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Turku Music Festival aims to raise international awareness of the association of Jean Sibelius and of Aino and Alvar Aalto with Turku

Jean Sibelius and Aino and Alvar Aalto are to this day among Finland’s internationally best-known personalities and artists. Both Sibelius and the Aaltos had a close association with Turku back in their day, and the Turku Music Festival accordingly aims to raise international awareness of this link in the marketing of the City of Turku and in its own operations.

The Turku Music Festival is increasing its investment in international marketing and wishes to contribute to the attractiveness of Turku as a destination for cultural tourism. A broad-based development project was launched during the pandemic, as a result of which the Festival is involved in Sustainable Travel Finland projects coordinated by Business Finland and Visit Finland. The Festival is also continuing its cultural tourism development project on special funding from the Ministry of Education and Culture; this project was launched after our 60th anniversary year in 2019, just before the pandemic. The goal in all of this is to raise international recognition of the Turku Music Festival and to make it one of the spearheads of the cultural tourism marketing of the City of Turku.

“The Turku Music Festival is international in its programme profile, and internationalism is a self-evident aspect of our operations. However, we – as indeed Finland as a country – have a long way to go to promote international cultural tourism, i.e. to attract visitors from abroad. The goals of increasing international attractiveness and to develop cultural tourism are also enshrined in the strategy of the City of Turku. Historical cultural investments by the public authorities, such as the new music centre, the Museum of History and the Future and the House of Dance are key efforts in this respect, as are the huge advancements we have seen in hotel and restaurant services in the past few years,” says Liisa Ketomäki, Managing Director of the Turku Music Festival Foundation.

Turku should leverage its extensive cultural heritage

The work towards international marketing and attractiveness must be initiated before the aforementioned grand projects are completed, and Turku should leverage its extensive cultural heritage much better.

“Turku has Finland’s only Sibelius Museum, which we feel should be more prominently featured in the international marketing of Turku. After all, Sibelius is one of the world’s best-known Finns. Tampere is making noise about having the only Moomin Museum in Finland, which is particularly effective in attracting tourists from Asia. This is not a zero-sum game; the Sibelius Museum in Turku does not compete with Ainola or with Sibelius’s birthplace in Hämeenlinna any more than the Moomin Museum competes with Moomin World in Naantali. On the contrary, the stronger the brand is, the more interest it generates,” Liisa Ketomäki explains.

There is already plenty of research on Sibelius’s association with Turku, a summary of which was compiled by composer Lauri Mäntysaari with Sanna Linjama, Collection Curator at the Sibelius Museum, for the Festival website. In addition to posting this report, the Festival will be promoting the Sibelius Museum and will be organising concerts there on a regular basis.

“There is a lot to see in Turku, but I’m certain that the opportunity to walk in Sibelius’s footsteps and to visit the Sibelius Museum will be of interest to some of the tourists interested in music and culture,” says Ketomäki.

Turku Music Festival in cooperation with Paimio Sanatorium

The Turku Music Festival is planning a similar highlighting of Aino and Alvar Aalto on its website and in its marketing. The handsome Paimio Sanatorium, recently reopened to the public, is one of the finest designs produced by the Aaltos and is of considerable interest for tourists. The Festival has been in close cooperation with the Paimio Sanatorium and will be the first to organise a concert on the premises, an architecture-themed recital by internationally merited pianist Paavali Jumppanen on Friday 12 August.

“The City of Turku is a founding member of the Paimio Sanatorium Foundation. All of the furniture designed by Aalto is still manufactured in Finland, at the plant at Littoinen in Turku where production was begun in 1935 when Artek was established. In other words, all Aalto furniture out there in the world was produced in Turku. This is also something we will be proud to report internationally. We hope to be able to organise concerts and other events at the Paimio Sanatorium in the future, after this historical first summer,” says Ketomäki.

Read more: TMJ x ARTS – Sibelius

Further information and interview requests

Liisa Ketomäki

Eveliina Salminen