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Tampere Vocal Music Festival – a Celebration of the Human Voice

Bringing together choirs and vocal ensembles, the Tampere Vocal Music Festival serves up a five-day treat for friends of singing from 14 to 18 June 2023. Held online two years ago, the biennial festival is back with live events, with more than a thousand singers coming to town.

The concert programmes of this year’s Tampere Vocal Music Festival range from the Medieval love poetry of Amór Ceu and the folklore-inspired Ilona Korhonen Ensemble to the Somnium Ensemble from Helsinki joining forces with the Vancouver Chamber Choir from Canada.

Elisa Huovinen conducts the Somnium Ensemble in a concert whose theme is a longing for something greater, a safe place where to experience being one with the universe. Their programme includes the world premiere of Northern April by Alex Freeman, commissioned by the Tampere Vocal Music Festival, and concludes with the Vancouver Chamber Choir joining them for the majestic Meren virsi [Hymn of the sea] by Toivo Kuula, celebrating the 140th anniversary of his birth.

The Vancouver Chamber Choir is in Tampere courtesy of Kari Turunen, Artistic Director both of that choir and of the Tampere Vocal Music Festival this year. Their concert programme explores the hopes, dreams, fears and feelings that are universal for people everywhere. Combining music from opposite sides of the Northern Hemisphere – from Canada, Estonia and Finland – the programme includes two new works, Snowdrops by Matthew Whittall and Les Rêveries by Mikko Nisula.

The cornerstones of the Festival are, as always, the Chorus Review and the Contest for Vocal Ensembles. Nearly 50 choirs and seven vocal ensembles will perform in Tampere, Finnish groups being joined by ones from Czechia, France, Denmark, Sweden and Estonia. Both the Chorus Review and the Contest for Vocal Ensembles finish with a concluding concert, with prizes awarded to groups selected by the international juries in both cases.

The evening programme of the Festival features AORA, winners of the online Contest for Vocal Ensembles two years ago, the Musta Lammas [‘Black sheep’] chorus that specialises in rhythm music, and the all-new lineup of The Real Group, the famous Swedish a cappella ensemble.

The Manse Pride week coincides with the Tampere Vocal Music Festival and is referred to in the Festival’s repertoire as well. Queer-themed songs feature at the opening concert of the Festival, and on Friday 16 June there is a discussion in the foyer of Tampere Hall about gender plurality in choirs.

The principal Festival venue is Tampere Hall, with various concerts also given at the Cathedral, at the Finlayson Church, at G Livelab and at the Old Customs House. Complementing the programme of performances, there are various courses for choir conductors and singers and a series of free events around the city (Feel the Festival). The Chorus Review and Contest for Vocal Ensembles also have free admission except for their concluding concerts.

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