Víkingur Ólafsson and Pina Bausch’s The Rite of Spring are among the stars of Helsinki Festival

Once again, Helsinki Festival provides classical music and dance art experiences starting on 17 August. The festival programme includes, for example, a concert by visionary pianist Víkingur Ólafsson and the dance work The Rite of Spring by Pina Bausch.

The first part of the classical music and performing arts programme for Helsinki Festival, the highlight of the city’s festival summer, has now been released. Helsinki Festival showcases topical works and artists with concerts and performances at Musiikkitalo, Dance House Helsinki and Temppeliaukio Church from mid-August to 3 September.

The star of the classical music programme is the renowned pianist Víkingur Ólafsson. Having released his latest album From Afar in October, the Icelandic artist has received praise for his technical mastery, unique style and rare skill for choosing a programme that especially suits his artistry and deviates from the recital tradition. At the Musiikkitalo concert on 20 August, Ólafsson will play his interpretation of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Goldberg Variations, a monument in piano literature.

The main international works in dance art are The Rite of Spring by the iconic German choreographer Pina Bausch as well as the joint performance of common ground[s] by Senegalese Germaine Acogny and French Malou Airaudo in Erkko Hall at Dance House Helsinki on 24–26 August. The ritualistic choreography to Igor Stravinsky’s masterpiece, created in 1975 by Pina Bausch, one of the most important names in contemporary dance, comes to life with 32 dancers from 14 different African countries. This exceptional performance challenges the conventions of contemporary dance and intertwines with the earlier announced interpretation of The Rite of Spring, performed from memory at Helsinki Festival by the Aurora Orchestra and conducted by Nicholas Collon. The performances begin with the duet common ground[s] by Germaine Acogny, also called the mother of African dance, along with Malou Airaudo, one of the most important dancers and the “right hand” of Pina Bausch, exploring the encounter between two senior dancers and the traces of their shared past.

Helsinki Festival’s classical music programme includes concerts by The Tallis Scholars choir from Great Britain and the Swedish chamber orchestra O/Modernt. Both concerts feature several works from Estonian composer Arvo Pärt. Specialising in renaissance works, The Tallis Scholars is an internationally known vocal ensemble, whose fresh interpretations of both contemporary and past composers can be heard at Temppeliaukio Church on 18 August. 

O/Modernt has risen to prominence with its eclectic and adventurous programme. The programme of concert at Musiikkitalo on 1 September features compositions by Pärt, Josquin Desprez and Iánnis Xenákis as well as by pop musician Sting, arranged by Marzi Nyman.

Helsinki Festival is celebrated from 17 August until 3 September 2023. The festival programme will be published in parts during the spring.

Helsinki Festival’s main partners are Helsingin Sanomat and Elisa, the sponsor is Accenture and service partners include Akun tehdas, Heku, Marski and Renault. The Rite of Spring & common ground[s] joint evening is made possible by the Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation.

Image: Pina Bausch – The Rite of Spring / Maarten Vanden Abeele