It was a cold and grey Saturday but Miss Mo and I were enveloped by the warm and cosy atmosphere of Lohja's Old Time Christmas Fair. Lohja's Old Time Christmas Fair is Finland’s largest two day Christmas fair and attracts almost 250 vendors and 30000 visitors each year. I am not surprised as I was very impressed by all the handmade products on offer. It ranged from handmade pottery to handmade Christmas wreaths to wood smoked salmon to fabric toilet roll holders.
Whilst the Christmas Fair was in full swing, the visitors got a surprise in the form of an impromptu performance by opera singer, Heikki Orama, who is Lohja City's and Tenor Days' artist of 2014. Heikki will be displaying his vocal talent at the Tenor Days in August 2014, but until then he is Tenor Days' official pop up artist and can display his opera skills at events and special locations. He can pop up anywhere at any time and give a splendid performance without any prior announcement and free of charge. Fun!
We wanted to know more about Heikki Orama and his love for opera. Heikki told us that his love for singing first showed at age 3-4 when he sang to family members, neighbours and guests at their home. In 1962, at age 9, he joined the boys' choir 'Cantores Minores' at Helsinki Cathedral where he got his first musical education after which it was easy for him to continue his vocal studies at the renowned Sibelius Academy. After graduating from the Sibelius Academy Heikki got an engagement at the Finnish National Opera.
Heikki's musical talent did not go unnoticed abroad and Heikki decided to move to Germany where he sang in different opera houses for over 10 years. He then got homesick and moved back to Finland and since then he has been a freelance singer in Finland and other countries. He is also a church musician in Lohja, especially in Karjalohja and Sammatti, which includes tasks such as organising musical life and arranging concerts in both churches.
Heikki admires several singers one of them being a Finnish bass, Kim Borg, who had an international career in the fifties and sixties. Kim spent the rest of his life in Copenhagen as a singing professor. After Heikki's studies at the Sibelius Academy he studied with Kim Borg for some time and Heikki debuted several songs Kim Borg had composed. Heikki told us that Martti Talvela was a big hero of his as he was an energetic artist and devoted his whole life to music. Martti was an idol to every bass singer. Other idols include Heikki's personal friends, Matti Salminen and Jaakko Ryhänen, with both of whom he has sung together. Heikki wishes both Matti and Jaakko all the best and he especially wants to wish Jaakko a Merry Christmas as Jaakko has experienced some health problems in the past year.
Heikki believes music knows no boundaries. He has performed in many countries including Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Belgium, Japan, USA and Australia. Heikki thinks that the language of music is an international one which people from different countries have in common and which everyone understands. We couldn't agree more so we accompanied Heikki to the library where he gave another impromptu performance which was warmly received by the public.
Watch the video of Heikki Orama's impromptu performance at Lohja's Old Time Christmas Fair.
After enjoying Heikki's performances Miss Mo and I explored the many goods Lohja's Old Time Christmas Fair has to offer. One of my favourite stands was that of 'Uusi Tarina'. The vendor was a young woman who had made beautiful boxes for storing keys and jewelry using wooden boxes and covering them with old book covers. I love the idea as it is so unique and the book covers are all originals some dating back as far as 1913. Another favourite were the stands selling gingerbread houses. For me the handmade items are what makes the Christmas Fair so special. I am not handy or crafty at all and I really admire people who are and am often amazed and awestruck by people's creations. I will definitely check Lohja's Old Time Christmas Fair again next year. Hope to see you there!
We were keen on finding out what foreigners think of Lohja's Old Time Christmas Fair. When we heard a man speak English we quickly asked him where he is from and what he thinks of the Christmas Fair. His name was Pontus and he came all the way from..Stockholm. Stockholm is not exactly Tahiti and Pontus has been living in Virkkala for the past three years, but we asked him what he thought of the Christmas Fair. It was his second visit to the Christmas Fair and he really liked it.
*This post is in cooperation with Lohja City*
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