The Academic Male Voice Choir of Helsinki
The Academic Male Voice Choir of Helsinki – Akademiska Sångföreningen or Akademen in Swedish – is a Fennoswedish (i.e. Swedish-speaking) male voice student choir based in the Finnish capital of Helsinki. We believe that ambitious musical development can go hand-in-hand with tradition, and work enthusiastically to keep alive the dialogue between past and present.
In 2018 we're turning 180 years old, and would love for you to join in the festivities! If there's any information you can't find in English, or if you have other questions, do contact us by e-mail (look down and to the right!), using this form, or by messaging us on Facebook. Whether it's about hearing us live, joining the choir, or doing a project with us, we'll get back to you as soon as we can!
Who we are
FROM THE PRESS? See our press page for print-ready pictures!
The Academic Male Voice Choir of Helsinki
The Academic Male Voice Choir of Helsinki—Akademiska Sångföreningenor Akademen in Swedish—is a Fennoswedish (i.e. Swedish-speaking) male voice student choir based in the Finnish capital of Helsinki.
The choir was founded in 1838 by German-born Fredrik Pacius, music teacher at the Imperial Alexander University of Finland (today the University of Helsinki) and known as ‘the father of Finnish music.’ Akademen is thus the oldest extant Finnish choir, and the ties to the University are still important, although our members today hail from many different universities and colleges all around Helsinki.
At present, Akademen has around 60 active singers, most of whom are university students. However, quite a few choose to stay in the active choir long after graduation, which makes for a healthy mix of youth and experience. We give concerts regularly in Finland, and travel abroad as frequently as possible. In addition to all the Scandinavian and most European countries, Akademen has been on tour in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United States, Hong Kong, the Philippines, and Singapore.
Ever since 1954, we have actively and regularly been collaborating with our University of Helsinki sister choir, The Academic Female Voice Choir Lyran.
After its founding in 1838, Akademen (or Akademiska Sångsällskapet as the choir’s earliest incarnation was called) became an important symbol of national awakening in the emerging Finnish nation. In 1848, the choir performed Pacius’ composition Vårt land (words by J. L. Runeberg) for the first time ever during the students’ Flora Day spring celebrations; the composition was later to become the national anthem of the independent Finland.
In 1883, Finnish-speaking members of the then-bilingual choir opted to establish a Finnish-language choir of their own—the YL Male Voice Choir, today one of Akademen’s brother choirs in Helsinki.
The 20th century saw several prominent conductors in charge of Akademen. Among these were famous composers Bengt Carlson, Nils-Eric Fougstedt and Erik Bergman. Present conductor Dr Kari Turunen (Mus.D.) has directed the choir since 2008, following Henrik Wikström’s eleven-year tenure as conductor.
Conductor kari turunen
Kari Turunen is a Finnish free lance choral conductor and ensemble singer. He is the artistic director of five ensembles: the male chorus Akademiska Sångföreningen (since 2008); Kampin Laulu chamber choir (2011–); the choir of the cantors of the Finnish Lutheran Church, Chorus Cantorum Finlandiae (2011–); the all-male Ensemble Petraloysio (2011–); and Spira Ensemble (2012–). He has won numerous prizes at national and international festivals with his groups. Kari Turunen was named choral conductor of the year in Finland in 2008.
Kari Turunen was educated at the University of Helsinki and the Sibelius Academy. He has a master’s degree in choral conducting and a doctorate in early music performance practice from the University of the Arts, Helsinki. He tries to balance scholarly activities with his artistic work and firmly believes that scholarship and performance can greatly benefit each other.
In addition to his work with his regular ensembles, Kari Turunen is a sought-after guest conductor, adjudicator, clinician and teacher of choral conducting, both in Finland and abroad. He has also acted as the chairman of the Finnish Choral Directors’ Association from the mid-90’s and is the artistic director of Aurore, an annual Renaissance music festival in Helsinki.
Before becoming a full-time conductor, Dr. Turunen taught choral conducting and was the head of choral activities at the School of Music of the Polytechnic University of Tampere from 2001 to 2011. He is also a founding member of Lumen Valo, a professional vocal ensemble of eight voices. Lumen Valo has been a driving force on the early music scene in Finland since its conception in 1993 and has made a name for itself in almost 250 concerts around Finland and Europe. The group has recorded nine CD’s, all of them critically acclaimed for their fresh programming and quality of singing.
An ageing, but still enthusiastic sportsman, Kari Turunen devotes time especially to playing cricket. A survivor of several marathons, he has also played cricket for his country, captaining the Finnish national team in 2003–2004. His passions outside family, work and sports include reading fiction, sweating on Sudoku puzzles, traveling, walks with his Parson-Russel terrier and creative procrastination.