Last Saturday, the 2015 Chelsea Music Festival, now in its sixth season, concluded eight days of events Chelsea‘s German Evangelical Lutheran Church of St. Paul with a jazz trio performance by one of the Festival’s renowned musicians. The event, called the “Jazz FINNale,” included a small reception with a tasting menu curated by Finnish chef Sami Talberg, was the last in a series of performances, tastings, art exhibitions, and discussions centered around the Chelsea Music Festival’s theme of Finnish and Hungarian culture.
St. Paul’s Church is the last remaining German-speaking church in the area, built in 1897 to accommodate a large congregation of German Lutherans who split from the nearby St. Matthew’s Church when services became overcrowded. It has held services ever since, but was transformed on Saturday into a concert hall like you’ve never seen.
Saturday’s Jazz concert, featuring a trio headed by Finnish pianist Tuomo Uusitalo, was the second of two events hosted by St. Pauls, the first being an a cappella performance by the European Tapiola Choir of several lesser known Finnish choral pieces by composer Jean Sibelius. Sibelius, largely considered the greatest Finnish composer in history and a unifier of the country’s national identity through music, was showcased heavily in most of the Chelsea Music Festival’s events and concerts.
In addition to the concert, St.Paul’s was adorned with several tapestries by the festival’s artist in residence, Heidi Hankaniemi. Hankaniemi joined fellow artist Rachel Mica Weiss, a Brooklyn-based installation artist who designed a piece for the festival’s opening gala last week at the Starrett-Lehigh Building.
Weiss’s custom installation at the Starrett-Lehigh Building
The Chelsea Music Festival won’t be back till next summer, but reported the biggest turnout in its history this year, with several sold out events. Given buzz it’s been generating around town, there’s no surprise in its evolution from an up and coming festival to a staple of the neighborhood summer.