I AM not one for name-dropping but I had my picture taken with Sibelius a couple of years ago. Well, kind of.

For music lovers, no trip to Helsinki is complete without visiting the city centre park that is home to the Sibelius monument, a big sculpture of his head (cue the selfie) and a rather more controversial modern tubular installation.

I always love hearing his music live, so the opening of Power and Passion was an absolute delight.

The joyous and joyful Karelia Suite is one of his most popular and evocative pieces reflecting the historical landmarks of the region of that name and viewed by Finns as the heartland of their culture.

This gentle beginning paved the way for two true box office blockbusters.

First, Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto, a regular on the BSO programme and for good reason. This sweepingly majestic piece in three movements with its lyrical and very familiar principal theme and wonderful fusion of strings and woodwind make this one of the greats. The charming young British violin soloist, Joo Yeon Sir wooed the audience with a virtuoso performance, also clearly greatly enjoyed by the orchestra. She seemed to smile all the way through, truly epitomising the joy of music. She sat in the circle for final piece, Tchaikovsky's Symphony Number 6, Pathetique.

He conducted the first performance of this tour de force in St Petersburg just a few days before he died in 1893. The symphony (all four movement have very familiar themes) is the embodiment of music as raw emotion and passion, laying bare Tchaikovsky's obsession with death and his long battle with despair and depression. For all that background, it is one of his greatest and most powerful works. He thought so.

Under the baton of the very animated and driven conductor Stephen Bell, the BSO showed once again it is at the very top of its game.