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Hugely popular film Maja of Stormy Rock screened in concert at the Turku Music Festival in August

The Turku Music Festival is held from 8 to 29 August this year. Today, an exceptional feature was published for the August programme – a film concert featuring the film Maja of Stormy Rock, held at Turku Concert Hall on 31 Aug 2024 at 15.00 and 19.00.

Myrskyluodon Maija [Maja of Stormy Rock], a film directed by Tiina Lymi, premiered this January and racked up a record-breaking 44,000 viewers in its opening weekend. In its first seven weeks, the film had an audience of 366,000, outpacing vastly popular rivals such as Mamma Mia, Top Gun Maverick or Bohemian Rhapsody. Given its success, the film concert featuring this film is now the hottest ticket in town. The three-hour feature is to be presented accompanied by the Vantaa Pops Orchestra at the Turku Music Festival.

“I myself attended a film concert featuring Maja of Stormy Rock, produced by the Vantaa Pops Orchestra under Dalia Stasevska. It was an emotionally compelling experience. Lauri Porra’s excellent score benefits immensely, and the impact of the film is even stronger this way,” says Liisa Ketomäki, Managing Director of the Turku Music Festival Foundation.

“The film was shot in Turku and in the Åland archipelago, so we felt we absolutely had to bring this production to Turku. This city provides great support for Finnish cinema, and Maja of Stormy Rock is a fine example.”

This film version of the tale of Maja of Stormy Rock is a remake of a beloved classic. As such, it is respectful of the past but fresh and modern in its hunger for life and its passion. A timeless love story, the rugged seascape of the barren archipelago and hope in the midst of tragedy form a potent combination that audiences can relate to from one generation to the next.

A rare treat

The forceful score for the film was written by Lauri Porra. The iconic theme tune of the classic TV series by Lasse Mårtenson is, happily, also included – how could we imagine Maja of Stormy Rock without it?

“When I saw the first cut of the film, I realised that we were creating something truly wonderful. For a film composer, this was a dream gig,” says Porra.

“The music stems largely from Maja’s personality and thoughts, and I discussed this a lot with the director. I immersed myself in island life in the mid-19th century and in what it is like to live off the land. I also drew on my own experiences of the sea.”

The monumental and overwhelming nature of the score is a perfect fit for the Turku Music Festival, known for its bold departures. Porra describes the film concert as a wonderful but also rare experience: most film concerts held in Finland feature foreign films.

“Pairing a Finnish film with a 70+ member symphony orchestra is a huge, unique and exciting thing. It is a great occasion for taking a moment to sit quietly and focus, without stress and without phones.”

The film Maja of Stormy Rock is based on the Myrskyluoto [Stormy Rock] series of novels written by Anni Blomqvist (1909–1990), herself a resident of the Åland archipelago. She wrote what she know about: she lost her husband and two sons to the sea. The story is set in the mid-19th century, mainly in the outer archipelago far off the coast of Finland. In the film version, Maja is married off at the age of 17 to Janne from a neighbouring family, against her will. The newlyweds begin their life together in the middle of the sea – on a barren rocky islet where everything has to be built from scratch. They gradually fall in love, and the strong-headed farm girl grows into a strong and resourceful woman of the islands. The film was produced by Solar Films and stars brilliant Swedish actors Amanda Jansson and Linus Troedsson.

Film concerts, or ciné concerts, are a format that has become well established worldwide. The idea is that a film is screened and accompanied by a live orchestra. The Vantaa Pops Orchestra has considerable mileage in this genre: it has played at screenings of Harry Potter films, Star Wars, The Snowman and The Forest Tale.