Russia’s Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra under conductor Valery Gergiev will open Turku Music Festival in Finland. The Orchestra’s performance will be devoted to fraternal relations between Turku and St. Petersburg that will mark 60 years in 2013. The festival’s organizers said the program of the opening concert includes The Swan of Tuonela, an 1895 tone poem by Finnish composer Jean Sibelius, Rodion Shchedrin’s Piano Concerto Nr. 4 that will be accompanied by Finnish pianist Olli Mustonen and Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s Symphony Nr. 6 “Pathetique.” On Tuesday the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra will play a concert in two parts in dedication to 200 years of two outstanding composers Giuseppe Verdi and Richard Wagner. Valery Gergiev’s spokespersons said the orchestra will perform Verdi’s The Force of Destiny, Aida and La Traviata and Wagner’s Lohengrin. The audience will be able to hear the Mariinsky Theatre’s soloists Yevgeny Nikitin, Alexei Markov and Larisa Gogolevskaya. “The audience met the festival’s program with huge enthusiasm, 50 percent of tickets were snatched up as soon as they came on sale,” the festival’s executive director, Liisa Ketomaki, said. This year’s festival will end on August 17. Turku’s main concert scenes will also see Venice’s Il Pomo d’Oro baroque orchestra that will play baroque arias. Akseli, a new monologue opera by composer Kimmo Hakola, will be performed by Avanti! chamber orchestra in collaboration with the Finnish Chamber Opera/ Helsinki City-opera. One of world’s top sopranos, French Natalie Dessay, will make her Finnish debut. Dessay will share the stage with mezzo-soprano Virpi Raisanen, the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Helsinki Music Centre Choir, conducted by Hannu Lintu. Finland’s first Turku Music Festival took place in 1960 and for many years it has been serving as a music platform for world stars. Traditionally, its program includes concerts by symphonic orchestras, chamber and solo performances and open airs. The Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra under Valery Gergiev performed in Turku in 2004, 2009 and 2011. Turku and St. Petersburg are twin cities since 1953. They have been actively cooperating in environmental protection, education, culture, youth policy and entrepreneurship.