Following the acclaimed and widely popular Rock-Suomi and Iskelmä-Suomi series, Yle will be launching Classical Finland. 10-part documentary series gives a voice to musicians, composers, other professionals in the music industry and passionate music lovers. World stars and grass-roots influencers alike have their say. Classical Finland will be broadcast on television and radio on Mondays starting from 7 March 2016, and will be available online round the clock.
The series also introduces us to top names in the industry, musicians' first steps, the loneliness of the rehearsal booth, the joy of playing music together and the power of shared moments, and conveys stories about teachers, students and the joys and sorrows of creative work.
Enriched by an abundance of archive material and unique finds made at private people's homes, the series takes the viewer on a journey through a colourful, polyphonic world underpinned by love for and curiosity about music. The series is written and edited by Pekka Laine, Kare Eskola and Anu Holttinen. The TV series is directed by Teemu Holttinen.
The Classical Finland radio series offers radio adaptations of the television series' imagery and other supplementary material. The subjects of the TV series are retold through different stories and at a different tempo. The radio series' ten parts divide Finland's national music culture in a different way from what we are used to in art music. The shows are hosted by Kare Eskola and the sound imagery is created by sound designer Pentti Männikkö.
Online, the journey of discovery continues through articles dealing with the series' themes, Pekka Laine's vlogs and Kare Eskola's blogs.
Classical Finland on television
Yle Teema, Mondays 7 March – 9 May 2016 at 9:00 pm, re-runs on Tuesdays at 6:00 pm, Sundays at 8:00 pm and on Yle Areena.
Classical Finland on radio
Yle Radio 1, Mondays 7 March – 9 May 2016 at 11:00 am, re-runs on Saturdays at 2:00 pm and on Yle Areena.
Classical Finland online
Makers of the series
Classical Finland has been an exploration of my own relationship with music and my own prejudices.
Pekka Laine is an experienced music journalist who is deeply rooted in popular music. “I was on my home turf in the Rock-Suomi and Iskelmä-Suomi series I hosted. For me, Classical Finland is a journey into a new and partly unexplored world. My relationship with classical music is one of a curious layman and beginner. I am by turn amazed, delighted and bewildered, raising my eyebrows and asking all kinds of questions – sometimes stupid ones. Classical Finland has been a learning journey into a rich and multi-faceted music culture that offers a lot of excitement sprinkled with a healthy dose of irritation. At the same time, it's been an exploration of my own relationship with music and my own prejudices. I never used to dream of playing in a symphony orchestra. Now I do.”
Radio host Kare Eskola's bread and butter is classical music, and his weekly show, Välilevyjä, has been running on Yle Radio 1 since 2007. “Since I'm a classical music person through and through, Classical Finland is not really a journey into a new world for me like it is for Pekka Laine. Which is a shame. But on the other hand, it's been an exploration into new points of view. Working with Pekka on the same team has taught me to look at classical music with fresh eyes and highlighted the wonderfulness and joy of music. Even though we're critical in this series, we're never cynical!”
Anu Holttinen is a music director and journalist with a Ph.D. in music science. Her favourite instrument is the symphony orchestra.
Teemu Holttinen is a director who believes “the main thing is that you ask questions”.
What does a classical music success story look like when it is dissected into small pieces?
Episode 1/10: Little Giant
Mon 7 March 2016
What does reaching for the top mean in the world of classical music, where there are no short cuts or easy answers? Classical music also lives off the star cult. Who needs stars and what for? The episode features Esa-Pekka Salonen, Kaija Saariaho, Pekka Kuusisto and Soile Isokoski.
Episode 2/10: Tribe
Mon 14 March 2016
What kind of a tribe do classical musicians and their audience form? How do you get accepted into the tribe? Not all musicians want to become touring soloists. Some of them prefer to work as part of a larger community such as a symphony orchestra. The episode features Kari Kriikku, Jaakko Kuusisto, Susanna Mälkki and Hannu Lintu.
Episode 3/10: The Big S
Mon 21 March 2016
Jean Sibelius has been called upon to fill many roles in the Finnish music scene. What kind of a character and phenomenon was the “Big S” of our music scene to his contemporaries, both musicians working in his aura and in his shadow as well as ordinary citizens? What kind of music was eclipsed by the heroic epic of Sibelius? The episode features Minna Lindgren, Osmo Vänskä, Jaakko Ilves and Lauri Porra.
Episode 4/10: Modern Times
Mon 28 March 2016
The classical prog generation. In the 1970s and '80s, a new generation of young musicians and composers emerges, shaking up perceptions of what is music and who can play it. The Korvat Auki! (Open Your Ears!) association is born, musicians rebel and the “fur cap opera” concept is developed. What kind of a legacy did this generation leave behind? The episode features Jouni Kaipainen, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Eero Hämeenniemi and Lotta Wennäkoski.
Episode 5/10: Song Land
Mon 4 April 2016
Finland is a land of songs, and Finns a nation of singers. Finland has an amazingly large number of choirs, and even in the smallest, most remote towns, people know opera singer Jorma Hynninen. The opera boom in the 1970s struck a chord with Finns. Today's opera doesn't confine itself to the familiar setting of the stage and the best Finnish choirs don't follow old formulas, either. The episode features Jorma Hynninen, Aulis Sallinen, Soile Isokoski and Lilli Paasikivi.
Episode 6/10: Learning Curve
Mon 11 April 2016
Many feel that Finnish music education is the real success story of Finnish music culture. This episode tells us about teachers, students, little violinists, future professionals and the traces left by early music education that unite many Finns. The episode features Géza Szilvay, Jorma Panula, Jari Sinkkonen and Jaakko Kuusisto.
Episode 7/10: Two Worlds
Mon 18 April 2016
The history and present of Finnish music are full of artists for whom crossing boundaries is a prerequisite for their musical careers. How do musicians feel about barriers and what kind of a trace does moving between different music genres leave on their musical work? The episode features Perttu Kivilaakso, Pekka Kuusisto, Jukka Linkola and Iiro Rantala.
Episode 8/10: Gatekeepers
Mon 25 April 2016
On whose shoulders does decision-making in the music business rest? Who hold the power and the responsibility? The theme of the episode is the passion aroused by talking, writing and conversing about music. We no longer have Erik Tawaststjerna, the whole nation's essayist, or Seppo Heikinheimo, the knight-errant of music criticism. What will music talk and critique be like in the future - and who will be allowed to voice it? The episode features Vesa Sirén, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Seppo Kimanen and Aulis Sallinen.
Episode 9/10: Pioneers
Mon 2 May 2016
The anatomy of a success story. Audiences are intrigued by stars and brilliant characters. The music scene has changed, ushering in agents, the media, brands and business. What does a classical music success story look like when it is dissected into small pieces? The episode features Osmo Vänskä, Jaakko Kuusisto, Marko Ylönen and Samuli Tiikkaja.
Episode 10/10: Suomi-Finland
Mon 9 May 2016
Is Finnish classical music inherently Finnish? Does music have a special tune that is indigenous to Finland? Has the branding, exporting and international cooperation of our music scene produced any tangible and sustainable results? The episode features Esa-Pekka Salonen, Kaija Saariaho, Magnus Lindberg and Virpi Hämeen-Anttila.