I am diocese secretary Raimo Paaso from Haukipudas. At the core of my work is the development of Northern Finland’s church music and divine services.

How’s your life at the moment, during these rather unusual times?

Especially during this spring I’ve been learning to focus on the “right now” of a question. From the viewpoint of right now it’s rousing to admire the awakening of nature, and through it it feels like my own soul also has some new and fresh energy. State of emergency has required a lot of focusing on the fact that there’s just as much good and beautiful around us as before.

How do you see Oulu right now?

Oulu is a city of light. It can especially be seen in my family’s French exchange student, who just goes crazy with the amount of light at nights.

Think one year from now. Where are you, how’s your life?

Hard question since one can’t even be sure of tomorrow, but I hope that I would still be able to carry out my musical dreams with the people living here, and that we could gather together to play and sing. Oulu, and the whole Northern Finland, has incredible musical potential and I believe that a year from now we’ve together found something new and life enhancing from music.

Oulu is bidding for the title of European Capital of Culture 2026. Why should Oulu win the title, what makes us the best candidate?

Oulu is the Paris of Northern Europe! Oulu truly is the heart of Northern Europe, beating and spreading goodness above all to its citizens and through us, everywhere. Oulu is a spring, bubbling happily and so multi-threadedly, that as an European Capital of Culture we’d be a gift to the whole Europe.

What do you want to say to the Oulu of 2026, when we are the European Capital of Culture?

Just exist in peace and do what your soul tells you to, it’ll be good! And best of all, in here we can be just the people that we are, and that’s enough. Good luck!