The idea for the Iittala Music Festival was inventede during the music courses of Riitta Muikku-Piirainen and Tuomas Nikkanen, which they organized at the Iittala United School in 2014. The idea was announced by the principal of the United School, Anne Laatikainen.
“A year later, during a coffee break on the terrace of Lasimäki restaurant, Riitta brought up the idea and we decided to grab it,” recalls Tuomas Nikkanen, the artistic director of the Iittala Music Festival.
Riitta Muikku-Piirainen and Tuomas Nikkanen founded the Iittala Music Summer Association. The first music festival was held in 2017 in Iittala. The audience got to experience the atmosphere of old Vyborg, enjoy Oskar Merikanto’s most beautiful vocal and piano compositions, hear a cross-section of Finnish violin sonata literature and get to know the new modernist winds in the area in a concert dedicated to Hämeenlinna composers.
“We got great performers to celebrate the 100 years of Finland. In the opening concert at Kalvola Church the stars were opera singer Jaakko Ryhänen and pianist Seppo Hovi. The atmosphere was great and the concert was a succes. Finnish national broadcasting company Yle made a local news story about the party. We got a great start to our new festival. ”
The secret to the success of the Iittala Music Festival has been high-quality and up-to-date repertoire. The music festival has brought out both young rising musicians as well as local stars. The Iittala Music Festival has had different theme every year.
“In 2018, in honor of the 100th anniversary of Toivo Kuula’s death, we commissioned a Kuula chamber opera from Sampsa Ertamo from Hämeenlinna, which we performed in Iittala Hall, and the following spring the opera was also heard on the stage of Verkatehdas.”
Last year theme was children, as the Children’s Music Association named Hämeenlinna the Capital of Children’s Music 2020. At that time, Festival organization started livestreaming of the concerts and made the Iittala Music Festival its own YuoTube channel.
“Last year was very challenging, but we managed to build a slightly smaller but fine and full-fledged festival. One of the concerts was the 100th anniversary concert of Heikki Suolahti, composer who died at the young age of 16. The concert was mainly performed by young musicians under the age of 20. ”
Iittala Music Festival has been built by a small but motivated group. In addition to Riita, Tuomas and Anne, Hillevi Kaarlenkaski and a few gold-worthy locals have also been present: Pihla Rostedt and her husband Timo, as well as the family Syväntö. They helped both by distributing commercials and posters as well as accommodating part of the opera troupe year 2018.
“It is rewarding and inspiring to be working for this little town of Iittala to become the pearl of Häme with the other Iittala Village operators. Cooperation with operators in the region, such as Fiskars, Kultasuklaa, Naivistit Iittalassa -foundation, the Mannerheim League for Child Welfare and the Merchants’ Association, has been important to us. Without it Iittala Music festival would have been difficult to happen, ”says Tuomas Nikkanen.
The Iittala Music Festival enriches the cultural life of the Iittala area with its own work. Also the co-operation with the local school gives children and young people in the area the opportunity to come into contact with classical music at regular intervals.