Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Exclusive: Prog rock icon reveals his Sibelius roots

Jon Anderson, a founding member of Yes, one of the most central bands in progressive rock, was seen at the Sibelius Festival in Lahti, Finland, this year, night after night. He told me: ‘My beautiful wife had asked what I would like to have for my 70th birthday and I said: tickets to all of concerts of the Lahti Sibelius Festival, please.’

Jon had heard many Sibelius concerts from London to Paris and Los Angeles, but this was the first time he listened to Sibelius in Finland. ‘I had never witnessed such emotion from the stage and from the audience as here in Lahti,’ he told me. There were tears in his eyes when he listened to the first concert with the Helsinki Philharmonic and Leif Segerstam. ‘This Santa Claus -like conductor must be very famous here… Those hands, that emotion! I listened to that concert again from my iPad.’

After that he heard Sinfonia Lahti with Osmo Vänskä, BBC Symphony with Sakari Oramo and Okko Kamu, and Sinfonia Lahti with Jukka-Pekka Saraste and Okko Kamu. ‘Every night was the best’, he told me (40 % of the festival audience was from abroad, many from Britain, so the hotels, restaurants and Lahti’s few taxis will not complain).

With Jon it all started when Yes recorded their hit album ”Fragile” in 1971 and opened their concerts with Firebird’ by Stravinsky (But even before, Sibelius was part of The Beatles White Album in 1968; just listen to Revolution 9 at around 2.20. and for example at 5.50. and find that loop, from symphony no 7 just before it ends; Yoko Ono explained this to me in this interview). And The Nice with Keith Emerson recorded part of Karelia Suite in 1969.


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