Through the Academy to the big stage

Kuopio-based band Fourth Halo is making some final touches to the songs in their band room. An exciting moment is approaching when the group gets to perform in Väinölänniemi Beach, on Kuopiorock festival’s Väinö stage on Friday 29.7.2022.

"It's a bit exciting, but in a good way! This is the biggest event our band has ever been able to perform at," says the band's bassist Simeoni Julkunen excitedly.

A great festival gig for the band is made possible by Kuopio Rock Academy, which is a kind of youth work that supports young people’s musical activities. With the help of the Rock Academy, the young musicians can develop even to the point of becoming professional musicians. Through the Academy, young bands receive guidance in every possible way - from the intricacies of music business to music lessons and from learning to market their own skills to employment.

"Rock Academy strives to hone a diamond from raw metal within the band's resources, and helps to seek the band’s own style, both musically and visually," says Sakari Hietala, the youth worker responsible for Kuopio Rock Academy's activities and rock veteran himself.

Youth worker responsible for Kuopio Rock Academy's activities, Mr. Sakari Hietala

Bands get the opportunity to gig, make recordings, and music videos. The goal of every band or artist, in two-year period, is to produce at least one professional-quality recording and a video for it. The activities are free of charge for the bands. Despite its name, Rock Academy is intended for bands of any musical genre, whose members are under the age of 29.

"In Kuopio, the Rock Academy project started at full capacity at the beginning of 2019, first with funding from the Ministry of Education and Culture and now as part of the city of Kuopio's Youth Services. There are currently eight bands involved in the Academy's activities, half of which are participating in the actual coaching and half have already completed their two-year period. However, the Academy does not leave any band on its own, and the support will continue for years to come. ”That's why, for example, all eight bands will perform at Kuopiorock this weekend," says Hietala.

The bands have been selected for coaching through live recordings, interviews, and auditions.

"Fourth Halo got involved in Rock Academy activities in early 2022. Thanks to the Academy, we have gained opportunities to perform, work in the studio and even take promo photos. The Academy also organizes "clinics", where experienced musicians give tips to beginners. And one example of Rock Academy's help is, of course, this gig – we get the opportunity to play for people who might not otherwise hear our music," Julkunen rejoices.

Fourth Halo. Picture by Marc Sabat. 

The cooperation with Kuopio Rock began immediately after the Academy started in the spring of 2019. Due to the pandemic, the first Kuopio Rock Academy bands were able to perform on Väinö stage last summer.

"If you want to hear new talents from Kuopio and support our future rock stars, come and listen to them at Väinö Stage from Thursday to Saturday," Hietala encourages.

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