Over five days, the Tampere Vocal Music Festival brought 1,400 singers in 70 choirs and vocal ensembles to the city. This reconvening after the pandemic was an emotional experience for the choral community, and audiences were eager to welcome the return of live vocal music performances. Attendance at the Chorus Review, Contest for Vocal Ensembles, other concerts and free events was excellent.
“What is memorable is the warm and welcoming atmosphere of the Festival. Listening to Finnish choirs, I’ve been impressed by their sound, which is open just like Finnish people,” says Jennifer Tham, chair of the jury of the Chorus Review.
The Chorus Review culminated in its Concluding Concert on Sunday, which included the awaring of merit prizes. Grex Musicus emerged as the choir rated the most highly by the jury, receiving a merit prize of EUR 1,500 and three gold stamps – the only choir to receive this ranking. Jennifer Tham described Grex Musicus:
“Their performance amazed us with its beauty and carefully crafted musical details.”
Seven further choirs were awarded merit prizes of EUR 1,000. Conductor prizes were awarded to Riku Miettunen and Kirsi Tunkkari. The award for best repertoire was given to Vino Ensemble. This year’s Chorus Review had 46 choirs from Finland, Estonia, Czechia, Sweden and Norway. The jury evaluated each choir’s performance on a scale of one to three stamps in each of the categories bronze, silver and gold (i.e. ranging from one bronze to three gold), and awarded a total of EUR 10,000 in merit prizes.
In addition to the chair, Jennifer Tham from Singapore, the jury members were Basilio Astulez (Spain), Orla Flanagan (Ireland), Timo Nuoranne (Finland) and Kaija Viitasalo (Finland).
The Concluding Concert of the Chorus Review included the presentation of a lifetime achievement award conferred by the Matti Hyökki Fund of the Finnish Cultural Foundation and by the Tampere Vocal Music Festival, EUR 2,500, to Marjukka Riihimäki for her exceptional and extensive career championing creative and performing musical arts in Finland.
The highlight of the concerts at the Tampere Vocal Music Festival was in the multiple roles taken by the Vancouver Chamber Choir, conducted by Kari Turunen. Their concert at Tampere Cathedral on Saturday was received enthusiastically by professional guests and local audience members alike. On Friday, the Vancouver Chamber Choir guested at the concert of Somnium Ensemble, joining forces with them to perform Meren virsi (Hymn of the sea) by Toivo Kuula. The choir was also the choir in residence at the choir conducting masterclass given by Tõnu Kaljuste.
In the Contest for Vocal Ensembles held on Wednesday and Thursday, the Grand Prix was awarded to Les Itinérants from France. The concert programme of the Festival also included vocal ensembles, most prominently The Real Group at the Old Customs House on Saturday night.
The Tampere Vocal Music Festival engaged in a variety of valuable collaborations, such as the summer seminar of the MunKuoro/MinKör (MyChoir) project designed to promote singing, communality and wellbeing among children and adolescents.
The Festival attracted more than 25,000 visitors. The next edition of the Festival will be held on 11—15 June 2025, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Festival. Kari Turunen will be succeeded as Artistic Director by Merzi Rajala, a pioneer in the development of rhythm music for choirs – composer, arranger and educator.
Yle Radio 1 will broadcast the following concerts recorded at the Tampere Vocal Music Festival:
21 June 2023 at 19.02, Concluding Concert of the Contest for Vocal Ensembles
22 June 2023 at 19.02, Vancouver Chamber Choir, Amor Céu
PRIZE LIST OF THE CHORUS REVIEW
Suomen Nuorisokuoro – Finlands Ungdomskör
Riku Miettunen EUR 500
Kirsi Tunkkari EUR 500
Best Programme: Vino Ensemble EUR 500