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Perhaps the most interesting project this summer went by the name of SMO - which could either mean "Sorjonen-Mäkilä-orchestra" or even "Sasha Mäkilä Orchestra". This project started by the initiative of pianist Alina Sorjonen who wanted to gather together a group of musician friends for a performance of Rachmaninoff's 2nd piano concerto. I promised to conduct the orchestra if we could program Sibelius 1st symphony, and brought some of my friends with me - and suddenly we had a symphony orchestra of 65 people who wanted to play this great repertoire! The remarkable thing in this was, that we had no budget, no sponsors, nothing to attract players to this project - except the promise of a couple of days of great music making.

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And how it paid off! We did not only have fun rehearsals in a supportive atmosphere where everyone could do their best, but when the concert day came we saw the Temppeliaukio church more crowded than it has ever been. With seating capacity of seven hundred there were about a hundred more people listening to the concert standing up. It was of course a free concert, but audience wise it couldn't have been better. The concert went well and we even got a standing ovation in the end.

Now, it seems like this concert was not a one-off but it sparked a start of a whole new orchestra! Many players came to me after the concert telling how much fun they had and hoping that we do this soon again, and as I am writing this there are already many plans underway - first another concert in Helsinki, then maybe repeating the program in some other city, and finally taking the orchestra on tour if we manage to keep the enthusiasm up. And we have to think about the name too. Or maybe SMO is just fine? Any suggestions?