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The Finnish Defence Forces

Press Release Conscript Band Celebrates its 30th Anniversary

Defence Command 1.3.2020 0.00
Press release

On 1 March 2020, it will be exactly 30 years since the Conscript Band’s first contingent entered into military service. But it was, in fact, 1987 that set in motion the establishment of the Conscript Band on the order of the Commander of the Finnish Defence Forces. To celebrate the Anniversary, the Conscript Band wishes to express its thanks to all the actors having been involved, the celebration leading up to a 30th Anniversary Concert Tour, heading, as always, towards new ambitious goals.

“Establish a Conscript Band”

Measures for establishing a conscript band started as early as 1987 on a clear order of the then Commander of the Finnish Defence Forces, General Jaakko Valtanen.  Establishing the Band was, however, a long process and a great decision involving many young musicians.

-In my capacity of Chief of the Information Section at the time, together with Chief Conductor Teuvo Laine,  I was invited to the office of General Valtanen who, at the end of the conversation we had, gave a short order:  “Establish a Conscript Band” This was probably in the autumn of 1987, General Olli Nepponen recalls. 
The Conscript Band was considered an important branch of training since it offered conscripts with musical education and good instrument playing skills an opportunity to do their military service in a way that made particular sense to them. Prior to this, musicians had been offered an opportunity to do part of their service as students in professional bands.

Following the Example of Other Nordic Countries

In the planning of the set up and activities of the Band, aspects, in particular, such as recruiting instructors, selecting musicians and their military service time came to the fore. Many practical issues, including funding, training plan, transfers of personnel, and facilities had to be considered as well. There was a great deal of work to be done, but we did not start from scratch, either.  
-Examples of foreign countries, mainly Sweden and Norway, were important starting points for Valtanen. A Tattoo project being set up in Hamina also gave an additional boost, Nepponen, Chief of the Information Section, recalls. 

The first Conscript Band contingent included about 40 men. The contingent entered into service in the Kymi Air Defence Regiment on 1 March and mustered out on 1 December. 
-Back then, there were no domestically developed and established standards for figure marching, so we started working on this new concept with no prior knowledge in the matter whatsoever. We watched a VHS video of the Swedish Arméns Musik Platon Band shows and this is how we decided to take on a not so difficult programme suitable for our skills, says Erkka Lehtihalme who served in the first contingent.

Hamina- Lahti- Parola

Haminan was selected as the base of the Conscript Band, but years later, it was transferred to Lahti.  As from the beginning of 2015, the Conscript Band set up its activities in a new brigade-level unit, the Armoured Brigade in Hattula. It had previously been based in the Häme Regiment which had been disbanded in the Defence Forces’ reform.   The Armoured Brigade has better prerequisites for the Band’s activities than it has ever had before- the new, versatile facilities and esteemed personnel will vouch for the Band’s splendid performance today and in the decades to come. 
  
Currently, Captain (Mus.) Ville Paakkunainen serves as the Conscript Band’s Senior Conductor and First Lieutenant (Mus.) Juhani Valtasalmi as its Conductor.  About ten staff members are involved in the activities.  The Conscript Band’s versatility, its young musicians’ skills and over 200 performances a year is something that no other set up can measure up to. 
In August, the Conscript Band’s 30th Anniversary Concert Tour will captivate Finnish hearts with its programme full of energy, including a selection of music from the most thrilling moments.

“The activities of the Conscript Band is a part of the Finnish Defence Forces’ contribution to Finland’s national culture. For aspiring professional musicians, service in the Conscript Band is a merit.” 
-Admiral Jan Kleberg 1993

Information about all the Anniversary Concerts are available at  
The Finnish Military Bands’ Concert Calendar / The Conscript Band of the Finnish Defence Forces