Year after year, the Iitti Music Festival features top national and international artists and rising stars. The Artistic Director is Laura Mikkola, a pianist of international acclaim. Thanks to her, the festival programme always consists of both classical and contemporary music, often world or Finnish premieres, and unique crossover events. In idyllic village settings, just before Midsummer.
St. Michel Strings, based in the city of Mikkeli in eastern Finland, is a professional string ensemble of 12 full time musicians. St. Michel Strings dates back to 1903, when a small town of only a few thousand residents had a local music association that founded an orchestra. The ensemble had far higher aspirations than its amateur status. It eventually became a full time professional ensemble, and in 1990 became one of the cultural organizations publicly funded by the city of Mikkeli. From autumn 2012 to summer 2016, the orchestra’s Music Director was Sasha Mäkilä. Conductors Erkki Lasonpalo and Daniel Raiskin acted as the orchestra’s artistic partners during 2017–2019. Erkki Lasonpalo has been appointed chief conductor of the orchestra since 2020.
St. Michel Strings has won acclaim for its innovative programming of works for strings and is also known for its eagerness to collaborate with young composers from Finland and abroad. In order to diversify its concert offerings St. Michel Strings engages in numerous partnerships regularly performing joint concerts with other ensembles. The chamber configuration of the ensemble enables easy mobility. St. Michel Strings is capable of providing a full and authentic concert experience even without a conductor.
Among its recent accomplishments, St. Michel Strings participated in the prestigious Great Mountains Music Festival in South Korea in summer 2013, and its recording Adagio, conducted by Grammy Award-winning conductor and composer José Serebrier, got Latin Grammy Award nomination. Recently St. Michel Strings has collaborated with soloists such as violinist Zia Hyunsu Shin, cellist Jian Wang and pianist Olli Mustonen. Celebration of the 150th anniversary of Jean Sibelius included St. Michel String’s tour in South Korea and China in March 2015 with Sibelius’ music.