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The Sound of Sibelius returns to the east coast
by Mika Makinen for Vocal Area Network
Posted October 15, 2005

YL Male Voice ChoirSpeaking Finnish doesn't get you very far outside Finland. Recognizing that one's native tongue is incomprehensible to practically everyone else has led Finns to find other ways to get their message through. One important medium has been music, and by exporting classical as well as vocal music the Finns have mastered "lingua franca".

Among composers like Sibelius and Rautavaara and conductors like Salonen and Vänskä, one specialty of this export of music has been the male voice choir. The culture that originally emerged in academic circles with a passion for patriotic songs, serenades and drinking songs, has become an instrument for the highest artistic aspirations. The male voice choir is not a very common instrument in the music world today, but in Scandinavia this tradition breathes lively and strong.

YL Male Voice Choir, from Helsinki, is one of the most distinguished male voice choirs in the world. The choir has earned its reputation from extensive foreign tours and acclaimed recordings. The award-winning choir was founded in 1883, but despite its strong historical foundation, YL maintains a solid contemporary outlook. Throughout its existence, YL has been the flagship of a strong Finnish choral tradition and a pioneer in Finnish music. As Finland's premier male voice choir, YL has always been active in commissioning, performing and recording national and foreign contemporary music.

Many of the choir's recordings have been distinguished with national and international prizes and nominations. Latest international recognitions were the 2001 nomination for the coveted Gramophone prize (with Sifonia Lahti and Osmo Vänskä) as well as the 2002 Cannes Classical award in the category of choral works. In Japan, a jury of 30 distinguished music critics declared the concert given by YL, the Sinfonia Lahti and Osmo Vänskä in Tokyo in 2003 as Japan's best classical concert experience of the year.

2005 marks the 140th anniversary of the birth of Finland's greatest composer, Jean Sibelius. The paths of Sibelius and YL have been bound together since the establishment of the choir. YL originally commissioned and premiered most of the male choir works of Sibelius. Today, the choir is especially known for its authoritative performances of these luminous-sounding masterworks.

Returning from extensive tours to Japan and Central Europe, YL will be touring the Eastern United States and Iceland in October 2005. YL comes to New York with a performance at Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center on the 23rd of October. For more info about YL, visit www.yl.fi/soundofsibelius.

Mika Makinen sings with the YL Male Voice Choir.

Content Contact: Mika Makinen.
Revision Date: October 15, 2005.
Technical Contact: Steve Friedman.

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