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Finland Mini-Reunion, July 6-18, 2017
Our wonderful Finland mini-reunion was organized by our Finnish classmate, Laura Finne-Elonen, with Mary Lee Warren providing stateside assistance.Nancy Goff arranged for operas, musical events and hotel in Savonlinna.
Laura Finne was with us as an exchange student at MHCin 1963-64. She is a physician, an elected official, worker for women's rights, and a lover of music, art and architecture. Laura organizeda two-week fabulous exploration of things Finnish, and those of us who participated came away with a great love and appreciation for Finland and the Finnish people.
Most of us gathered in Helsinki on July 6, and the following day took the train to Savonlinna, in south eastern Finland, where we attended the world-class opera festival held in the medieval Olavinlinna Castle. On July 11 we took the train back to Helsinki, our base for an exploration of the city and its surroundings. It's their centennial year -in 1917 Finland achieved its independence from Russia.
We investigated Finnish architecture and design, and visited the homes/studios of the grand masters Alvar Aalto, and of Eliel and Eero Saarinen. We were briefed on the Health and on the Political systems. Below : two vignettes from a synopsis of the trip.
Savonlinna; Olavinlinna Castle [written by Ellen Nutter] was built in the 15th century. Three of our four concerts were performed in the courtyard: Rigoletto, the world premiere of Aulis Sallinen's Castle in the Water; and Kullervo (also by Sallinen) based on the Kaleva, the Finnish national epic. The Male Voice Choir concert was held at Kerimaki Church, the largest wooden church in the world, built in 1848.
Sibelius Monument (written by Sue Gaumer) ... heard three young women singing the tune at his remarkable memorial. Finlandia is a majestic piece of music not usually performed by three small voices, but I was glad they were there singing away. Then I saw the pipes! I recall Laura telling us that the design, done by a woman, was at first refused, but then reconsidered and constructed. I loved it and loved watching members of our group scurry all over the mound upon which it sits and then try putting their heads in the pipes.
We had 27 participants. In addition to Laura, her husband Erkki and special guest grandson Axel, these included:
Lily Klebanoff Blake
Barbara Field Collins and Don
Edie Prentice Mendez
Jane Crombie Michel and Jacques
Pat Slodden Fleischauer
Sarah Allen Mowitt
Susan Salot Gaumer
Barbara Scott Nelson
Nancy Chambers Goff and Bob
Ellen Manfredonia Nutter and Dave
Gail Simons Humphreys and Steve
Mary Lee Warren
Priscilla Morse Huston
Anita Corman Weinblatt and Herb
Wendy Lycan Jackson
Lenore Wadzinski Yousef