Helsinki Finnish Club
The history of the Helsinki Finnish Club is a fascinating chapter in the history of the Finnish nationalist movement towards the end of the 19th century. During this period of time, Finland was part of Russia as an autonomous Grand Duchy, after belonging to the Swedish monarchy for centuries. After the middle of the 19th century there was a gradual change from subservience over to nationalist thinking along with the awakening of parliamentary activities and cultural life.
In 1876 Luku- ja Konversationi-klubbi Helsingissä? (The Reading and Conversational Club in Helsinki) was founded in the capital and its rules were ratified in the Senate on April 25th, 1876, which consequently is the birthday of our Club.
The founders of the Club were young men whose average age was only 34 years and most of whom were masters of arts or lawyers. There were few entrepreneurs among them.
At that time there was severe competition between the Finnish-speaking (Fennomans) and the Swedish-speaking (Svekomans) intelligentsia. It was the guiding principle of the Fennomans that the Finnish culture cannot become national and the common property of the nation unless the nation became Finnish- speaking, whereas the Svekomans were of In one sense, the Finnish Club was established to strengthen the position of the Finnish language and culture and to alleviate the language exchange of the members.
It was the time of the Assembly of the Representatives of Estates. The Fennomans of different estates needed a place to assemble, so the Finnish Club became a parliamentary club where the fennophile policies were discussed and agreed upon over class distinctions.
At the beginning of the year 2013 the Club counted over 3000 members accepted by the Club’s executive board on the basis of a written application and recommendation by two Club members.
The members are to be male Finnish citizens of good reputation and they are to accept the objective of the Club as stated in paragraph two of the rules.
The Club choir is the great success story of the Club. The choir entertains audiences on various occasions. The choir gives several concerts each year at home and abroad.
Origin of the Club choir
While laying out program for the 125th anniversary of the Helsinki Finnish Club in spring 2000 the board of the festival came up with an idea that such an important festival necessarily neede high-level Finnish male choir music and to achieve that goal, a high-level choir ought to be summoned from among the club members.
Rather quickly a body of more than thirty singers was got together, and Club brother Henrik Lamberg was engaged to conduct the new choir. Consequently the Finnish Club choir was instituted, and the first rehearsals could be started. After only a couple of training sessions the choir was ready to perform at the 125th anniversary of the Finnish Club at the Helsinki University Hall to a prestigious audience on 25.4.2001.
A Club member is eligible to join the choir provided the director and the music board of the choir have accepted the audition of the aspirant. Nowadays there are more than forty active singers in the Club choir.
The Finnish Club choir is a member of the Finnish Male Choir Union.
Concerts at home
Already at the early stages the choir established its own rhythm of concerts. Regularly the choir gives concerts before Christmas and the day of Flora (13.5.). In addition the choir has performed at many occasions organized by the Club, e.g. The Independence Day celebrations, war-veterans' memorial ceremony, and other social events. In addition smaller groupings have been performing at the Club Members birthday or jubilee celebrations. While the reputation and the ability of the choir have increased the choir has received more and more invitations to perform at important patriotic occasions.
The main purpose of the choir is to cherish the Finnish national male choir tradition and its values, and to seek new fields of conquest.
In spite of its young age the choir has managed to give concerts in many countries:
Spring 2003 in Tartu, Estonia, summer 2004 Budapest and Lake Balaton , Hungary, and in April 2006 in Estoril and Lisbon, Portugal. In May 2008 the choir had a successful concert tour in Krakow, Poland, and neighboring areas. The local host male choir, Echo , invited representatives of our choir to participate in their 90th anniversary in October 2009. The Club choir sent a double quartet to represent them at the occasion, and they appeared at Echo's 90th anniversary concert.
In June 2011 the choir travelled to Prague, Czech Republic.
The second concert tour to Portugal was carried out in March 2013. The tour consisted of three full-length concerts in Portimao, Tavira and Säo Brás de Alportel. In addition there were two excursions in different parts of Algarve Province.
The repertoire of the choir consists of traditional Finnish and foreign male choir compositions, including popular light music. The individual character of the choir's repertoire is shown by the choice of concert themes designed by our conductor Henrik Lamberg.
A new field of conquest in 2007 was the ”Grand Opera Concert” on the day of Flora at the House of Nobility. We performed well-known opera choir scenes with eminent soloists.
The spring concert in 2008 ”Singing to my child” was again a new territorial conquest for Finnish male choir music. Our conducter had arranged familiar nursery songs for a male choir.
The newest conquest is the world of ballet. The Club choir together with the Small Finnsh Ballet Group implemented on 11th of November 2012 (Father's Day) an experimental project called ”Finnish Club choir sings ballet” at the Alexander Theater.