One highlight of Finn Grand Fest 2005’s Gala Festival Concert will be a world premiere concerto for string bass and orchestra.  The concert takes place at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 11, at Lakeview Arena.  The festival runs Aug. 10-14 in Marquette.

            The featured work is the creation of Finnish composer Jukka Linkola, who will conduct the orchestra for the premiere performance.  The composition was written for the 2005 festival and was underwritten by Pauline and John Kiltinen of Marquette, who are serving as president and vice president of the Finn Grand Fest 2005 board.

            Gala concert tickets range from $17-$50 and can be purchased online at or are area businesses:  the Marquette chamber office, Scandinavian Gifts, and Touch of Finland.  Tickets also are expected to still be available at the door.

            The bass soloist will be Evan Premo of Amasa.  Premo is well known in the Upper Peninsula as a member of the Premo family string band, White Water.  He is entering his third year at the University of Michigan, where he is studying bass.

            The Finn Grand Fest 2005 Festival Orchestra was organized by pianist Craig Randal Johnson of Minneapolis, the 1999 Finlandia Foundation Performer of the Year.  The group consists of musicians from around the United States and from Finland. Johnson, seasoned conductor, pianist, and bassist, was well positioned to bring together the ensemble for the occasion.  He organized the orchestra for FinnFest USA 2002 held in Minneapolis. 

             In addition to many of those who performed at that festival three years ago, he has also called upon musicians who come to the Upper Peninsula every summer for the Superior String Alliance festival, as well as local players from the Marquette Symphony Orchestra and Northern Michigan University’s music department.

             Some of the top musicians to participate are:  Alex Jokipii, an Escanaba native and principal trumpet in the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra; Kari Sundstrom, second trombone from the Minnesota Orchestra, and a native Finn; Larry Hutchinson, long-time member of the bass section of the Detroit Symphony; Ulla Suokko, a Finnish native and free-lance flutist from New York, who was a 2001 Finlandia Foundation Performer of the Year; and Denise Tryon, a horn player with the Detroit Symphony.

            The gala concert will include a chorus anchored by the Marquette Choral Society.  It will sing Main Paras Vaif (Finglish for “My Best Wife”) by Finnish composer Atso Almila.  This cantata for baritone soloist, chorus, and orchestra had its premiere in Marquette at FinnFest USA in 1996.  For this return performance, the soloist will be James Koenig of Los Angeles.

            The concert will also include works by world-renowed Finnish composer Johan (Jean) Sibelius (1865-1957):  Karelia Suite, the Fifth Symphony, and FinlandiaFinlandia will conclude the concert with the chorus and audience joining in to sing the concluding “hymn” section.

Prepared By
John Kiltinen