Pekka Kuusisto & Ilona Korhonen introduce Finnish runo-song

On 28 September, Finnish performers Pekka Kuusisto and Ilona Korhonen come together to perform finnish runo-song at Southbank Centre, as part of Nordic Music Days. Ahead of their performance the pair spoke with the Philharmonia Orchestra about the roots of Jean Sibelius’ music, why hearing runo-song will transform your understanding of his work.

Sibelius's Roots: An Interview with Pekka Kuusisto & Ilona Korhonen (Philharmonia Orchestra)

In 1891, Finnish composer Jean Sibelius met Larin Paraske, a woman who was an expert in runo-song or rune singing – an ancient form of poetic storytelling. It was after this meeting, that Sibelius’s compositions underwent an important change of style. According to Pekka Kuusisto, ‘something clicks and he seems to connect to a much further back time in history. The language gets suddenly transformed into something that is sort of global and eternal; something that can speak to pretty much, I would say, anyone anywhere, at any time.’

Pekka Kuusisto and Ilona Korhonen present their contemporary perspective on Finnish runo-song on 28 September in The Clore Ballroom at 9.45pm, following the Philharmonia Orchestra’s concert featuring two Sibelius symphonies.

Runo actually means ‘poem’ in Finnish, but you can’t say that this is poem singing, because runo-song means so much more
Ilona Korhonen