Jan Coninx, former EMJ-president (2000-2012) was invited to visit a renowned festival for choirs and vocal ensembles in Tampere (Finland) where he intended to acquire and exchange experiences as part of a visiting group of the choral Festival Network (CFN).
CFN unites international festivals that guarantee a high level of musicality and organization. Festival delegates regularly visit each other's festivals in order to introduce themselves elaborately. So EMJ recently was the guest of the "Tampereen SÄvel".
Jan Coninx says: "The festival in Tampere is organized by professional musicians, unlike EMJ where volunteers are the ones who organize our festival though all of them are quite keen on music as such. Thus EMJ manages to organize an important and internationally esteemed festival year after year."
" Moreover the Tampere festival is sponsored by the authorities: 70 % by the town of Tampere and 30 % by other authorities. EMJ on the contrary gets financial support from various authorities, but also from companies, traders, banks and private peoples without whose backing EMJ would not exist. Finland must have more money available for culture than Belgium has."
The "Tampereen Sävel" calls itself "international" while 90 % of the 75 participating choirs and vocal ensembles were Finnish. The remaining 10 % of participants came from Austria, Lithuania, Esthonia and Slowakia. The organizers wish to revive the Finns' enthusiasm to sing again in an international atmosphere. EMJ works in a different way. In Neerpelt participants from over 25 European and non-European countries gather to discover and appreciate each other's music and culture. And moreover EMJ exports Flemish music to all continents and imports international music to Belgium.
"It was not the highlight of my experiences, but the "Tampereen Sävel"-T shirts were a super idea. On the back of them were all the names of the participating groups, no less than a collector's item to all participants and guests", Jan Coninx concludes.