MSO to host ‘Sounds of Suomi: A World Premiere!’ on Saturday

Alex Jokipii, principal trumpet of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and an Escanaba native, will act as trumpet soloist during the “Sounds of Suomi: A World Premiere!” concert at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Kaufman Auditorium in Marquette. The concert is hosted by the Marquette Symphony Orchestra. (Courtesy photo)

MARQUETTE — The Marquette Symphony Orchestra will host its “Sounds of Suomi: A World Premiere!” concert at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Kaufman Auditorium in Marquette.

The performance will include the Concerto for Trumpet and Orchestra, op. 36, by Finnish composer Jaakko Kuusisto. The concerto was commissioned by the Marquette Symphony Orchestra with the support of a gift from longtime Marquette residents John and Pauline Kiltinen.

“Perhaps with some influence from the solo instrument, this piece carries something of a jazzy flavour,” according to a program note by Kuusisto. “Mostly, it comes through my use of harmonies and some rhythmical elements.”

Helsinki-born Kuusisto is currently the artistic director of the Oulu Music Festival. He has played and studied music all his life, and has had an extensive career, launched in the 1990s with success in international violin competitions.

Kuusisto will be guest conductor for the Marquette Symphony Orchestra performance, and Alex Jokipii, principal trumpet of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and an Escanaba native, will act as trumpet soloist.

Jokipii studied music at Western Michigan University, the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki and was awarded a master of music degree in trumpet performance from the Juilliard School of Music. In addition to playing with the Buffalo Philharmonic and teaching privately, Jokipii is also on the performance faculty at the State University of New York at Fredonia.

Both Kuusisto and Jokipii’s appearances were made possible with support from the Kiltinens, who have been leading musical philanthropists in Marquette for many years, Stephen Grugin, a member of the MSO, wrote in a press release.

“They have given their time, talent, energy and financial support to numerous musical organizations by commissioning significant musical works, sponsoring concerts and soloists, contributing to projects and activities, and offering their service and advice in planning various musical endeavors,” Grugin wrote.

Both Kiltinens have connections to music, with John — who taught mathematics at Northern Michigan University — having played in the NMU band and Pauline — who taught French at Gwinn schools — being the longtime organist at St. Mark’s Church. They are also founding members of the Marquette Choral Society.

Additionally, the Kiltinens have been very active with Finnish organizations over the years, Grugin said. On sabbatical from NMU during the 1978-79 academic year, John traveled to Finland, and Pauline is currently serving as vice president of the U.P. chapter of the League of Finnish American Societies.

Finland’s current Centennial Celebration has inspired some major recent initiatives and involvement by the Kiltinens, including helping to send the Marquette City Band and Marquette Choral Society on their concert tours to Finland this summer.

“Tonight’s performance illustrates not only John’s and Pauline’s pride in their Finnish heritage but also their selfless desire to share it with others in the context of a musical performance,” Grugin wrote. “They have created a huge greeting card that members of the audience are invited to sign to express our community’s well wishes to the people of Finland celebrating Suomi Finland 100 on Dec. 6.”

When asked, according to the release, why he has supported all of these endeavors, John said, “There’s nothing I’d rather do than promote musical activities.”