The ALLEGRO Youth Choir from Iisalmi, Finland
The Allegro Youth Choir comes from the small eastern Finnish town called Iisalmi. Surrounded by waters Iisalmi is the most northern town in the lake district area and it is a center for an economic zone with some 62 000 inhabitants. The area is well known for its lively cultural life especially for high quality choirs and amateur theatres.
The Allegro was founded in 1997 and it acts as an alliance choir between the Ylä Savo Music Institute and the local schools. There are some 40 comprehensive and high school age girls and young women singing and learning in the Allegro. Majority of the singers are from Juhani Aho Comprehensive School and Iisalmi High School. Both schools are situated in the Iisalmi town centre near the Cultural Centre, where the choir has its weekly rehearsals. (link http://www.iisalmi.fi/In_english/Welcome_to_Iisalmi.iw3)
The repertoire is very versatile, from rap to folk music, from spiritual to pop music, not forgetting the traditional choir music. The choir has had yearly several own concerts and numerous other performances.
The Allegro Youth Choir has an active collaboration with other music groups in the Ylä Savo area and it participates with an open minded attitude in different types of music events and competitions. In addition there is the Piccolo Allegro the choir of girls age 6-8 years and the Jussit the choir of boys and they occasionally perform together with the Allegro Youth Choir.
The conductor of the choir is a local music lecturer Susanna Alajuuma-Kettunen. In autumn 2009 she started her studies at the Sibelius Academy church music department in Kuopio, Finland.
In the Allegro there is an emphasis on natural performance and on versatile expression which are very important life skills. PE lecturer Kati Tenhunen has been responsible for the choreography of the choir. The management of the choir has received several acknowledgements for meritorious choir and singing training work.
In accordance with its name the Allegro Youth Choir has advanced quickly from one aim to another. The choir has performed already some 50 concerts and well over 100 gigs. In 2007 the Allegro received an honorary mention for excellent tune and for Northern Savo woman energy in a national Nuori Kulttuuri audition.
At Christmas 2008 the Allegro released its first album. Lasse Heikkilä’s musical called "Joulun Sankari" (Christmas Hero) has been in the choir’s repertoire for two years and it was recorded in collaboration mainly with an orchestra which consisted of teachers at the Ylä Savo Music Institute. The orchestra was conducted by a local teacher Ismo Vänskä.
The Allegro Youth Choir is the youth choir of the year for the season 2010-2011 by the Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE). By choosing the youth choir of the year YLE wants to support the high standard of the Finnish youth choir activity. The choice as the choir of the year by YLE brought along two radio broadcasted concerts. The Allegro’s traditional Advent Concert was broadcasted on 28th November 2010 in Kustaa Adolf church in Iisalmi. The programme of the Christmas concert consisted mainly of the music in Joulun Sankari musical. The essential part of the concert was the debut performances of Christmas carols composed for the Allegro by Hannu Virpi and Petri Herranen, both from Iisalmi. In May 2011 a Granite concert was broadcasted as a part of the collaboration with YLE.
In this concert along other music was heard a debut performance of a work composed for the choir by Mikko Sidorov based on a poem by Eino Leino, the Finnish national poet. Additionally songs by the Allegro were recorded for YLE for later use.
International education is an essential part of the choir’s activity. Every year the Allegro has made a concert tour abroad. The choir has performed among other countries in Sweden (Nyköping), in Latvia (Riga), in Germany (Lüneburg), in USA (New York, Washington) and in Thailand (Bangkok). In May 2010 the choir visited Hildeheim in Germany and in autumn 2011 the choir will travel to France to perform a concert in collaboration with Joigny Music School.
Visit the choir’s website www.nuoriskuoroallegro.fi for more information about current events, pictures of choir’s activity and performances.