The year began with a talk by Mark Powell on ”The Enduring Tradition of Wooden Architecture in Finland” which encompassed some of the oldest surviving buildings such as the church at Sodankylä built at the end of the seventeenth century to Olavi Koponen’s Spiral House (Villa Kotilo) built a few years ago in Espoo. His talk was illustrated his own watercolours and drawings.
In February Edward Clark, President of the UK Sibelius Society, posed the question ”Was Sibelius a Nationalist or a European Composer?” and came to the conclusion that whilst there are elements in his music which are essentially Finnish, his music transcends mere nationalism and that he belongs properly to the premier league of European composers.
Our AGM was scheduled to have been held on 17th March at the Ambassador’s Residence but had to be cancelled because of restrictions imposed to prevent the spread of Covid-19 through social gatherings. Instead the reports and accounts for the year 2019 were circulated to members by email or post and they were asked to deal with the votes and resolutions of the AGM business by way of postal ballots. The accounts and reports were duly approved by what would have been a quorum at a physical meeting and Hely Abbondati and Clive Suckling were elected to the Council, having previously been co-opted.
The proposed private tour of the Freemasons’ Hall in April and a recital of music by Sibelius at Burgh House in May, for which the Society had made a block booking, were both cancelled as the country remained in lockdown.
When restrictions were eased we canvassed members as to whether they would be interested in taking part in an outdoor event (in respect of which restrictions had then been somewhat eased) or whether they would be interested in events held online. The conclusion was that there was no appetite for outdoor events, especially if they would involve a journey on public transport but many of those who responded had already had some experience of meetings held online.