The Tampere Vocal Music Festival, Finland’s largest festival dedicated to vocal music, brings performers to the concert halls, churches and streets of Tampere once more, from Tuesday to Sunday this week. The festival features choirs and vocal ensembles from all around the world.

The concert programme includes both Finnish and foreign groups. The festival opens with Ars Nova Copenhagen from Denmark giving the first concert in the Nordic Choir Expedition series, followed by Det Norske Solistkor from Norway, Eric Ericson’s Chamber Choir from Sweden and the Helsinki Chamber Choir from Finland. The winner of the Finnish Choir Conducting Competition 2018, Elisa Huovinen, conducts the professional Tampere Cappella in a concert that forms part of her competition prize.

The Chorus Review at the festival welcomes 47 choirs from seven countries this year. In addition to the usual large number of Finnish choirs, there are choirs from Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Iceland, Latvia and Russia. Most of the choirs performing are women’s choirs or mixed choirs, but there are also some male choirs, youth choirs and children’s choirs.

In the international Contest for Vocal Ensembles, 12 ensembles were selected in the pre-screening out of 18 applicants from nine countries. The ensembles performing in the Contest are from Colombia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Turkey and Uganda.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Contest for Vocal Ensembles, and the gala concert held to celebrate the occasion features Club for Five performing with the Tampere Filharmonia. Club for Five are joined by FORK and the Rajaton vocal ensemble at the Customs House to form a super-combo named AcaCartelli that gave its first performance at the Helsinki Festival. An exhibition detailing the history of the Contest is open in the Winter Garden at Tampere Hall for the duration of the festival.

The festival would not be complete without club nights. Tuuletar, a vocal folk hop band, are joined by Pekko Käppi, a wizard on the jouhikko (a traditional bowed lyre), and by Tuukka Haapaniemi, artistic director of this year’s Tampere Vocal Music Festival. Accent are a recently formed a cappella group of six young, talented singers from five countries who got together via social media. The vocal ensemble afterparty is headlined by the winners of the Grand Prix in the Contest for Vocal Ensembles in 2017, Quintense from Germany, and by a reincarnation of the legendary Finnish male quartet Kipparikvartetti.

The opening ceremony takes place on Laikunlava on Tuesday 4 June from 17.30, with the Harju Chamber Choir performing a programme of summer music under Heikki Liimola and Mari Kätkä leading the audience in community singing. From Wednesday, vocal music can be heard all around the town in the Feel the Festival! series of free concerts, and there are more community singing events as well. The festival programme is rounded off by a variety of courses and exhibitions.