Tonight I'm going to a reception at the Finnish embassy for a choir called Ylioppilaskunnan Laulajat. Perhaps you are not surprised to learn that they abbreviate it as "YL." It's a group of about 60 men, associated with the Helsinki University; it's the choir that Sibelius wrote for, and they've commissioned a ton of new works. My Sibelius-obsessed church choir director was in the group for a few months several years ago while he was on a Fulbright in Finland, and he's singing with them this week.
I actually went to New York this weekend because I can't make it to the D.C. show on their east coast tour. The concert yesterday was wonderful. They did this one beautiful piece by Veljo Tormis, a contemporary Estonian composer, called "Incantatio maris aestuosi (Charm to Still the Waves)" - it had sections when several choir members were whistling in this continuous falling arc, like the sound of the wind during a storm. Incredible. Their last encore was "Finlandia" - I'd never heard it in Finnish. I cried all the way through.
The drawback to yesterday's concert was that it was in Avery Fisher Hall - I mean, that's totally cool, because it's a famous hall and everything, but it's not great for voice. The tenor soloist kept being drowned out by the choir. So I'm excited to hear the program again tonight at the beautiful, intimate Finnish embassy. Wednesday's show, the one I can't go to, is at a church on Capitol Hill. Ooh, but I might go to their Performance Today taping on Thursday, if I can sneak away from work for a few hours.