It takes some courage for innovation.

A great thing about working in the event world is that at some point you can sneak in, become an event participant and grasp some benefits that a customer often has. My latest event was the Open Innovation 2.0 Conference 2015, co-organised by EU Open Innovation Strategy and Policy Group, Intel Labs Europe, Aalto University and City of Espoo. Even though it was a free event, what it offered was beyond that. Two days volunteering at the conference has allowed me to get for myself a handful of new knowledge, considering that my world is just as big as a well. Vague as it first sounded to me, the concept of Open Innovation 2.0 later revealed that everyone, whether or not present in the conference, is all sharing weight to the discussed matters. In other words, a new approach is involving all four groups of stakeholders in the innovation process, including Government, Academia, Business and Citizen, who together form an Open Innovation Quadruple Helix. Continue reading


[Video] The Grand Budapest Hotel: The Old World repainted

It’s been quite fascinating to see how artistic elements are applied in such a business-like environment as Haaga-Helia Porvoo Campus. You can learn to make certain gestures and to control the space around you in order to be an effective public speaker in the course Business Ballet. Likewise, Cultural Contacts takes you to the world of English literature and arts to find the true essence of English language, thus motivating you to produce elegant English texts.

I had the pleasure to take the latter this semester and because it’s something different than the other courses at school, I’ve rarely felt fed up. Every class I went to was like a virtual tour back in time. And as we were supervised by the same teacher in Business Ballet, Pia Kiviaho-Kallio, we also had a chance to practice our presentation skills.

The video you’re about to watch was originally my assignment for the course. We had to make a presentation about any topic related to culture or arts (writer, musician, architect, visual artist, actor, director etc.) using Pecha Kucha method. It’s a presentation style that contains only pictures and the slides automatically change every 20 seconds. A Pecha Kucha presentation usually contains 20 slides, hence the alternative name 20×20. But in our assignment we can choose between 10 and 20 slides.

My presentation originally included 16 slides and as I couldn’t keep my nerve, I messed up several times on the “stage”. But afterward, I made some changes and now I’ve got a full Pecha Kucha presentation with 20 slides. This is the audio recording to my Pecha Kucha PowerPoint slides.

My Pecha Kucha Presentation

The presentation was about some historical and aesthetic elements in the 2014 movie The Grand Budapest Hotel. The audio you’re hearing is the n-th effort I took because there was always something wrong with either the pronunciation or the timing. It’s certainly at least five times more challenging when it comes to real presentation. But it’s an interesting experience, because you really need to focus on the rhythm of your talk, the flow of the visual aids as well as how to link two consecutive slides. I think as soon as you master Pecha Kucha, you’ll be one step closer to being a good presenter.

I hope you enjoy the topic I talked about. For those who have watched The Grand Budapest, how did you like the visuals in the movie? Was there something else I didn’t manage to mention? Please leave a comment, I’d love to hear your opinion!


The unusual New Year’s Eve

The tactful observers call it “Lunar New Year”, many call it “Chinese New Year”. I have no intention of defending the fellow Asian countries who have their own celebration. I even feel like thanking the Chinese communities worldwide for having let the world know the existence of this unique occasion. Nevertheless, I still prefer calling it in the most Vietnamese way – “Tết“.

That said, my celebration this year was a literal “Chinese New Year”. I spent my Lunar New Year’s Eve on February 18 at Latsipalatsi Square, Helsinki where the Chinese New Year Festival took place. And I’m grateful to have been there. It was something intimate yet so different. I experienced quite a few things that I never did on New Year’s Eve, one of which was perhaps my first direct contact with Chinese culture.


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Lonely Together – “Not just a social art project”

We performed together for the first time at Wayne’s Coffee Forum one week after we first met. Months later music brought us together again. But this time it was something way more different.

We met at Cultural Centre Caisa last Friday when I agreed to be one of the volunteers for her social art experiment Lonely Together. She asked me some questions about music then I was left alone in the room when her song “Teardrops in the rain” was on. I heard other people from different cultural backgrounds have also participated. I didn’t really think about this before they started filming but afterward, I couldn’t help wondering what others have shared and how differently they’ve felt.

She’s Katrin Johansson, a young musician from Helsinki. After my filming session, out of curiosity, I went to her for an interview. Much as I’m looking forward to the release of the final results, I’m also eager to share our talk. Let’s hear her stories.

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The 12 songs of Christmas

Merry Christmas peopleeeee :D.

I hope you had a joyful Christmas Eve. I hope mine was good too, considering being invited over for the stewed whitefish, joining the host’s and his flatmate’s conversation on foreign students’ possible crises in Finland and Harry Potter characters and stuff, then having past stories of Central Europe mashed up and retold through Concierge Monsieur Gustave H’s and Lobby Boy Zero Moustafa’s adventures inside and outside The Grand Budapest Hotel; and assuming I hadn’t arrived at the grocery store 4 hours after its holiday closing time and hadn’t failed to reach the centre midway for the Christmas celebration due to too hard snow and a too empty stomach. Anyhow, having good company and watching good movies always top my favourite things regardless of any season. I couldn’t ask for more.

But I guess I could still somehow get mentally festive by the ubiquitous tool – music. I bet you’ve heard Christmas songs everywhere for the past month. During this season, there are certain songs I want to hear, but very few of them are played in public places, so I thought I’d entertain myself by bringing up some of them here.

In celebration of Christmas and New Year, here are 12 of my favourite Christmas tunes. May you be entertained as well. ;)

1. The 12 Days of Christmas – Carrie Fletcher

As you may or may not have deduced, my choice of how many songs to show is actually influenced by this Christmas Carol. According to the tradition, the twelve days of Christmas starts on 25th of December Continue reading

Porvoo Campus’ Chamber of Art

I always fall for places that not many people know of, where I can play hide and seek with my own existence anytime. And it felt so great to discover one at school, at this specific Porvoo Campus where almost every wall is transparent. Of course this “no door” concept makes co-operation in studying and working more convenient because most of the time everyone can find anyone from anywhere without calling or texing. But not when you are in desperate need of privacy, and probably not either when you need privacy for other purposes than studying. I love the fact that there is finally room for real hobbies at the campus. I know I would spoil such a sanctum if I keep bragging about it, but people will know about it anyway, so I should stop bothering. =]


It’s only one floor under the marvelous lobby. Having been here for more than a year but I didn’t know about the existence of this basement until the start of my second year. Basements always sound mysteriously cool right? This one reminds me of Continue reading

On the sunny side of the street

Title inspiration: On the sunny side of the street – Ella Fitzgerald ft. Count Basie

As autumn is doing its final parting, I’m trying to be mentally prepared for winter rain and snow as toughly as I can, because it would take tons of courage to get out of the house in such weather. On a different note, the chill makes me reminisce the saxophonic cosiness of September in Culture House Grand, located right in the centre of Porvoo. And what shaped the memories was the three-day concert Porvoo Jazz Festival 2014 (PJF14) (September 11 – September 13, 2014).

To be honest, I was not a huge fan of jazz. Much as I enjoyed volunteering, I was craving for opportunities right in Porvoo instead of Helsinki, in which there are plenty, but constantly travelling back and forth is sometimes quite tiring. I happened to know about PJF14 from my schoolmate Anastasia Alén, a Culture Export Management student (a.k.a the owner of the book blog who was doing her work placement for the event. So I came there as a volunteer. And since we had free time during the performances, my experience turned out to be much greater than that.

The first time PJF was organised was last year and in this second year it welcomed 6 bands and artists from different places around the world. I didn’t stay inside the concert hall all the time but I guess I was pleasured enough to be one of the audiences.

The first group to perform was Jaume Llombart & Enrique Oliver Quartet from Spain. This might not be an appropriate association but Llombart was the only one in the whole concert that played guitar – his national instrument, which also happened to be my favourite instrument.

Jaume Llombart & Enrique Oliver Quartet - Enrique (saxophone), Jaume Llombart (guitar), Giorgos Kontrafouris (Hammond organ) & André Sumelius (drums), September 11, 2014.

Jaume Llombart & Enrique Oliver Quartet – Enrique (saxophone), Jaume Llombart (guitar), Giorgos Kontrafouris (Hammond organ) & André Sumelius (drums) – September 11, 2014. Photo by Linh Duong.

Llombart and Oliver have been together on many stages. I’ve also checked out some videos of theirs and biasedly speaking, I would have preferred watching their solo duet because I would have heard Llombart’s rendition more clearly. My friend could hear every single instrument individually by closing his eyes but it hardly worked for me. However the melody became more colourful with the help of drums and Hammond organ from 2 artists from Finland.

Dan Barnett & Tricia Evy Group continued the show afterwards. This was probably my favourite piece of the concert. I guess the main reason is because this is closest to the music I often listen to – vocal music. Oddly enough, it literally felt like seeing Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald singing together.

Dan Barnett & Tricia Evy Group - Tricia Evy (vocal), Dan Barnett (vocal, trombone), Riitta Paakki (piano), Ville Herrala (double bass) & Thomas Rönnholm (drums) - 11.9.2014. Photo by Linh Duong.

Dan Barnett & Tricia Evy Group – Tricia Evy (vocal), Dan Barnett (vocal, trombone), Riitta Paakki (piano), Ville Herrala (double bass) & Thomas Rönnholm (drums) – September 11, 2014. Photo by Linh Duong.

The atmosphere was full of romance, and was overwhelmed by what I’d call “stage chemistry”. Before the concert began, when we volunteers were folding the festival T shirts, Barnett and Evy were also there. She was gently nagging him how he should learn to fold his own stuff properly. On the stage, it was still the same chemistry, but the way they interacted was much more intriguing. There was this essence of gracefulness from both of their voices and they blended together perfectly. The duo just owned the whole space back then. They were dancing along the band’s instrumental jam of On the sunny side of the street and the moment the band started to play unplugged, I suddenly felt like home. I also like how they managed to get the audience closer, literally and figuratively, by telling everyone to move forward to the first seat rows in the middle of their performance.

Dan Barnett and Tricia Evy in "On the sunny side of the street" - 11.9.2014. Photo by Linh Duong.

Dan Barnett and Tricia Evy during the performance of “On the sunny side of the street” – September 11, 2014. Photo by Linh Duong.

Tonight At Noon opened the show on the second day. The band is led by their drummer André Sumelius, who is also one of the three directors of PJF. It was just amazing how the wind instrumentalists collaborated, taking turns to play high and low notes. Together with the organ, the melody was beautifully harmonised and I literally got goosebumps.

Tonight At Noon - (from left to right) Mikko Innanen (saxophone), Jussi Kannaste (saxophone),  Juska Eskola (trumpet), André Sumelius (drums) & Mikko Helevä (Hammond organ) - September 12, 2014. Photo by Linh Duong.

Tonight At Noon – (from left to right) Mikko Innanen (saxophone), Jussi Kannaste (saxophone), Juska Eskola (trumpet), André Sumelius (drums) & Mikko Helevä (Hammond organ) – September 12, 2014. Photo by Linh Duong.

In the second part, Sam Yahel and his team were somehow turning music into charm. When I saw Yahel was surrounded by a grand piano and a Hammond organ, the first thing that came to my mind was a play scene where the main character builds up walls to isolate himself with the world. But on the contrary, ours used his “walls” to communicate with the world, meaning the band mates. What’s more terrific was that he kept switching between piano and organ yet the harmonisation still went on so smoothly. The sounds they created just brought to the stage another dimension of romance, presumably as a result of having the grand piano.

Sam Yahel Trio - Sam Yahel (piano & Hammond organ), Matt Penman (double bass) & Jochen Rueckert (drums) - September 12, 2014. Photo by Linh Duong.

Sam Yahel Trio – Sam Yahel (piano & Hammond organ), Matt Penman (double bass) & Jochen Rueckert (drums) – September 12, 2014. Photo by Linh Duong.

Dayna Stephens was the other American speciality we had in PJF14 beside Sam Yahel Trio. He formed a temporary quartet together with 3 musicians from different bands. Unfortunately I was only present for a short while after they started to play, but I managed to capture this image below, in which he was waiting for the other members to settle with their harmonisation. I was imagining what he’d add later on might have been as improvised as could be, but would surely fill the missing piece perfectly.


Dayna Stephens Quartet – Dayna Stephens (saxophone), Jaume Llombart (guitar), Marko Lohikari (double bass) & André Sumelius (drums) – September 13, 2014. Photos by Linh Duong.

Timo Lassy Band wrapped up the last Porvoo Jazz night at Grand. I don’t know if the order of performances was arranged randomly but to me it just happened to “save the best for last”. I didn’t have the urge to dance as much in the previous performances as in this one. I could even vaguely feel a little humour in the way they played.

Timo Lassy Band - September 13, 2014. Photo by Linh Duong.

Timo Lassy Band – Timo Lassy (saxophone), Giorgos Kontrafouris (Wurlitzer piano), Antti Lötjönen (double bass), Teppo Mäkynen (drums) & Abdissa “Mamba” Assefa (congas) – September 13, 2014. Photo by Linh Duong.

The highlight of the performance was the duet of 2 percussion sets – drums and congas. Then everyone took turn to play the shaker before coming back to their own instruments. I’m trying not to sound extravagant but of all those I’d seen in the concert this is the liveliest delivery.

I was totally in awe after those 3 days. I haven’t been to many concerts but compared to being at a rock show, the experience was different in that you don’t jump up and down in the crowd and head-bang to the music, yet it was still enjoyable in its own way. You just sit, relax and gently foot-bang to it.

My affection for jazz also started to grow. Aaaand it’s such a shame that not until PJF14 did I discover Culture House Grand, which I had ignorantly passed by many times because it’s right next to the bus station. There are actually many interesting art and cultural events happening there throughout the year. Grand’s concert hall is not very huge, but small enough for the melodies to be integrated with the audience’s emotion flow. (Hence the title.)

There was also a charity concert at Porvoo Cathedral on Sunday September 14, right after the official concert ended. I didn’t really get to see the gig because I was being the doorkeeper at the hall. But the atmosphere must have been full of enchantment. Imagine jazz being played in a cathedral :p. And my less favourite moment was probably my last turn to open the cathedral door, marking the end of the festival. I don’t know if I would ever be fed up with working for concerts and festivals on a daily basis, but at least till this moment I still do enjoy having been part of the event.

If you happen to be reading this and about to get upset because you missed the fun, then don’t, as Porvoo Jazz Festival is coming back this November with an off-season gig at Zum Bespiel with two artist groups, well, feel free to check it yourself from this link ;). It will be a perfect winter treat.