Verkatehdas Turns 10 in Its Own Style

[FRI MAY 5 2017; B8-B9; ’Verkatehdas täyttää 10 omalla tyylillään’, Ursula Ryynänen]


Verkatehdas has had around nine million visitors in ten years. Very few people are allowed in the monitoring room of the Vanaja Hall. People like communications chief Juha Paaso and CEO Jouko Astor. – This amount of visitors means that every Finn has visited here twice over, calculates Astor. PHOTO: Pekka Rautiainen


* There will be a yet unpublished rock performer at the free festival.

* The culture and concert center is taking the risk of producing three classical concerts in the Fall.


No specially invited guests, no grand speeches, no book publishings. And definitely no formalities!

– Verkatehdas has never adhered to archaic customs. Why should we do so in our festivities? says CEO of Verkatehdas Oy Jouko Astor.

The question is completely rhetorical, and visitors can celebrate the tenth anniversary of Verkatehdas at their own leisure. It goes well with the Night of the Arts held on the same day, Friday May 25th.

In Café Verkatehdas, there will be live music, air acrobatics, and good food. In the Vanaja Hall, there will be opera singing and rock music.

– It’s free access everywhere. We’ll announce the late night rock performer later, so there won’t be a camping site outside the doors.


The celebration continues throughout the Fall with concerts and circus acts. Astor finds reminiscence in the program.

– It’s not logical or comprehensive, but every event has a connection to the past.

Olli Mustonen performed at the inauguration of the main building of Verkatehdas on July 31 2007, and he will return this Fall as both pianist and composer.


The November concert in the Vanaja Hall starts Mustonen’s new grand project: he intends to play all of Beethoven’s piano sonatas in solo concerts during a few years.

In December guitarist Ismo Eskelinen and mezzo soprano Virpi Räisänen will perform poems of Aleksis Kivi adapted into songs by Mustonen. Mustonen’s Sonata No. 2 for Guitar will also get its Finnish premiere in December.


Of the premiere shows, Astor points out Kerkko Koskinen’s concerto for two saxophones and an orchestra played in Vanaja Hall by Timo Lassy, Linda Fedriksson, and Sinfonia Lahti.

– Helsingin Sanomat wrote about it recently, saying it’s a much anticipated event.

Astor is rightly happy with the program, but also a little nervous. Because Hämeenlinna is producing only two Sinfonia Lahti performances this Fall, Verkatehdas itself will produce three more classical concerts.


The Sibelius Celebrations Foundation was run down in the beginning of the year, which brought down visions hopes for significant classical concerts in Hämeenlinna. Astor thinks harnessing the Vanaja Hall to adult pop would not serve the interest of the citizens of Hämeenlinna.

– Our goal is to return to a varied, timely program. To hold few but top of the line concerts.

Verkatehdas is currently battling problems concerning space. There are not enough weekends in a year for everyone interested in reserving the Vanaja Hall, and there are not enough rooms appropriate for the needs of congress costumers.

On the other hand, tenants like the Hämeenlinna City Theater and the Sibelius Academy have had to reduce their spaces, and Vanajaveden Opisto is moving out.


Reasons for complacence are plenty in the history of the building. The obvious events like residence productions, the Night of the Arts, and the Verkatehdas May Day, all have their beginnings somewhere in the past.

According to the CEO, Verkatehdas has chosen to take initiative, but will continue to be a factor between spaces and emotions.

– I remember when, during the break of a Vesa-Matti Loiri concert, a lady walked up to me and told me the lights in the Hall should be turned off so she can cry in peace.

– People need more places where they can unravel their feelings. I guess that’s why we are here, Astor says.



Celebrating 10 years


Anniversary celebration on the Night of the Arts on Friday August 25 at 18:00 to 01:00

* In the Vanaja Hall, tenor Tuomas Katajala and pianist Miikka Lehtoaho, late night rock performer announced later

* In Café Verkatehdas and the glass-roofed hall, Local Voices, Vuokko Hovatta and Jarmo Julkunen, and the air acrobats of the Zero Gravity Company

* The Let’s Eat! event

* Free access


In the Fall

* September 9 Sinfonia Lahti: conductor Dima Slobodeniouk, tenor saxophonist Timo Lassy, baritone saxophonist Linda Fredriksson

* October 12 and 13 Paula Koivuniemi folk

* November 2 Olli Mustonen, piano

* November 4 Värttinä feat. Paleface: Näin räppäs emoni ennen

* November 17 Sinfonia Lahti: conductor Carlos Kalmar, violinist Stefan Jackiw

* December 2 Helmiä: Suomi 100 – Mustonen 50; guitaris Ismo Eskelinen, mezzo soprano Virpi Räisänen

* December 4 and 5 Circo Aereo: Kinema

* December 8 String quartet Meta4 – the concert of Sibelius Day


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