When Karl Collan composed Sylvian joululaulu, a traditional Finnish Christmas song, he was blissfully unaware that one of the concert halls at the Iisalmi Cultural Centre would be named after him. This acoustically outstanding hall, designed to host classical music concerts, has served as a venue for dozens of concerts. Savolaisten laulu, a regional anthem composed by Collan, has also been sung in this hall countless times. Little did Collan know that this hall would serve as an inspiration for young local music students nearly two hundred years later.

“Iisalmi provides a wonderful setting for anyone interested in music and culture,” says Meri Kettunen, currently a music student in Tampere.

According to Kettunen, who studied music at the Ylä-Savo Music Institute, there is such a wealth of leisure activities available for young people in Iisalmi that everyone can easily find something they like. The Ylä-Savo Music Institute is a case in point. “Wonderful teachers, great projects and events, and excellent facilities inspired me to pursue music first as a hobby and later as a career.” If he were here, in this room named after him, listening to the beautiful sounds emerging from Meri Kettunen’s violin, Collan would smile approvingly. In Iisalmi, art is seamlessly passed on from one generation to the next.

Meri Kettunen will certainly not be the last Iisalmi-born musician to succeed in the music business. Iisalmi has raised several leading Finnish classical music and popular music artists, not to mention skilled jazz musicians who come to Iisalmi to play in concerts all year round.