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Wednesday 27 June 2007

St. Petersburg update - pics and a review

I received today two photos of my concert in St. Petersburg last month (thanks, Anna!), as well as a link to a review in Russian. I did not have time yet to read the review, but in case it says any nice things about the concert I might translate a couple of lines into English!

I put the photos in the entry where they belong. Enjoy!

UPDATE! The link to the review is no longer working, but here are the essential bits translated into English:

Sasha Mäkilä conducted the orchestra, holding in his hands the golden threads which linked the rhythmically organized sounds of the Sibelius Symphony No. 3 in C Major to each and every bow and string... And by the third movement "Moderato" of the symphony had conquered the hearts of the St. Petersburg public. This evening did not fail expectations, but delighted us with fresh impressions and new emotions.

Videomusic journal (St. Petersburg, Russia) Anna Poluektova

Sunday 17 June 2007

Music festival has ended

Last night we had the final concert of the Hot Springs Music Festival. The program was Ma Vlast (Moldau) by Bedrich Smetana, An die schönen blauen Donau by Johann Strauss, and the 8th symphony of Antonin Dvorak. The orchestra, consisting of music students and their mentors, did a great job! Especially the brass was shining that night, much to thanks to inspiring coaching by the trumpet mentor Scott Moore.

Festival Horns
The Festival Horns! Photo by A.S.

Besides the concert, I witnessed one remarkable trait of American character. The festival runs mostly on the donations made by private citizens, and before the concert it was announced that there is a "grant challenge" of 5000 USD made by one donor, and for the festival to get it, the audience should be able to match it by their collective donations during the 2 festival weeks. The challenge was short of only something like 500 bucks from the goal, but during that one intermission the audience came up with 4000 USD in donations! Four thousand! That means that every member of the audience contributed by something like 10 dollars average. This kind of generosity and supportive spirit I would like to see in Finland also!

Willie and Beth
Festival players Willie (cello) and Beth (violin). Photo by A.S.

After the concert we of course had a little party and said goodbye to those friends who were leaving already by night. I also sorted some orchestral parts with Case and Dana (the other two conducting students), but that job (for which we were asked to reserve two whole days) was finished in half an hour! So that means, that the next two days I will just spend sitting on my thumbs in the quiet little town of Hot Springs! Now that the festival is over it seems there is absolutely nothing to do here! Luckily I have three books with me, so I will probably just rest and read and gather forces for the homeward journey...

Andrew and Sasha
Me (after I cut my pony tail!) and Andrew. Photo by A.S.

Thursday 14 June 2007

Hot Weather in Hot Springs

Hot Springs banner
The Festival Banner. Photo by A.S.

I have spent already two weeks in Hot Springs, Arkansas. They have a nice little music festival here, and I am assisting the music director (Richard Rosenberg) with two other young conductors, Case Scaglione and Dana Sadava. There is a lot going on - orchestral and chamber music concerts take place every day, and the students have all the time rehearsals or master classes. Just the need for assistant conductors seems to be overestimated! The job would be perfect for one assistant, but for three there is too little to do, especially since the town itself does not offer much entertainment...

Conducting the Hot Springs Music Festival orchestra

Yesterday we had a nice orchestra concert which I opened with Rossini's overture to "La Cenerentola". After that we accompanied 8 (!) students taking turns playing Vivaldi's Four Seasons, after which maestro Rosenberg conducted the original version of Grofe's Grand Canyon Suite. The locals really seem to appreciate their festival, the venue (Fieldhouse) was packed almost full!

Andrew Soli with Laura and Richard Rosenberg. Photo by A.S.

Tuesday 15 May 2007


St Petersburg Camerata

Today was the second day of rehearsals with the State Hermitage orchestra. The soloist arrives tomorrow and then let's see what happens with the modern concert piece, Jukka Tiensuu's clarinet concerto "Puro". It has been quite a challenge to rehearse it without the soloist! The other pieces in the program are the "Olympie" overture by Joseph Martin Kraus and Sibelius' 3rd symphony.

St Petersburg Camerata and Kriikku
Me and soloist Kari Kriikku after performing Jukka Tiensuu's clarinet concerto "Puro"

I did not remember how tired St. Petersburg can make you. After both rehearsals I simply had to nap for a couple of hours! Maybe the warm and humid weather has something to do with it as well... But I remember the same feeling from my student days here - always feeling somehow tired and out of tune.

P.S. I added to this post the photos from the concert on May 18th - I only received them a couple of weeks after the concert.

Saturday 12 May 2007

In St. Petersburg

I arrived yesterday in St. Petersburg by train, and last night I already took a conducting lesson from my old conducting teacher Leonid Korchmar at the St. Petersburg Conservatory. I have to prepare Rachmaninov's 2nd symphony for the Evgeny Svetlanov Conducting Competition in Luxembourg, and I really have had no time to study the score, so I really need "professional help" to make the most of my time. I had a great lesson on the first movement, and this morning I had another one on the second movement. Tonight I will try a little bit of the third as well, if there is time after the official conservatory students have had their lessons.

St Petersburg poster

On the way back to my place (thanks, Seryozha for accommodating me for this week!!!) I saw a huge poster of my concert at the Nordic Music festival in the Metro. There was a big picture of my soloist, Kari Kriikku, and his name on "dog-size" letters and after that it said "the most famous clarinetist of Finland". My name was there also - in small print after the program on the right side of the poster...

SP Filarmonia poster

The following day I met briefly with one of the festival organizers. She assured me that the poster at the Philharmonic Hall has my name on the top and the soloist below because I am actually better known in St. Petersburg than Kriikku! She had even met some people who remembered my first concert in SP four years ago.

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