The Hanko Music Festival kicks off Friday next week with the theme Free Voice

The seventh Hanko Music Festival opens on Friday 14 July. The theme this year, which is also the 100th anniversary of Finland’s independence, is Free Voice. The theme resonates with freedom of expression, diversity and the international community, not forgetting democracy. The classical music concerts at the festival will bring to the audiences the Finnish debuts of internationally acclaimed female musicians, and the jazz concerts feature some of the very best of Finnish and Estonian artists. The signature illustrations for the festival, the Parisian blue series of works entitled Paradise Dance, were created by the Hanko-based artist Carl-Gustaf Lilius. The festival includes an art exhibition displaying a collection of female figures from the series. The concert series were curated by Artistic Director Noa Nakai.

The Hanko Music Festival begins on 14 July with a dance-filled opening carnival. The carnival crowd will take to the streets of Hanko, dancing to classical and jazz tunes, and everyone is welcome to join in. The opening concert, The Voice of the Silenced, introduces the Parisian Trio Zadig, a winner of several international chamber music competitions, in their first appearance in Finland. In the concert held at the Hanko Church, the audience will be hearing the second piano trio by Shostakovich, completed in 1944, and the piano trio by Ravel, which the composer wrote in his native Basque Country in 1914 at the outbreak of the First World War. The works incorporate dance tunes with elements of klezmer melodies and the Basque dance zortziko.

The jazz concert on Saturday 15 July at Hanko City Hall is headlined by Estonia’s leading jazz ensemble, the Kadri Voorand Quartet. The powerfully expressive jazz singer and composer Kadri Voorand is the recipient of this year’s Estonian Music Award as the Best Female Artist of the Year and for the Best Jazz Album of the Year. The festival continues on Sunday 16 July in jazzy vibes with Finland’s foremost vibraphonist, Severi Pyysalo, who will be leading jazz improvisation workshops and giving a solo performance Ode to Gershwin.

On Monday 17 July, the British cellist enjoying a distinguished stellar international career, Natalie Clein, will take to the stage at the Hanko Church with a solo recital Signs, Games and Messages. The recital is the first appearance in Finland for Clein, who has made several critically acclaimed discs for EMI and Hyperion, and is also professor at the Royal College of Music in London.

The star performances continue on Tuesday 18 July with the lieder recital The Free Voice by the Mexican-Georgian soprano Maria Katzarava and the Barcelonian pianist Francisco Poyato. Katzarava is the winner of the 2008 Placido Domingo Operalia competition, after which she has toured the leading operatic stages of the world with great success. The Hanko Music Festival has the great honour of introducing her to the Finnish audience for the first time.

The festival culminates on Wednesday 19 July with the duo concert of the young Viennese virtuosos, violinist Emmanuel Tjeknavorian and pianist Maximilian Kromer. Tjeknavorian has built the programme around The Three Great B’s, including some of the best loved works by Bach, Beethoven and Brahms, because according to Tjeknavorian, very few other composers have come so close to such strong independent ways of thinking and expression. “I started to play their music rather early, but it will be surely a lifelong journey full of exploration to understand in part the meaning of their artistic message,” says Tjeknavorian, the audience favourite of the 2015 International Jean Sibelius Violin Competition.

Tickets available online at Ticketmaster.