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On his birthday, Helsinki square resounds with songs by Sibelius

Continuing a tradition from last year's 150th anniversary gala, an impromptu choir sang works by Sibelius in central Helsinki.

Ihmisiä laulamassa Finlandia-hymniä senaatintorilla.
In 2015 the event drew big crowds under a bright blue sky. Image: Vesa Moilanen / Lehtikuva

At noon on Thursday, Helsinki's Senate Square resounded with works by national composer Jean Sibelius, honouring his 151st birthday. A choir of several hundred people sang choral works by Sibelius on the steps of the Lutheran Cathedral – with anyone welcome to join in the pop up event.

Yle streamed the event live, and an excerpt can be viewed on its website.

The event, organised by the city's Lutheran parishes, featured three works by the master: En etsi valtaa loistoa (Giv mig ej glans, ej guld, ej prakt), Soi kunniaksi Luojan (Hymn in Praise of the Lord) and Finlandia. The choir is conducted by Seppo Murto.

Sibelius was born in Hämeenlinna on December 8, 1865. In grey, foggy weather, some 200 people signed up to take part via Facebook, with up to 1,000 expressing interest. An estimated 500-600 people showed up for the event.

Since 2011, December 8 has been an official flag day in Finland, designated as Finnish Music Day.

3.15 Updated with video link and attendance

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