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My first concert this year was very special, because it was with the Finnish Guards Band. It is not only the flagship orchestra of the Finnish Armed Forces, but it also boasts being the oldest Finnish orchestra still active, being founded in 1819.

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For this concert I was asked to compile a Finnish program, since this year Finland celebrates 100 years of independence and this concert opened the classical series of the Finnish Guards Band. My program was not completely Finnish anyway, since I wanted to take a historical approach and somehow take into account our neighbors Russia and Sweden. So, in addition of the Finnish pieces by Sibelius, Merikanto, Pisto and Eerola we performed the very original piano concerto of the Russian-born Igor Stravinsky, with a Swedish soloist, my friend Martin Malmgren.

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The concert week was very intense, since I was working just ever so slightly outside my comfort zone. The wind orchestra is a very specific instrument and you have to know something about the issues of balance, timbre, dynamics, stamina of the players etc. The seating is different, the scores look different and so on. But these players (of whom I know many personally) are such a joy to work with that in the end I was very happy with the result. The audience seemed to agree with me - the Temple Church was again packed, and I was happy to see so many friends during the intermission and after the concert.

Photos by Marko Nevanperä/Finnish Armed Forces