In Kotka-Hamina region, 2016 is a year of music culture. The region has long been a place where you can enjoy classical music without unnecessary snobbery and relax to the smooth tunes of jazz. Today, the region provides musical experiences ranging from evocative soul to metal festivals where you can take your children.
A diversity of music
The musical offering in Southeast Finland is not only plentiful but also diverse. In addition to the concerts of Kymi Sinfonietta, a unique orchestra for two cities, the region hosts numerous music events, the most traditional of which are the annual Kotka Maritime Festival (28–31 July 2016) with its concerts and maritime song contests as well as the international Hamina Tattoo military music festival (1–6 August 2016). The tickets for the Tattoo have just been put up for sale at Lippupalvelu – get them while you still can!
Among the more recent events are Southeast Chamber Music Festival (13–16 July 2016), the metal-themed Dark River Festival (12–13 August 2016) and the instantly popular, laid-back Fish & Soul festival (9 July 2016). And you should never forget the musicals staged by the Kotka City Theatre.
Roots in the ports and factories
Although there are records of a lively music scene in Southeast Finland in the early 19th century, the music culture in the region is firmly rooted in the industrialisation that took place in the 1880s and 1890s. At the time, plenty of factory workers moved to the area and formed their own theatre troupes and orchestras in the same way as sports teams and schools sprung up around the factories.
The working-class choirs performed popular and classical music equally – there was no discrimination between styles. Perhaps this is the reason why culture in Southeast Finland remains a privilege and source of joy for the entire populace, not merely a pastime for the 'elite'. Even the performers have praised the warm and welcoming audiences in the region.
Jazz has also been a staple of the culture around the ports and factories. Specialities in the southeast region include the East Coast Jazz Club that brings together jazz enthusiasts every Monday in Kotka and the swinging Jazz-Kamu event in Hamina on the last Thursday of every month. Nowhere in Finland will you find a jazz offering that is quite as regular.
People with music in their blood
The region has spawned plenty of nationally and internationally famous artists and virtuosos. Uuno Klami, Junnu Vainio and Reijo Taipale are known by all Finns. This list also includes many other artists ranging from numerous awarded tango singers to professional opera singers, such as Veijo Varpio.
The musical heritage in the blood of all people from Kotka-Hamina region is a guarantee that musical culture will remain vibrant in the region. Kotka-Hamina region provides a wealth of musical experiences for everyone only an hour's trip from the Helsinki Metropolitan Area!
Text: Anita Heikkinen