Governor Erkki Liikanen
Bank of Finland
On the occasion of the Supervisory Board meeting in Helsinki
Concert at the Temppeliaukio Church
11 th May 2017

Ladies and Gentleman,

Basel is a household name in this audience. The Basel Committee’s recommendations and their implementation have long been a key focus in your work. And even now we are discussing whether there will be a Basel 3.5 or Basel 4.

In midsummer last year, BIS held its regular annual meeting in Basel. We Nordics don’t especially like to spend midsummer in a city. The only right place is to be by a lake with family and friends around a campfire. But once more last year we had to fly to Basel. From Midsummer’s Eve to the following Sunday.

But then came the good news! We learned that a famous modern opera by Karlheinz Stockhausen was to be performed that very Sunday in Basel theatre. This opera, Donnerstag aus Licht, has cult status among many musicians and artists of the younger generation. Its premiere was in 1981 in Milan’s La Scala.

We got the tickets and entered. It was a six-hour performance with great singers, musicians and dancers. The story was the autobiography of the composer. There are three roles: the composer, his strict father and his fragile mother, Eva, who was taken into a mental hospital. It was a moving experience that we will not forget.

This very opera performance was later nominated opera production of the year by the respected opera magazine Opernwelt (‘Opera world’). Eva´s challenging role was sung by Anu Komsi, who will sing for us today.

Anu Komsi has made many performances to great acclaim around the world. She is also famous for her interpretations of contemporary Finnish composers such as Magnus Lindberg and Esa-Pekka Salonen. She presented Lindberg’s ‘Accused’ with Toronto Philharmonic Orchestra in February and in the Independence Day concert in Helsinki in December. She has also recorded the premiere of Esa-Pekka Salonen´s ‘Wing on Wing’ with her sister, Piia Pauliina Komsi. This was composed by Salonen for the inauguration of Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, designed by Frank Gerry. Next week they will sing ‘Wing on Wing’ in three concerts with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in New York City.

Three years ago, in the middle of a beautiful July in the lake area in Eastern Finland we heard that Anu Komsi was giving a concert together with Marzi Nyman in the huge wooden church in Puumala. We were surprised, because we knew Marzi Nyman as a leading jazz musician of his generation. He was even nominated Jazz Musician of the Year by Pori Jazz festival in 2003. 

By the way, Pori is famous not only for jazz but also for the topical discussions organized during its festivals. Just two examples: Jacques Delors spoke there in 1994 just before Finland joined the EU. Jean-Claude Trichet, for his part, participated in a panel in summer 2007. This turned out to be the last weekend before the turbulence took over the financial markets.

We took first a boat and then a car and hurried to the church.

We knew Anu Komsi can sing anything. But I was very curious to know how Marzi Nyman plays organ. And he did not disappoint. 

Marzy Nyman and Anu Komsi play for us here tonight.

When we sat in the huge wooden church, I saw Sakari Oramo, chief conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra and also Principal Conductor of the Stockholm Royal Philharmonic Orchestra sitting there.

I asked: “Are you also playing?” “No, I am the driver,” was his reply. 

This was true. He drove back with his wife Anu Komsi all through the white night from Eastern Finland to Kokkola, their home town on the west coast. It was a long drive, at least six hours. In Kokkola, Anu Komsi and Sakari Oramo will be organizing an Opera Festival again this summer.

Sakari Oramo began his career as a violinist and even recorded the great violin concerto of Jean Sibelius in his youth. He became concert master of the Radio Symphony Orchestra and also began to study conducting. The rest is history.

He moved on and began to conduct in Finland and other Nordic countries. Then he was invited as a visitor to conduct the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Soon after, he was appointed to follow Simon Rattle as the chief conductor. Sakari Oramo was then 30 years of age. He stayed there for 9 years as chief conductor.

Last August, Sakari Oramo conducted the last night of the famous Proms at Royal Albert Hall in London. Those who heard the event will not forget either the music or the speech.

He has done tens of recordings. Last year he received an award for best recording for his thrilling 1st and 3rd Symphonies by Nielsen with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra. He has been visiting conductor in leading philharmonic orchestras. In April he conducted the Wiener Philharmoniker in Vienna.

Friends of music got great news just six weeks ago. Sakari Oramo was invited to become Professor of Orchestral Conducting at the Sibelius Academy of the University of the Arts in Helsinki, from January 2020 for five years. This means we can not only continue to enjoy his music, but we, our children and grand-children will also enjoy the music of his students for decades to come.

But tonight, Sakari Oramo is not driving, he is not conducting and he is not teaching. He will play violin.

Once more, I am happy to present to you, Anu Komsi, Marzi Nyman and Sakari Oramo!

Dear Guests: Fasten your seat belts.