SILTAVAHTI

Guardian of the Bridge

 

Siltavahti Suomeksi

 

During Sibelius Week 2010, now known as the Helsinki Festival, representative members of the Finnish Male Chorus of New York (New Yorkin Laulumiehet) and their families gathered at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki to present the institution with the celebrated composer's original handwritten composition Siltavahti.

  

This work, written in 1928 specifically as the signature anthem (lippulaulu) of the New Yorkin Laulumiehet (NYL), has been performed by numerous individuals and choirs, including the North American Male Singers (Amerikan Laulajat), and is the Song for the People of Uusimaa (Uusmaalaisten laulu).

 

Lyrics for Siltavahti are from a poem by Wäinö Sola, an opera singer, music arranger, and teacher at the Helsinki Conservatory (Sibelius Academy).

 

 In January 1928 Wäinö Sola delivered his text to his close friend Jean Sibelius, and by that fall the composition was completed.  Mr. Sola presented this new work to the NYL on October 8, 1928, along with an autographed photo of Sibelius.

 

The Finnish Male Chorus of New York, under the guidance of such talented leaders as Jussi Himanka,Yrjö Sjöblom, Jallu Honkonen, and Eino Railimo, enjoyed a musically rich, well received existence from it's inception in 1920 until it's dissolution meeting in 1986.  Janne (Jean) Pellinen, the organization's last artistic director, was elected permanent curator of the choir's residual assets.  Included in this collection was Jean Sibelius' Siltavahti.

 

 

The remaining New York choir members have long pondered finding a fitting home for this valuable manuscript.  Sale of the item had once been considered, with proceeds to be used to finance a proposed 2006 Amerikan Laulajat concert tour.  Eventually, it was agreed that Siltavahti should remain with an organization that best preserved and showcased the composer's work.  A suggestion to bequeath the document to the Helsinki Sibelius Academy was unanimously accepted.  With the aid of Lake Worth, Florida Lutheran Pastor Seppo Hartikainen, arrangements with the Academy, an institution where he had studied, were prepared.

 

On August 25, 2010, the donation of Siltavahti occurred.  In a ceremony held at the Academy, Janne Pellinen and past chairman of the NYL, Harry Manner, delivered the document and transferred ownership to Irmeli Koskimies, the institute's Archivist.  Attendees at the event included Uolevi Lassander, past director of the Finnish Male Choir Association (Mieskuoroliitto); Antti Valikangas, producer of the Finnish Expatriate's Story (Ulkosuomalaisen Tarina), a historic TV series; and numerous family members and friends.  Ms. Koskimies stated that Siltavahti was now the most valued piece in their collection of Sibelius' original works.

 

 

Additional NYL information may be viewed in amerikanlaulajat.com, and the donation ceremony is displayed on YouTube as Siltavahti presentation.

 

New Yorkin Laulumiehet