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Guide to the Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival

July 10 – 23, 2022, Kuhmo, Finland
« The festival management decided to recruit “within the family”, so violinists Minna Pensola and Antti Tikkanen, who have been performing at Kuhmo since before the start of Mendelssohn’s tenure, each received a “top secret” email asking if they were interested in the role of Artistic Director. »

About the festival

Kuhmo Chamber Music is the biggest and oldest chamber music festival in Finland. Every year the festival has a new theme and the theme of the 2022 festival is the Art of Illusion. The new Artistic Directors are Finnish violinists Minna Pensola and Antti Tikkanen. The first version of the 2022  programme was planned by Vladimir Mendelssohn, the previous Artistic Director of the festival. The Artistic Directors have given titles to each of the festival days: Game of ClonesThe tree of knowledgeLost souls’ alleythe Hourless clock, etc. Each concert is also titled: The fuel for imaginationTwin shadowsAssociations, White nights, Love actually and Paraphrases. The concert programming includes well known chamber music, but also surprises, novelties and exotic experiences. 

Around 120 international artists will come and perform in Kuhmo. Among them are violinists Priya Mitchell, Aylen Pritchin, Pierre Frapier, Hagai Shaham, Daniel Rowland and Elina Vähälä. Pianists will include Nino Gvetadze, Dasol Kim and Natacha Kudritskaya, joined by cellists Maja Bogdanovic and Senja Rummukainen and other renowned musicians from all over the world. Ensembles include The Cremona, Danel and Enesco string quartets and the Storioni Trio. The Abel quartet, a member of the Kuhmo Chamber Music Quartet Academy will Also perform during the festival.

The number of concerts will be approximately 60, with 4 to 5 performances per day. In addition to the main festival programme, there will also be children’s concerts, student concerts, talks and lectures, instrument demonstrations, meetings with artists, art exhibitions and workshops, amounting to 20 daily events.

Where is it?

In the small town of Kuhmo in Eastern Finland, 600 kilometres north from the Finnish capital Helsinki, surrounded by blue lakes and fresh forests.

How to get there?

The best flight connections to Kuhmo are through the Finnish capital Helsinki. Take the first flight to Helsinki and another one from Helsinki to the nearest airport in Kajaani. Flights between Helsinki and Kajaani are operated by DAT. There is a transportation service from the airport to Kuhmo. The nearest railway station is also in Kajaani, offering good connections from and to Helsinki. Bus transport from the railway station to Kuhmo is also available.

Local accommodation

Kuhmo offers a variety of accommodation possibilities, ranging from hotels and hostels to private housing, but it is advisable to book well in advance. The Vuokatti holiday region near Kuhmo has further accommodation for concert lovers. Weekly ticket holders usually book a private house for a week and hire bicycles to get easily from one place to another. All the accommodation possibilities are available on the festival’s website.

Food & Drink

Delicacies from Lapland in Salakamari restaurant, fresh salads and pastries from the local bakers in Amati Café, home cooked meals in Neljä Kaesaa Restaurant, local fish in the restaurant of Hotel Kainuu, special menus in Hotel Kalevala… There are plenty of choices in the small city centre and you can easily find a place. Booking a group menu in advance is advisable.

What can tourists visit nearby?

Kuhmo is a city of culture and nature. The most interesting places to visit in the city are the Kalevala Centre Juminkeko, Nature Centre Petola and the Winter War Museum. The city also offers different kinds of art exhibitions during the festival. Kuhmo is surrounded by beautiful nature and there are many outdoor activities available: taking a trip with a canoe and paddle in the sunset, spending a night deep in the forest, observing the bears, wolves and wolverines. More information: www.wildtaiga.fi/en.

Dress code

The dress code in Kuhmo is informal. Artists get festival’s t-shirts when they arrive at Kuhmo and many of them also have their t-shirts when on stage. Everybody is free to choose their attire, baring in mind that even though July is the best summer month in Finland, the weather can vary. It may be hot, but it may also rain. Visitors are advised to bring a variety of clothes.

What are the venues like?

Most of the concerts are held in three wonderful wooden venues – Kuhmo’s beautiful old church (built in 1816), Kuhmo Arts Centre (built in 1993) and the new Tuupala School (2018). The concert venues are all within walking distance of one another. Music is everywhere, there are concerts from morning to late at night, and people just live for the music. In the evenings, gathered round an open fire in the yard of the festival restaurant, musicians and festival-goers get together and strike up friendships. Concerts are also held in the nearby region.

Why should you visit the festival?

Kuhmo is a true chamber music paradise - don’t miss it!

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