We hope that controlled shouting might encourage workshop participants to have some profound thoughts about themselves, life in general and the universe. 

Petri Sirviö, Director of Huutajat, Finland’s screaming men’s choir

Huutajat, Finland’s screaming men’s choir

What are the 10 Commandments of Huutajat, also known as Finland’s screaming men’s choir? 

According to Huutajat Director, Petri Sirviö, Huutajat is a choir that doesn't sing a note. Between 20 and 40 decently dressed men enter the venue in a paramilitary manner and begin to scream, bellow and shout excerpts from national anthems, children's ditties or international treaties. In July they’re coming to London for a special Nordic Matters workshop at Southbank Centre. 

  1. It’s taken us almost 30 years to perfect our screaming technique; we started in September 1987.
  2. Shouting and screaming isn’t a very good method for education; we need to remember that art and noise have different functions. 
  3. Londoners watching us in performance won’t learn much. But they may feel more relaxed and released. 
  4. We all know that London life is hectic, and there is often no space for thought or R&R. We hope that controlled shouting might encourage workshop participants to have some profound thoughts about themselves, life in general and the universe. 
  5. We have proven that a controlled, loud voice can be used to purge bad energies. 
  6. Participants of all ages and all backgrounds are welcome to join the shouting workshops; the broader the range the better the sound.
  7. It’s exhilarating when participants go a bit crazy; a recent highlight was hearing the punks from Oulu in Finland really go for it during a performance. 
  8. Sometimes things go wrong, but perhaps too seldom!  When a controlled and carefully trained piece collapses into a moment of uneasy silence it is always interesting.
  9. The choir has been strongly influenced by Britain’s parliamentary debates. Certain MPs and members of the House of Commons shout very well. But I won’t name names.
  10. It’s often asked if the choir like the sound that British football fan’s make. Well, we don’t like it that very much!
Discover traditional Sami shawl-making with Sami artist Outi Pieski, who transforms London's Royal Festival Hall foyers with her year-long installation, Falling Shawls. Image (C) Johnny Green.
Discover traditional Sami shawl-making with Sami artist Outi Pieski, who transforms London's Royal Festival Hall foyers with her year-long installation, Falling Shawls. Image (C) Johnny Green.
Explore the eccentric world of Moominland as part of the Nordic Matters festival at the Southbank Centre. Image: Moonmin Characters (TM).
Explore the eccentric world of Moominland as part of the Nordic Matters festival at the Southbank Centre. Image: Moonmin Characters (TM).

What is Nordic Matters?

Over the course of 2017, London’s Southbank Centre will be inviting audiences to look more closely at what’s happening in Nordic art and culture. The programme for Nordic Matters will embed Nordic culture and artists in London and other parts of the UK and provide a platform to some of the ‘hidden voices’ from Åland, the Faroe Islands and Greenland, as well as Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. This is the first time that Southbank Centre has programmed a year-long festival dedicated to one region of the world. It is expected that around a third of artists, authors and performers participating in events at Southbank Centre during 2017 will come from the Nordic region.

Below you can discover some of the artists and activities that form part of Nordic Matters festival.

Inspiring the work of Outi Pieski

Artist Outi Pieski lives and works in Utsjoki and Helsinki, the Sami area in Finland, close to where she was born. Her work embraces paintings, installations and colleges and often touches on Pieski’s personal feelings towards the landscape of the North. Pieski’s work combines duodji, handicrafts that unite function and art, and contemporary art. Her aim is to reopen conversations about the Sami people within Nordic discourse.

Since receiving her MFA from Helsinki’s Academy of Fine Arts, Department of Painting in 2002, Pieski has participated in many exhibitions across the northern hemisphere, from Finland to Canada. Her installation, ‘Falling Shawls’ is currently showing at London’s Southbank Centre until the end of the year as part of the ‘Nordic Matters’ festival. This includes 100 pieces and involved the hands of twelve other Sami women from across the Nordic region to help create the 35,000 tassels that the artwork required. 

Pieski’s current project is a joint venture with the archaeologist Eeva-Kristiina Harlin. This concentrates on the use and meaning behind the ‘ládjogahpir’, a horn hat that was once used by Sámi women in the nineteenth century before the onset of Lutheranism. One of these hats can be seen in the British Museum collection.

Outi Pieski on being inspired by Britain 

The poet and painter William Blake has been an inspiration for the work that I do. I saw Blake´s paintings and drawings in books and in the collection of the British Museum, and later read his poems and other works. But I also came across them in popular culture. William Blake affected me most deeply as a child, largely due to his connection to spirituality and his unique ability to understand but also show the depths of the human mind. I admire an artist who can work with so many art forms and therefore find a clearer mode of expression in their work.  It is interesting to see how his production from centuries ago continues to be relevant and arresting today. 


13th Jan 2017 – 31st Dec 2017 – VISUAL ARTS

View an installation of traditional Sami shawl-making, created by Sami artist Outi Pieski. Pieski transforms the Royal Festival Hall foyers with her year-long installation, Falling Shawls, which goes on show from the opening weekend of Nordic Matters.

Inspired by Britain: Magnus Lindberg, Finnish Composer

Described by The Times as ‘one of the major voices of 21st century composition’, Magnus Lindberg is one of the most talented European composers working today. He is particularly admired for his orchestral scores, such as Fresco for Orchestra (1997), Concerto for Orchestra (2002-3) and Two Episodes (2016), which was recently performed at Southbank Centre as part of Nordic Matters. His music is regularly played by the world's leading orchestras, including the London Sinfonetta, New York Philharmonic and Los Angeles Philharmonic. Those who have conducted his work include some of the greatest names of the century, not least Esa Pekka Salonen and Simon Rattle. This year Lindberg comes to the end of his tenure as Composer in Residence with the London Philharmonic. 

Lindberg spoke to the British Council from his home in Finland about how his career has been defined by an interest in, and inspiration from both Britain and his homeland.

How has working with the London Philharmonic inspired your music? 

I’ve enjoyed a wonderful three years with the London Philharmonic, which is an amazing orchestra. Being so close to the young musicians has been rewarding; a composer can spend a lot of time in solitude so getting to know the faces and the personalities of those who are playing your music makes a big difference to how one works. It’s definitely a two way relationship. I can now see how the music that I write is more easily played by the orchestra now. To start with I think that my style was rather difficult to understand, whereas today I find that the London-based musicians have definitely become more confident. This has helped to make me feel at ease in the city, so I suppose that I’ve come to see London and the orchestra as my home just as much as Helsinki. 

Would you say that your compositions have adopted a particular sound since being in Britain?

There is no doubt that different countries and nations produce different sounds, so travel is really important for my compositional development. Even though I am Finnish, and love and need the sound of the sea, the experience of being in a city like London, and a country like Britain, has impacted how my music is written and heard. I’m a believer in being in a place, physically alone, in order to be inspired by surrounding smells, noises, and images. But even before I became Resident Composer I was familiar with Britain, having first come over in the early 1990s when I became friendly with composers such as Colin Matthews, Julian Anderson and George Benjamin. The Finns can be exceptionally talented when it comes to music, but they can also be rather shy. This seems less so with the Brits, so being in Britain might have helped me be more outward looking. 

Where do you go in Britain for inspiration?

One experience that I will never forget was attending composition classes in Suffolk and living in Benjamin Britten’s Red House with Colin Matthews and Britten’s old housekeeper. This was before it became a museum and archive. It was as if the great master was looking down on us, particularly when, from time to time, we crept into his wine cellar to borrow a bottle of wine or two! The opportunity to live there and enjoy the coast really affected my personal and professional growth. In 2013 I was lucky enough to return to Suffolk and hear Peter Grimes performed on the beach. With the sound of the waters and the birds mixing with the music it really was an unforgettable experience.


16th Dec 2016 – 23rd April 2017 - IMMERSIVE ARTS

Climb into and get lost inside the eccentric world of Moominland this winter as Southbank Centre explore the internationally renowned Moomin stories through the life of its author, Tove Jansson.



What does nonsense mean in different Nordic cultures? This is a workshop all about nonsense verse with a focus on the meaning of it in different communities. This session is led by Icelandic author Þórarinn Eldjárn and Finnish illustrator Linda Bondestram.


Hear heavy metal played on cellos by Finnish quartet Apocalyptica. Since they first got together to play Metallica covers at Helsinki’s Sibelius Academy in 1993, these classically trained cellists have sold over four million albums.


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