abroad and hopefully we can fulfill some of them next season. The challenge remains nevertheless, how to find the support of our local patrons and the city politicians. This means a lot of hard work next season. Classical music, and orchestral music, are things worth fighting for!