The National Newspaper for Finnish-Americans Since 1932 - Amerikan Uutiset

Friday 04-September-2015

Kleinhans Music Hall, home of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, was designed by Eero Saarinen with his father, Eliel Saarinen in the International Style.

As the Buffalo Philharmonic began planning its 2015-16 season, we knew the celebration of the 75th anniversary of our home, Kleinhans Music Hall, would be an important focal point. Designed by the Finnish architects Eliel and Eero Saarinen, Kleinhans is renowned for its acoustics and is widely regarded as one of Buffalo's architectural gems.  Since the season also coincides with the 150th anniversary of the birth of Jean Sibelius, Finland’s most revered composer, we set about creating a program to celebrate the art, design and music of Finland.

 Sometimes we plan concerts years in advance. In this case we started in 2012 by meeting with Magdelena Herrgard at the Consulate General of Finland in New York. We knew it was essential to gain a broader perspective on Sibelius, and she gave us encouragement and many good suggestions.

 Ultimately, we decided to go see Finland ourselves to absorb the culture and walk in Sibelius’ steps. In September 2013, a small group including Music Director JoAnn Falletta and Board member Cindy Abbott Letro landed in Helsinki for three days of meetings. The overnight flight was exhausting, but upon arrival we made a bee-line to the Ateneum Art Museum to see the collection of fantastic Askeli Gallen-Kallela paintings.

Leroy Jones (with trumpet) and his band in Preservation Hall. Toivola is at the far left.

For a total of 18 years, Finnish born trombonist Katja Toivola has been involved with the jazz music in New Orleans. In a recent visit to the Crescent City, my wife Grace and I were happy to meet Toivola at her regular Friday night performance of The Preservation Hall Jazz Masters Series featuring Leroy Jones.

Apparently not known in the Finnish-American community, Toivola is well known in Finland. So much so, that she has a loyal following of fans and YLE-TV and the Finnish press have written extensively about her accomplishments. Here in the United States, she has appeared on the HBO production Treme - a drama series that takes its name from the Tremé neighborhood of New Orleans and focuses on its residents and how they coped and adjusted to life after the levee failures and floods brought on by Hurricane Katrina devastated the region. The show documented the life of musicians such as Toivola and her husband and life partner Leroy Jones with whom she has been together since 1997. Toivola and Jones are homeowners in the Tremé neighborhood since 2003.

President Sauli Niinistö sends his greetings to all expatriate Finns on Finland´s 95th Independence Day.

As we celebrate Finland’s 95th Independence Day, we take great pride in the stability and wellbeing of our native land.

Our prosperity depends on developments in our neighbouring areas, but also further afield. As a member of the international community, Finland contributes to global security and wellbeing. In recent years, our cooperation with the other Nordic countries has become closer than ever.

In a world of constant change, our job is to ensure that Finland maintains its stability and wellbeing in the future as well. This means that we must be able to renew ourselves in order to adjust to an ever-changing world, while holding on to our strengths and traditional values.

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