FINLAND's STATE PRIZE FOR MUSIC AWARDED TO JUKKIS !

I'm truly elated to report the following: On November the 16th, I was awarded the 2011 State Prize for Music by the minister of Culture and Sports, Paavo Arhinmäki. The minister in his argument speech used many superlatives and among other things called me "Finland's internationally most respected jazzmusician through the years". He also praised me for my pedagogic work, mentioning how "the Sibelius-Academy's jazz department under Uotila's leadership became promptly a central place for jazz education in Europe." The event itself was a warm and quite relaxed reception at Smolna, the government's venue for festivities in the heart of Helsinki. I had my family and close friends partying with me and I can tell you it was one of the most moving days of my professional life! I answered the minister with a speech of my own where I thanked him and the Arts council for the prize and mentioned many of the people central to my success. It was hard not to get a little emotional. On the serious side, I also pointed out some areas of the Finnish music life that still require improvement. The general lack of funds and performance venues for jazz music and the need for Afro-American music education in grade schools in general were just some of the topics I mentioned. But, naturally my joy for receiving the prize was on the surface as I was truly, truly elated! Our music is universal, but as this is a national prize, I'd like to share the joy with all the great Finnish jazz musicians and fans. Thank you all!

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