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25th Anniversary of the Naantali Music Festival

To the 25-year-old Naantali Music Festival

(June 5-17, 2004)
By Ralf Gothón

Musical discourse is conducted in sounds, their meanings, the transmission of the substance of a composition from the performer to the listener. Music even centuries old is brought to us in the present day, continuing to make its living, timeless impact. Regardless of our different and individual worlds of experience, the reception of the musical message establishes a link between the performer and the listener. This link cannot be seen or heard, tasted or smelt. Not even the physical sensation can explain the holistic experience that silences even a large band of people.

In a relay race, the baton is passed from one runner to the next. The baton is, to my knowledge, empty. The performers of chamber music pass on, note by note and one to another, their experience of life, their feelings and art. The holistic human resonance taking place in the here and now is a stage for endless possibilities. At our most successful we express profound emotions and messages about human existence and the experience of life's mystery.

Major chamber works in international performances can really be heard in Finland at only a few music festivals; chamber music festivals are thus great moulders of public musical taste, creating contacts with and between musicians and motivating self-development. The Naantali Music Festival has, ever since it was founded, been one of the finest of the great Finnish festivals.

A first-class event now running for 25 years already, the festival has brought countless international virtuosos, orchestras and, of course, Finnish artists to Naantali. We have all become members of one large family, slightly different every year, and have, irrespective of nationality and background, without exception felt welcome and at home with one another and our excellent audience. Also epitomising the fine Naantali spirit have been the communal sauna evenings for the artists (and the charming mosquitoes) at Kailo, the town's many little art galleries and the powerful smell of the sea.

Once again this summer we have the pleasure of playing great chamber repertoire, of performing in brand-new ensembles. We have, of course, not had much time to practise together, and this, too, has spurred us to the limits of our abilities. Herein lies, in fact, one of the great and foremost challenges of performing music. In setting aside our everyday routine, in seeking out the very essence of the music, we arrive at a world beautiful beyond words in which we exist together. As one sage put it: we stop being separate.

This article was published in the programme book for the Naantali Music Festival in 2004.