Director’s Statement: The Tree Booms
Boom 1: Changing China
Circus, dance, design, rock, symphony, cartoons, kites and street food. As part of the 2015 Helsinki Festival, we present Focus: China, one of the most comprehensive looks at Chinese culture seen in Europe over the past years. We are not interested in how different or exotic the Chinese are as such, but rather how similar we humans ultimately are.
The world has changed China. Now China is changing the world at a pace. If you dig deep enough in Finland, you get to China, they say. The 2015 Helsinki Festival provides you with shovels for the exploration.
Boom 2: Changing musical theatre
Theatre changes, music changes, dance changes. Perhaps musical theatre is the art form which, in embracing the world, ultimately best describes our multifaceted modern reality. This has been understood by the modern generation of composers – more than 20 of them are currently working on an opera or musical theatre project. Finland is experiencing a well-hidden musical theatre boom! The 2015 Helsinki Festival programme contains a small part thereof: three premieres of Finnish musical theatre works.
Boom 3: Continuing agent of change
The Huvila Festival Tent, the agent of change in the city’s music scene, celebrates its 20th anniversary! Over the years, this Tokoinranta landmark has fed the fires of passion, introduced new artists of all sorts and launched one star after another into the musical sky of Helsinki. And it will do so this summer as well. The agent of change continues!
In this landscape of change, after six festivals, I bid farewell to the wonderful audience of the Helsinki Festival with this year’s programme and welcome my successor, Topi Lehtipuu.
The world is changing – art makes the transition easier.
Erik Söderblom, b.1958 in Helsinki, studied piano and cello since childhood. After finishing school he studied philosophy and arts at Helsinki University. He lived some time in London, and in the early eighties went to Munich, where he studied opera directing with August Everding at the Hochshule für Musik. From 1982 to 1985 he conducted the Chamber Strings of Helsinki-ensemble. At the same time he continued his studies at the Theatre Academy of Helsinki. He graduated from the directors’ class in 1987.
Between 1988 and 1990 Söderblom was director of Turku City Theatre. In 1990 he – together with a group of young actors, directors, writers and set designers of his generation – founded the Q-teatteri in Helsinki. With this ensemble he made an acknowledged series of directions of both newly written Finnish texts and classical texts such as Fyodor Dostoyevsky´s Notes from Underground, William Shakespeare´s Hamlet and Twelfth Night and Leo Tolstoy´s War and Peace. All these productions have been shown on festivals in Finland and abroad. Today Q-teatteri is recognized as one of the artistically leading ensembles in Finland.
Söderblom was chairman of the board and artistic leader of Q-teatteri between 1996-2002. On his initiative Q-teatteri founded the Baltic Circle, a network for free theatre groups around the Baltic Sea. Q-teatteri also hosts the important international Baltic Circle theatre festival. Söderblom was the first artistic leader of this festival.
Alongside with his work with Q-teatteri, Söderblom has directed in theatres around Finland and abroad. The best known of his international work is the prize-winning staging of Jouko Turkka´s play Connecting People in Von Krahli -theater in Tallinn.
In recent years he has returned to opera and is considered to be a leading Finnish opera director. He has directed performances such as the prize-winning productions of Mozart´s Entführung aus dem Serail and Le Nozze di Figaro at Pori Opera and the huge outdoor performance of Wagner´s Der fliegende Holländer in Turku.
Söderblom has been praised for his directions of contemporary opera. As a trained musician he has the ability to read also intricate new music scores and has directed the world premieres of several Finnish operas such as Tapio Tuomela´s Mothers and Daughters, Lars Karlsson´s Rödhamn and Mikko Heiniö´s The Hour of the Serpent, all at the Finnish National opera and Veli-Matti Puumala´s Anna Liisa during the Helsinki Festival 2008
Among Söderblom´s recent works is the Finnish opera “Eerik XIV” by the composer Mikko Heiniö and writer Juha Siltanen for the Turku2011 – European Capital of Culture.
Erik Söderblom´s role in Finnish theatre as an important pedagogue is worth mentioning. In the years 1998-2002 Söderblom was leading a famous music theatre class at Turku Polytechnic. Between 2001 and 2009 he was a Professor of acting at the Helsinki Theatre Academy.
He is the director of Helsinki Festival since 2009.