Meet the Musician: Abel Puutstinen

Finnish violinist Abel Puutstinen has been the leader of the London Firebird Orchestra in several recent concerts. We find out more about his life and career in music…

Tell us a bit about yourself, your instrument and your training to date

I’m from Finland, but I’ve been living London for four years now. My instrument is a 18th century violin made by Giovanni Battista Guadagnini generously loaned by the Finnish Cultural Foundation. Before moving to London to further my studies I was at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki.

How long have you been involved with London Firebird Orchestra and in what role?

This is my second season playing with the LFO. I have had the honour to play as a concert master (leader) sitting next to my great colleagues and friends.


What other music ensembles and orchestras are you involved with?

I’ve mostly worked in Finnish orchestras such as Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, Finnish Radio Orchestra, Tapiola Sinfonietta and Turku Philharmonic Orchestra. In London I am trying to strike a balance between  playing with the Firebird Orchestra and various chamber music activities.

What have been the highlights of your career so far and your ambitions for the future?

The highlight of my career must have been playing Sibelius’ Violin Concerto in fully packed Helsinki Music Centre main hall. In the future I hope to get to play with many interesting musicians, play lots of chamber music and work with great orchestras. Once I have more time I also hope to start conducting one day.


What do you see as the value of an orchestra like London Firebird to younger professional musicians like yourself?

For me London Firebird Orchestra is a great combination of professional work and spending my time with friends while playing wonderful music. 

We as musicians should always aim for the highest possible level of music making and giving the audience superb experiences they will remember. For me there is no better way to do this than with your friends sitting collectively wanting to give your very best!

Finally, the music LFO plays is vital core repertoire for every classical musician. Exploring those pieces is always a great joy!


From the Earth to the Skies

Tuesday 25 February 2020, 7:30 pm
St George’s, Hanover Square, London, W1S 1FX

From the Earth to the Sky

Mozart Overture to Idomeneo, re di Creta, K, 366
Beethoven Piano Concerto no. 2 in B flat, Op. 19
Mozart Ilia’s Arias: Quando avran fine omai & Padre, germani, addio! (from Idomeneo)
Mozart Symphony no. 41 in C, K. 551 (Jupiter)

Conductor Michael Thrift
Piano Marc Corbett-Weaver
Soprano Rosanna Harris

Paganini on Tuesday

Join us for the next Firebird concert on Tuesday evening at St George’s Hanover Square for an evening of fantastic music including the world premiere of Yury Revich’s fresh look at Paganini’s 24 Caprices

Violinist Yury Revich has taken a fresh look at those incredibly demanding pieces by presenting all 24 Caprices for the first time with his newly composed accompaniment for full symphony orchestra.


Watch the video for a taster of what’s in store…

Yury explains: I believe this new version of the Caprices brings a fusion of the mystery of Paganini’s music and the magic with a modern symphonic sound. I would like to invite you to experience the magic of Paganini in our own time.


Mission Paganini with Yury Revich


Tuesday 22 October 2019, 7:30 pm
St George’s, Hanover Square, London, W1S 1FX

Donizetti Overture to Don Pasquale
Paganini/Revich The 24 Caprices
Puccini Quando m’en vo’ (from La Boheme) & O mio babbino caro (from Gianni Schicchi)

Conductor George Jackson
Violin Yury Revich
Soprano Sky Ingram

This concert has been generously sponsored by Rory Graham in memory of James B Cairns

Meet the Soloist: Sky Ingram

Gracing the stage for Mission Paganini alongside violinist Yury Revich on 22nd October is renowned Australian soprano Sky Ingram. We find out more about her dazzling career…

Having trained at the National Opera Studio, the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, and the Elder Conservatorium at the University of Adelaide, it’s certain that Sky will deliver a magical performance featuring some fabulous arias by Puccini.

A multi-award winning and multi-talented soprano, Sky – who is now based in London – has performed all over the world.

She made her debut in the role of Lea in the world premiere of Glare for the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, to huge critical acclaim, returning the following year to sing the goddess Venus in Rossi’s Orpheus.


Sky Ingram

Her American debut was as Avis in The Wreckers for Bard SummerScape in New York, and she continued on to sing the title role of Rusalka in Valladolid, Spain, and La Contessa in Le Nozze di Figaroin Kristiansand, Norway. Most recently, Sky debuted Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni with Garsington Opera and again in Paris at the Théâtre des Champs Élysées.

Since the age of 11, with her first school music scholarship, Sky has gone on to win several music awards, scholarships and competitions in both Australia and the UK including; Opera Awards Foundation Bursary, 5MBS Young Performer of the Year, Harold Rosenthal Prize, Simon Fletcher Charitable Trust Bursary, Australian Music Foundation Scholarship, Wingate Scholarship, SA Young Achiever of the Year (Arts section), George Boland Scholarship, Scholarships for various Opera Courses.

After winning the 2011 ROSL Overseas Trophy for the most outstanding musician from overseas, Sky Ingram was invited by Her Majesty The Queen to a reception at Buckingham Palace for ‘Australians of significance’ living and working in the UK.


Don’t miss this exciting opportunity to catch Sky in action performing in a concert that also features the world premiere of a new orchestral accompaniment to Paganini’s 24 Caprices by violinist Yury Revich.


Mission Paganini with Yury Revich

Tuesday 22 October 2019, 7:30 pm
St George’s, Hanover Square, London, W1S 1FX

Donizetti Overture to Don Pasquale
Paganini/Revich The 24 Caprices
Puccini Quando m’en vo’ (from La Boheme) & O mio babbino caro (from Gianni Schicchi)

Conductor George Jackson
Violin Yury Revich
Soprano Sky Ingram

This concert has been generously sponsored by Rory Graham in memory of James B Cairns

Mission Paganini

We find out more about the next Firebird concert on 22 October which will be one of the highlights of the new season and will feature the world premiere of Yury Revich’s arrangement of Paganini’s 24 Caprices for violin and orchestra…

Niccolò Paganini was a major reformer, a great violin virtuoso, and a musician with an incredible charisma. According to legend, he even sold his soul to the devil!

Among Paganini’s many compositions are his 24 Caprices for Violin Op.1. These are considered the most technically difficult works ever written for this instrument.

Violinist Yuri Revich has taken a fresh look at those incredibly demanding pieces by presenting all 24 Caprices for the first time with his newly composed accompaniment for full symphony orchestra.


Yury explains: ‘I believe this new version of the Caprices brings a fusion of the mystery of Paganini’s music and the magic with a modern symphonic sound. I would like to invite you to experience the magic of Paganini in our own time. Mission Paganini, is something you won’t want to miss!’blooded authority, fleet-fingered dexterity, innate musicality and substantial accuracy…’

Paganini was born in what was then the Republic of Genoa – now part of Italy – in 1782. At the age of 18 he was appointed first violin of the Republic of Lucca where his fame as a violinist is said to been matched only by his reputation as a gambler and womaniser. 

In 1805, the region was ceded to Napoleon’s sister, Elisa Baciocchi, who was to become the Grand Duchess of Tuscany. Paganini became a violinist in her court before becoming a travelling virtuoso and composer.

His first big break came in 1813 with an enormous success at La Scala in Milan. In 1827, Pope Leo XII honoured Paganini with the Order of the Golden Spur and his fame spread across Europe.

After a period of chronic illnesses Paganini returned to Parma in 1835 under the employ of Archduchess Marie Louise of Austria, Napoleon’s second wife. But after falling out with the orchestra and the court he left for Paris to set up a casino. Its immediate failure left him in financial ruin, and he auctioned off his personal effects, including his musical instruments before his tragic death in 1840.


Mission Paganini with Yury Revich
Tuesday 22 October 2019, 7:30 pm
St George’s, Hanover Square, London, W1S 1FX

Donizetti Overture to Don Pasquale
Paganini/Revich The 24 Caprices
Puccini Quando m’en vo’ (from La Boheme) & O mio babbino caro (from Gianni Schicchi)

Conductor George Jackson
Violin Yury Revich
Soprano Sky Ingram

This concert has been generously sponsored by Rory Graham in memory of James B Cairns

Mission Paganini with Yury Revich

Firebird’s next concert on 22 October sees the return of internationally celebrated violinist Yury Revich and the world premiere of his arrangement of Paganini’s 24 Caprices alongside music by Donizetti and Puccini.

Following a magnificent performance of Paganini’s Violin Concerto no. 2 which enraptured Firebird’s audience in June, the internationally celebrated violinist Yury Revich returns with much anticipation.

Yury has arranged Paganini’s 24 Caprices – dazzling gemstones of the violin repertoire – for solo violin and orchestra and has offered Firebird the honour of premièring them on 22 October.


‘Yury Revich played with full-blooded authority, fleet-fingered dexterity, innate musicality and substantial accuracy…’
The Strad


Yury plays a 1709 Stradivarius and performs all over the world, with orchestras like the Royal Philharmonic, the Russian National Orchestra and La Verdi Milano at such venues as Carnegie Hall, the Berlin Philharmonie and Vienna Konzerthaus.

This tour through the Caprices promises to be a spectacular virtuosic feat. We extend the Italian theme with Donizetti’s capricious Overture to Don Pasquale.

Straight from the stages of Opera North and English Touring Opera comes Sky Ingram for two of Puccini’s most adored arias.

Mission Paganini with Yury Revich
Tuesday 22 October 2019, 7:30 pm
St George’s, Hanover Square, London, W1S 1FX

Donizetti Overture to Don Pasquale
Paganini/Revich The 24 Caprices
Puccini Quando m’en vo’ (from La Boheme) & O mio babbino caro (from Gianni Schicchi)

Conductor George Jackson
Violin Yury Revich
Soprano Sky Ingram

This concert has been generously sponsored by Rory Graham in memory of James B Cairns

What’s in a Key?

London Firebird Orchestra’s fantastic new season is ‘bookended’ by two concerts featuring music is specific keys. But what does this actually mean?

A Major Evening

On Thursday 26 September 2019 Firebird presents A Major Evening with music by Beethoven and Mozart – and predominantly in the key of A Major.

A Major Evening

Beethoven Coriolan Overture, Op. 72
Mozart Clarinet Concerto in A, K. 622
Mozart Tamino’s Aria: Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schön (from The Magic Flute)
Beethoven Symphony no. 7 in A, Op. 92

Conductor George Jackson
Clarinet James Meldrum
Tenor John Findon

B MINOR WITH LOVE

Thursday 11 June 2020 sees B Minor with Love, with music by Dvorak and Tchaikovsky – and centred around the key of B minor.

B Minor with Love

Dvorak Cello Concerto in B minor, Op. 104
Winner of the Firebird Young Composer of the Year Competition New Work (World Première)
Tchaikovsky Symphony no. 6 in B minor, Op. 74 (Pathétique)

Conductor Michael Thrift
Cello Aleksei Kiseliov

In music, the key of the piece is the group of notes or scale which form the basis of the composition. Each key has certain characteristics which differentiates it from another.

Western music is usually grouped into two types – Major and Minor – although there are many other types or ‘Modes’ used in different musical styles around the world.

Science laboratories throughout the country will probably have a periodic table on the wall. Music classrooms will have something equally daunting to the uninitiated – The Circle of Fifths.

Pythagoras

It all goes back to the Ancient Greeks and Pythagoras in 600BC. He had been experimenting with different lengths of vibrating string and had discovered the relationships between pitch frequencies.

He defined one of these relationships the octave and divided it up into twelve steps. This was what we call a scale. On a piano it is easy to see with a mixture of black and white keys:

This developed into the Pythagorean Circle and the version we have today – the Circle of Fifths – is like a map of the keys. Starting at the top in C major and moving clockwise, the adjacent keys are the most similar to each other with each one having an additional sharp (a step higher).

As you go round the circle counter-clockwise you keep adding flats (a step lower). Nestled snugly inside the major circle you find the relative minor keys which have all the same sharps of flats as their major counterparts.

But of course, understanding the cycle of fifths has absolutely no bearing on the enjoyment of this wonderful music – and this years season truly is a feast for the senses. We do hope you can join us for the opening concert of the season on Thursday 26 September for A Major Evening.

Conductor George Jackson

One of London Firebird’s conductors for the 2019/20 season, George Jackson, gives his overview of the first two concerts in September and October this year…

Since winning the Aspen Conducting Prize in 2015, London-born conductor George Jackson’s career has taken off around Europe with engagements ranging from the Orchestre de Paris to the London Symphony Orchestra, and from Opera North and Grange Park Opera to Kammeroper Frankfurt.

26 September is the date for the first concert: A Major Evening featuring music by Beethoven and Mozart.  Firstly, George tells us about two works by Beethoven in this delightful season opener:

George goes on to tell us about the and a brilliant concerto for clarinet written in 1791, played by risking star James Meldrum, and an aria from one of Mozart’s most populate operas with tenor, John Findon.

Mozart from Revolution Arts on Vimeo.

A Major Evening

Thursday 26 September 2019, 7:30 pm
St George’s, Hanover Square, London, W1S 1FX

A Major Evening

Beethoven Coriolan Overture, Op. 72
Mozart Clarinet Concerto in A, K. 622
Mozart Tamino’s Aria: Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schön (from The Magic Flute)
Beethoven Symphony no. 7 in A, Op. 92

Conductor George Jackson
Clarinet James Meldrum
Tenor John Findon

George Jackson conducted … a magnificent account of the score,” 
The Telegraph

And on 22 October we welcome back the fantastic violinist, Yuri Revich for Mission Paganini, a in a marvellous celebration of Italian music. George tells us more about this exciting event which also stars the fabulous soprano, Sky Ingram:

Mission Paganini with Yuri Revich

Tuesday 22 October 2019, 7:30 pm
St George’s, Hanover Square, London, W1S 1FX

Mission Paganini with Yury Revich

Donizetti Overture to Don Pasquale
Paganini/Revich The 24 Caprices
Puccini Quando m’en vo’ (from La Boheme) & O mio babbino caro (from Gianni Schicchi)

Conductor George Jackson
Violin Yury Revich
Soprano Sky Ingram

This concert has been generously sponsored by Rory Graham in memory of James B Cairns

“Yury Revich played with full-blooded authority, innate musicality and substantial accuracy…”
The Strad

Firebird’s new season revealed

London Firebird Orchestra’s new video sets the scene for a fabulous new season of concerts for 2019/20 featuring an outstanding programme of magnificent music, sensational soloists and charismatic conductors…

A Major Evening

Thursday 26 September 2019, 7:30 pm
St George’s, Hanover Square, London, W1S 1FX

A Major Evening

Beethoven Coriolan Overture, Op. 72
Mozart Clarinet Concerto in A, K. 622
Mozart Tamino’s Aria: Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schön (from The Magic Flute)
Beethoven Symphony no. 7 in A, Op. 92

Conductor George Jackson
Clarinet James Meldrum
Tenor John Findon

“George Jackson conducted … a magnificent account of the score”  The Daily Telegraph

Mission Paganini with Yury Revich

Tuesday 22 October 2019, 7:30 pm
St George’s, Hanover Square, London, W1S 1FX

Mission Paganini with Yury Revich

Donizetti Overture to Don Pasquale
Paganini/Revich The 24 Caprices
Puccini Quando m’en vo’ (from La Boheme) & O mio babbino caro (from Gianni Schicchi)

Conductor George Jackson
Violin Yury Revich
Soprano Sky Ingram

This concert has been generously sponsored by Rory Graham in memory of James B Cairns

“Yury Revich played with full-blooded authority, innate musicality and substantial accuracy…”  The Strad

FROM THE EARTH TO THE SKIES

Tuesday 25 February 2020, 7:30 pm
St George’s, Hanover Square, London, W1S 1FX

From the Earth to the Sky

Mozart Overture to Idomeneo, re di Creta, K, 366
Beethoven Piano Concerto no. 2 in B flat, Op. 19
Mozart Ilia’s Arias: Quando avran fine omai & Padre, germani, addio! (from Idomeneo)
Mozart Symphony no. 41 in C, K. 551 (Jupiter)

Conductor Michael Thrift
Piano Marc Corbett-Weaver
Soprano Rosanna Harris

“Marc Corbett-Weaver… fully immersed in the subtleties and considerable technical demands of each composer’s writing,” Musical Opinion

THE FIRST CUCKOO: NATURE UNWRAPPED

Sunday 22 March 2020, 6:30 pm
King’s Place, London, N1 9AG

The First Cuckoo

Delius On Hearing the First Cuckoo
Delius Spring Summer Night on the River
Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64
Mozart The Queen of the Night Arias: Der Hölle Rache & O zittre nicht (from The Magic Flute)
Haydn Symphony no. 83 in G minor, Hob.I:83 (La Poule)

Conductor George Jackson
Violin Emmanuel Bach
Coloratura Samantha Hay

“…dazzling coloratura and fearless top notes drew audible gasps!”  Intermezzo.com

FIREBIRD FOR SCHOOLS

Thursday 14 May 2020, 1:30 pm
St George’s, Hanover Square, London, W1S 1FX

Firebird for Schools

Programme to include:
Prokofiev Peter and the Wolf, Op.67

Conductor George Jackson

“Marvellous responses!” Emily Bohill, London Music Teacher

B MINOR WITH LOVE

Thursday 11 June 2020, 7:30 pm
St George’s, Hanover Square, London, W1S 1FX

B Minor with Love

Dvorak Cello Concerto in B minor, Op. 104
Winner of the Firebird Young Composer of the Year Competition New Work (World Première)
Tchaikovsky Symphony no. 6 in B minor, Op. 74 (Pathétique)

Conductor Michael Thrift
Cello Aleksei Kiseliov

“Michael Thrift… deeply contemporary, with sinuous lines and sour harmonies creating a brooding, desperate mood,” Operissimo

London Firebird Orchestra
London Firebird Orchestra

Sibelius the Symphonist

One of the main works in the Firebird concert on 11 June is Sibelius’s 5th Symphony. We find out more about the symphonies of Finland’s national hero…

Being credited with developing a country’s national identity is some accolade, but the symphonies of Jean Sibelius (1865-1957) helped define Finland’s struggle for independence.

Positioned precariously between Sweden and Russia, Finland had been part of the kingdom of Sweden since the middle ages. The 18th century ’Great Wrath’ wars twice led to the occupation of Finland by Russian forces.

Following the 1917 Russian Revolution, Finland declared itself independent but the fledgling state was divided by civil war. And during World War II, the Soviet Union sought repeatedly to occupy Finland.

But finally in 1955 Finland joined the United Nations and established an official policy of neutrality. Joining the Eurozone in 1995, Finland now ranks first on recent World Happiness Report reports.

The Sibelius Symphonies Edition

The core of Sibelius’s work as a composer are his seven symphonies. But after his Seventh Symphony in 1924 he stopped producing major works in his last thirty years of his life.

His First Symphony of 1899 was composed at a time when patriotic feelings were being enhanced by the Russian emperor Nicholas II’s attempt to restrict the powers of the Grand Duchy of Finland. It was performed in a concert with several of his blatantly patriotic songs which immediately brought him the status of a national hero.

The 1902 Second Symphony was premiered during a period of Russian oppression and was received with tremendous enthusiasm by the Finns which further consolidated his reputation.

Despite bouts of excessive wining and dining in Helsinki, spending exorbitant amounts on champagne and lobster, Sibelius finally resolved to give up drinking to concentrate on composing his Third Symphony which uses themes from Finnish folk music. A reviewer described it as ‘internally new and revolutionary’.

But by 1907 his smoking and drinking had become life-threatening and he had a tumour removed from his throat in Berlin. After the operation, he vowed to give up smoking and drinking once and for all.

The impact of this brush with death inspired his Fourth Symphony. But its introspective style was not warmly received in Helsinki and in New York members of audience left between movements with the Boston American labelling it ‘a sad failure’.

An extract from the score of Sibelius’s Fifth Symphony

While travelling back from the US, Sibelius heard about the events in Sarajevo that led to the beginning of the First World War and he began working on his Fifth Symphony.

The sight of 16 swans flying by inspired him to write the finale. ‘One of the great experiences of my life!’ he commented. Sibelius conducted the premiere of the Fifth Symphony on the eve of his 50th birthday.

After several rewrites, and a resumption of the drinking, the work was finished coinciding with the Russian Revolution which was to have a significant impact on his life and those around him.

Sibelius in 1939

Following Finland’s liberation he premiered his Sixth Symphony in 1923 and at a subsequent performance in Gothenburg he enjoyed an ecstatic reception despite arriving at the concert hall suffering from over-indulgence in food and drink. Following the premiere of his Seventh Symphony in 1924 Sibelius was honoured with the Knight Commander’s Cross of the Order of the Dannebrog.

Although Sibelius started work on an eighth symphony it was not to be. Sibelius had always been self-critical remarking ‘If I cannot write a better symphony than my Seventh, then it shall be my last.’ He consigned all his surviving manuscripts to the flames in 1945.

At the time of his death in 1957, his Fifth Symphony was being broadcast from Helsinki. At the same time, the UN was in session and a moment of silence was called with the President saying: ‘Sibelius belonged to the whole world. With his music, he enriched the life of the entire human race’.

Sibelius in Summer

Tuesday 11 June 2019 7.30pm
St George’s Hanover Square, London

Rossini Overture to Il Barbiere di Siviglia
Paganini Violin Concerto no. 2
Angela Slater Twilight Inversions (World Première – Firebird Composer of the Year Winner)
Sibelius Symphony No. 5 Op. 82

Michael Thrift conductor
Yury Revich violin

Meet the artist: Yury Revich

We meet the dazzling young virtuoso violinist, Yury Revich, who is the soloist in an incredible display of virtuosity in the next Firebird concert on 11 June…

Born in Moscow in 1991, Yury Revich now resides in Vienna and holds Austrian citizenship. Amongst his awards are the first prize at the International Virtuosi of the 21st Century competition in Moscow and the Young Artist of the Year 2015 by the International Classical Music Awards (ICMA). 

‘Full-blooded authority, fleet-fingered dexterity, innate musicality and substantial accuracy…’  The Strad

Yury Revich performing the Russian Dance from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake live at the Montenegrin National Theatre’s New Year’s Concert.

Yury made his debut at the Carnegie Hall at the age of 18. Since then he has performed internationally at festivals in France, Germany, Italy, Georgia, Lebanon, Switzerland, Austria, Israel and in many other countries. He has also performed at major venues including the Berlin Philharmonie, Vienna Musikverein, Leipzig Gewandhaus, Zurich Tonhalle and La Scala in Milan.

His recordings to date are featured on labels such as Sony Classical as well as ARS records for which he won his ECHO Klassik Award.

‘…already regarded as a young Paganini: This is the violinist Yury Revich’  Radio Uno, Italy

Yury is also a passionate advocate for many charitable and philanthropic causes. He co-organized a concert in Vienna in 2011 for the victims of the Japanese tsunami. In 2015 he organised the First Austrian Gala Charity All for Autism which has become one the biggest Autism Awareness events in Europe. An official partner of UNICEF Austria, Yury hosts an annual Dreamland Gala for UNICEF as part of his Friday Nights with Yury Revich international concert cycle in Vienna.

Yury also lives out his creativity in the film medium having also studied directing and acting. Above is an example of one of his delightful short films, entitled Confusion.

Yury Revich will perform Paganini’s wonderful Second Violin Concerto on 11 June in a fabulous evening of the very best in classical music. Under their conductor Michael Thrift, Firebird will also perform a lively overture by Rossini, an exciting premiere by the winner of the Firebird Composer of the Year Angela Slater and Sibelius’s beautiful Fifth Symphony. 

Sibelius in Summer

Tuesday 11 June 2019 7.30pm
St George’s Hanover Square, London

Rossini Overture to Il Barbiere di Siviglia
Paganini Violin Concerto no. 2
Angela Slater Twilight Inversions (World Première – Firebird Composer of the Year Winner)
Sibelius Symphony No. 5 Op. 82

Michael Thrift conductor
Yury Revich violin