The artists’ Sibelius concert has become the all-time most popular children’s concert in Finland. As of 2010, Konserttikeskus (Concert Centre Finland) has arranged over 1,300 school concerts across Finland, and these concerts have had already over 300,000 listeners. The artists’ school concerts have also achieved great success outside Finland: in Hong Kong, Italy, Belgium, Norway and the United States.
In the narrative children’s concerts, the artist perform Sibelius’ music and, between the songs, tell the listeners stories about Sibelius’ life and the compositions heard at the concert in an absorbing way. The scripts for the narrative concerts have been written by cellist Jussi Makkonen, and the Sibelius Society of Hämeenlinna granted him a Sibelius Birthplace Medal in December 2014 for his merits as a performer of Sibelius’ music to hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren. In August 2015, Makkonen was granted an acknowledgement award by the Kalevala Jewelry Cultural Foundation for his outstanding work for Finnish culture.
The children and schoolchildren’s multimedia concert offers the best bits of the Sibelius Inspiration multimedia concert. The new multimedia concert has been performed at schools as of autumn 2015, and the response has been very enthusiastic.
In January 2015, Melody Forest – In the Footsteps of Jean Sibelius, a children’s picture book created at Makkonen and Azezian’s initiative, was released in Finnish, English and Swedish. The book has become one of the best-selling children’s books in Finland. The Melody Forest book was illustrated by Katri Kirkkopelto, and has been distributed to every Finnish elementary school with the support of the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture in 2015. You can watch a video on the book’s origins here: