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introKallio Church, Helsinki, Finland
22nd December 2015
Tarja Turunen

Tarja Turunen is somewhat of a legend. While other big names prefer to stick to one genre, she splits her time between classic performances and rock gigs. While she is Finnish, her time is mostly spent in the world touring, and again, her concerts might turn up not on clubs or arenas, but in churches. Sometimes in not so large cities. While you can expect that any other musician always includes Helsinki in the route, it is absolutely not certain for Tarja, so I was excited to see her concert listed in the capital of Finland this time. Tarja did her "Ave Maria - En Plein Air" album this year with track list simple enough - thirteen different Ave Maria versions including her own one. It is also a tradition for Tarja to put aside rock gigs in Christmas time and do a classical tour. Interestingly, all her rock fans would show up on these gigs as well and they happen sometimes in the same rock venues. http://www.tarjaturunen.com / https://www.facebook.com/tarjaofficial 

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Music & Performance
Kallio Church, chosen for the concert, is a magnificent, tall building erected in Art Nouveau era and one of the capital's dominant landmarks. It is very tall inside and has pretty ornaments and chandeliers. The church was filled with smoke and about fifteen robotic concert lights were installed around the front part of the church. As the concert began, most ambient lights went off and the stage lights started to pierce the church air with coloured beams, forming nets and projecting light ornaments on the walls. Tarja was wearing a white designer dress, that looks like some kind of wave. The concert was accompanied by Max Lilja on cello, Mevi Myllyoja on viola and Janne Hovi on piano. While the pianist was extremely classic and proper, behaving in articulated formal way, the cellist was much more relaxed and enjoying himself. No wonder - Max is in fact a seasoned rocker, who used to play in APOCALYPTICA till 2002, is currently a member of HEVEIN and worked also with CRADLE OF FILTH and STRATOVARIUS.

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The moment Tarja started to sing, it became obvious that it will be one spectacular event. The opera singer's voice simply surpasses any other type of vocal there is. It is probably not worth describing as words cannot exactly transmit the feeling of deep and powerful singing filling the church air. Ave Marias from the latest programme went one after another, intermitted by orchestral pieces and other classic Finnish Christmas-themed songs. A NIGHTWISH heritage, ‘Walking in the Air’ (by H.Blake), was performed by the end of the concert. Strangely though, there were no encores despite the organizers said there will be. An audience was exiting, too. An old lady, holding a vinyl of Tarja, asked me how the pictures turned out. I almost thought she was after the opera program, but she just said that she is a huge fan of old NIGHTWISH and has all the CDs. Then this lady, seemingly in her 70ties, put out a baseball cap (it is just -1 outside, so wearing this much is seemingly enough for Finns) and asked some guy next to her, whom she met before concert, if he got a Facebook account. He said yes, and she readily brought about a smartphone. Maybe I should have add her to Facebook as well...

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There were concerts when Tarja seemed absorbed by the singing, and felt distant. Not this time: she was smiling, in very good mood and very open. The only minor drawback of a concert that I can tell you about is that, as a classical concert, it lacked a rhythm and structure of an orchestrated program. All Ave Marias are nearly the same, calm tempo, as many of Christmas songs. So after some time you also become very relaxed. A little bit of fast and energetic songs might add some more to the experience. Which, however, was excellent in any sense anyway.

Rating
Music: 9
Performance: 10
Sound: 10
Light: 10
Total: 9.75 / 10

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All pictures by Askar Ibragimov


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