Site of Pori Jazz Festival is now home to Finland's Largest Outdoor Music Park

The new inclusive Musiikkileikkipuisto Virtuoosi (Virtuoso Music Park) has been attracting visitors from near and far since opening in November and has even inspired professional musicians to write their own composition “as an inspiration to all novice percussionists and other rhythm musicians”

Only a few minutes' walk from the center of Pori (a large coastal city in Finland) is the Kirjurinluoto Park, an extremely popular outdoor space among people of all ages for its open spaces and recreation facilities and is a summer oasis for locals and tourists alike. Kirjurinluoto is a great location for running and swimming, has a popular disc golf course, barbeque area, a mini-golf course, and areas for playing pétanque. In the winter, the locals go to Kirjurinluoto Park for skiing and ice-skating.

Perhaps Kirjurinluoto is best known as the location of the hugely popular Pori Jazz Festival held every summer since 1966. Pori Jazz is one of the oldest and most significant jazz and rhythm music festivals in Europe and one of Finland’s biggest summer events, attracting international names in jazz, blues, funk, and Latin music.

Kirjurinluoto's play area, the Pelle Hermanni Park, is about three hectares in size, equivalent to almost five soccer fields, and was voted Finland’s best playground a few years back. It has a huge number of swings, climbing frames, and slides suitable for visitors of all ages. The diverse play selection of Kirjurinluoto was further supplemented last November with the introduction of the inclusive Virtuoso Music Park (Musiikkileikkipuisto Virtuoosi) named following a competition organized by the city, where the people of Pori were allowed to submit name suggestions.

”The name 'Virtuoosi' is positive and encouraging, and in an accessible playground everyone can feel like a master, a virtuoso,” said Pirjetta Sipiläinen-Salo, a member of the selection panel

“I thought of the name 'Virtuoosi' because it has a positive, musical vibe and the park is for everyone. Everyone's voice can be heard. In addition, the name has a suitable Jazz nuance to the history of Kirjurinluoto,” explains winner Minna Ruoho.

The City of Pori approached playground specialists and Percussion Play representatives Helsingin Pihaleikkiväline Oy to advise them on which outdoor musical instruments to include. The final selection included a varied selection of percussion instruments for the free use and enjoyment of park users, each producing different types of sounds and requiring different playing techniques; using the hands, mallets, and paddles.

The final selection included, Tubular Bells, Emperor Chimes, large Babel Drum, Rainbow Trio Metallophone, Blues Tembos, Trio of Djembes, Akadinda, Diatonic Symphony Freechimes, Tutti, Handpipes and Cajon Drum.

Make Way For The Professionals!

Both children and adults are encouraged to make use of Musiikkileikkipuisto Virtuoosi and as with all Percussion Play instruments, no previous musical knowledge or experience is required to be able to make some great music in the great outdoors. However, as you will see from the video below, the park has piqued the interest of some truly talented professionals and has even been the inspiration behind a new composition.

Percussionists from the Pori Sinfonietta and Palmgren Conservatory in Finland have created their own composition using the Percussion Play instruments and filmed this fantastic video which took over three hours to make in very icy conditions!

Mads Büchert and Toni Hietala clearly demonstrate how great the musical instruments in Musiikkileikkipuisto Virtuoosi sound - even covered in snow and in the depths of winter! They created the composition “as an inspiration to all novice percussionists and other rhythm musicians”

Büchert says the park is very familiar to the musicians because they both have children. They followed the progress of the music playground during the construction phase and couldn't wait to try the instruments out themselves.

"The quality of the instruments is really good. It seems like they will last a lot of years of heavy use by children, and still sound good." Büchert praises. He likes that the park has a variety of percussion instruments many of which are tuned to a pentatonic scale, making it easy for novice players to play simple, pleasing melodies. "Of course, they are not the instruments used in a symphony orchestra, but they are very good quality instruments," says Büchert.

The video you see was composed in layers. The musicians played the entire composition with each instrument from start to finish, and finally, the footage of the different instruments is cut and combined to make the video. For the composition, the musicians spent more than three hours in January outside playing the instruments in winter conditions around -10 degrees (centigrade). The surface of Marimba was even covered in ice, but it was still able to be played. Büchert from Denmark had never played outside in the middle of the snow before and for the first time in his life, he said he wore two hats on top of each other!

We love the video and thank them both for braving the cold to compose and film it to share with us. Bravo!

About Helsingin Pihaleikkiväline Oy

Helsingin Pihaleikkiväline Oy, founded in 1989 imports high-quality outdoor play and fitness equipment to furnish playgrounds in Finland. They were delighted to add Percussion Play outdoor musical instruments to their portfolio in 2015. The team at Helsingin Pihaleikkiväline Oy is headed up by Ari Hanski, Kari Nyyssönen, and Anssi Pynninen who between them all have a great deal of experience in both the play industry and the education market, as well as a keen interest in music!