Friday, 1 September 2017

My concerts 2017

This spring has already contained many great concerts, but as I update my blog (too) rarely, I’ll write all performances of my music (that I know of) here in one post. You are most welcome to come and listen if you happen to be in the region!

17.1 Konzertsaal, HMDK Stuttgart, Germany
Sydänlaulu played by Prof. Andra Darzins (viola)

Poster for the concert 17.1.17

6.2 at 7 PM - Pyynikkisali, Tampere Conservatory, Tampere
Summer Memories (13 min pianotrio) played by Elina Seppänen (violin), Jyri Häkkinen (cello) and me (piano)

Jyri Häkkinen (cello), me (piano) and Elina Seppänen (violin) after the
performance of my piece "Summer Memories" on the 6th of February 2017

9.3 at 6 PM - House of Nobility, Helsinki
Paradiso (4 min for wind orchestra) played by Aava Winds and conducted by Eero Lehtimäki

31.3 at 7 PM - Organo, Music Center, Helsinki
Shapes (16 min for accordion) got it’s Finnish premiere by Janne Valkeajoki as part of his Master’s Recital. Video coming up soon!

Janne Valkeajoki playing the Finnish first performance
of my piece "Shapes" at his Master's Recital
31st of March 2017. Photo © Cecilia Damström

11.4 at 7 PM - Pyynikkisali, Tampere Conservatory, Tampere
Characters (6 min for solo piano) will be performed by me, along side the first movement of  Shostakovich Piano Concerto No.2 

Via Crucis (22 min for string-quartet) will be performed by the Felis Quartet on Good Friday

19.4 at 12 PM - Pyynikkisali, Tampere Conservatory, Tampere
Characters (6 min) for solo piano will be performed by me as part of my Piano Bachelor’s Recital 

World premiere of “Sailing to Windward” for male choir, performed by Brahe Djäknar conducted by Ulf Långbacka. Music by me and text by Michael Binnie

20.8 - Kokonainen Festival - Hämeenlinna
World premiere of my piano quintet "Minna"

25.8 at 8.30 PM - Tampering-Festival - Tampere
Shapes will be played by Janne Valkeajoki at Tampereen Ylioppilasteatteri

26.8 at 7 PM - Tampering-Festival - Tampere
Unborn (version for chamber orchestra) will be performed by the Tampering Ensemble and Maja Metelska in the Small Auditorium of Tampere Hall.

The next upcoming concerts:

12.10 at 7 PM - Finländska pinnar - Linköping, Sweden
At Teasdale's will be performed by Linköping Studentsångare, conducted by Christina Hörnell. Music by me and text by Sara Teasdale.

21.10 at 7 PM - Linköping Studentsångare's 45th Anniversary - Linköping, Sweden
At Teasdale's will be performed by Linköping Studentsångare, conducted by Christina Hörnell.

10.11 at 6 PM - Dumma Kungen - an opera for children - Kauniainen, Finland

My opera "Dumma Kungen", commissioned by Musikinstitutet Kungsvägen will get it's world premiere at Uusi Paviljonki in Kauniainen, Finland. Text by Monica Vikström-Jokela, directed by Seija Metsärinne and composed by yours truly. Performed by the students of Musikinstitutet Kungsvägen. The premiere is already sold out two month ahead!

Illustration by Nina Haiko

11.11 at 4PM and 6PM - Dumma Kungen - an fairytale opera for children - Kauniainen, Finland
Second and third performance of my fairytale opera Dumma Kungen.

11.11 at 6 PM - Jubilate Choir 50 years anniversary - Helsinki
World premiere of my "Missa Brevis", commissioned and performed by the Jubilate Choir for their 50 years anniversary, conducted by Edward Ananian-Cooper.

13.11 at 10AM and 12PM - Dumma Kungen - an opera for children - Kauniainen, Finland
Fourth and fifth performance of my fairytale opera Dumma Kungen. The performance at 10 AM has already sold out.

14.11 at 10AM and 12PM - Dumma Kungen - an opera for children - Kauniainen, Finland
Sixt and seventh (also last)  performance of my fairytale opera Dumma Kungen. The performance at 10 AM has already sold out.

Saturday, 12 August 2017


My orchestra piece Unborn, originally for a large orchestra, will get it’s chamber orchestra premiere in two weeks time, so that is why I want to write about why I wrote this piece in the first place.

This is my program comment on Unborn:

“Unborn op.31 is my first larger work for orchestra. The main idea for the piece came into form already in early 2011, but I didn’t write down the piece until the spring 2014 when graduating from Tampere University of Applied Sciences. In the autumn 2015 I finalised today's version of the piece, which was premiered by Jyväskylä Sinfonia in January 2016. This year (2017) I have made a new arrangement of  the piece for the Tampering Ensemble, which will be premiered 26.8.2017.

The piece has three different characters which are represented by the different instrument groups: the strings and bass drum play a pure and growing theme of life, the brass an almost aggressively persuasive material which leaves the woodwinds to ponder between the choice of on whose side to be. During the piece the brass gradually manages to force the woodwinds in to their own shape, towards the end.

Unborn is a story about life and death, about personal choices, and about society, and of course about good and bad. It is my personal testimony against how easily abortions are nowadays committed, often without enough reflection on how it will also affect the mother and her life afterwards, not to mention the unborn child. The piece is dedicated to all the mothers of the world, who don’t get support or approval from their surrounding for their motherhood.”

Living in Finland, where abortion is legal since 1970, I maybe have a privileged situation, because abortion is simple and rather unstigmatized. But I still feel it is a slight taboo: everyone is so keen on talking about the right of women to decide about their own bodies and their right to commit abortion.  But I feel that people tend to forget the other side of the discussion: women’s right to know about psychological stress and depression after abortion, as well as a woman’s rights to keep her child, irrespectively of her age, social status or income. These aspects are in some cases not discussed, and I have met a few very devastated women, who wish they would have been better informed about these aspects.

Sometimes I wish I could choose what I believe in. When living in Scandinavia, you are more or less expected to accept abortion. You are expected to accept this opinion, and no other opinion seems to be socially acceptable. I wish I could choose, but I can’t. Deep inside I believe abortion is something that should try to be avoided at any expense, because deep inside I believe it is life we are killing.

I can’t say that I think that abortion is wrong under any circumstances; if the mother’s’ health is endangered, I do feel her life is more important than the unborn child, because the mother has already a place and family here in life. And I am a lucky person who never has had to experience awful things such as rape, incest or a need for abortion, so of course I don’t see myself in a position to judge others for their decisions.

Just looking at the statistics for abortions in Finland in 2014,  out of 9780 abortions 9011 were committed for social reasons. Other reasons were that the mother was under 17 years old (194 cases), or over 40 years old (275 years), deformations of the embryo (355 cases), or the mother having four or more kids already (220 cases). Only 69 cases were because of medical reasons, and as little as 8 cases were documented to be because of rape or incest.

The last mentioned cases constitute an own dark chapter that can hardly be spoken about by people who haven’t experienced such things, but I wish the “social” part could be discussed without it being taboo.

In Finland however, women who want to have an abortion are required to first have a discussion about it with a doctor, which isn’t required in Sweden or Denmark. This is thought to be one of the reasons why Finland percentually has only about half as many abortions as for instance Sweden. This I see as a positive thing.

So at the end, I don’t feel like Finland should drastically change its legislation on abortions. However; society could maybe give single mothers more support, especially financially. As long as children are mainly seen as a burden for a (single) woman’s career, it means that we are not living in an equal society.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Minna - Piano Quintet No. 1

My first piano quintet “Minna” is also the first quintet out of a trilogy consisting of three large form works with the theme “Woman’s Destiny”. The trilogy is a commission by the Kokonainen Festival and the upcoming works will be premiered on the festivals of 2018 and 2019.

The first quintet “Minna - Pictures from the life of Minna Canth" will gets its world premiere this year on the 20th of August at the Kokonainen Festival. It will be played by the incredible musicians Linda Suolahti, Anna Husgafvel, Mari Viluksela, Sara Viluksela and Tiina Karakorpi. As the name says, it is a selection of images from the turbulent and fascinating life of the first famous Finnish feminist Minna Canth (1844-1897).

A sneak peek from the beginning of "Minna", my first Piano Quintet.

The first movement “Alku” (“Beginning”) is about Minna Canth’s happy youth - she was a very bright girl full of life. Her father wanted her to get the best education he could afford, and she was one of the first women to begin her studies at Jyväskylä Teachers Seminary, which was the first school in Finland to offer higher education for women. “I could once again dedicate myself to intellectual occupations and did so with great pleasure and joy. It was as though I had begun to live again.” She however interrupted her studies and married her former teacher Johan Ferdinand Canth. Within the next fourteen years she bore seven children while helping the poor, and working as a journalist.

The second movement “Pysähdys” (“Pause”) is about the despair I can imagine Minna felt, when her husband died in 1889 while she was pregnant with their seventh child. She was exhausted both physically and mentally. After the birth of her seventh child she was very depressed and wrote in her memoir “— — an awful force tried to overwin me to kill my youngest child”.

The third movement “Tahto” (“Volition”) is about the inner thrive of Minna. “My biggest joy and sweetest pleasure is writing. I can’t imagine how I could live anymore, if I wouldn’t be allowed to write” Minna wrote in a letter in 1883. Tirelessly she wrote both articles and theatre plays during the whole of her life. She was always a very idealistic woman who fought for the rights of the poor, sick and those in need. She worked for laws to regulate alcohol consumption, and for laws that would permit women to own property even after having got married. She questioned the idea that poor people were poor due to God’s will,  and instead she implied peoples’ obligation to help the ones in need. She was also a very well read woman who kept herself very well informed about the literature of her time. She writes in one letter “What a great war hero I would have been, had I been born a man in a time of war!”. Due to her fighting spirit and her critical texts, she also managed to get many enemies. But her impact on society was probably greater than that of any other woman at any time in Finland.  She is the only woman who has an own flag day in Finland - March 19th, the day of equality.

Minna Canth died due to heart failure on the 12th of May 1897 and the word about her death spread fast around Finland. Her funeral was held three days later and was so well attended that the whole cemetery outside the church was filled with people. The last movement “Muisto” (“Memory”) describes the void she had left in society through her death, but also how she has been the beginning of a new society where people have more equal opportunities. The women’s right activist Lucina Hagman, whom Minna much appreciated, writes about her friend Minna: “You, you taught us to feel humanity, taught us to look for humanity and to find it even there, where the world didn’t want to see it nor recognise it existed. This inexhaustible love is the greatest  gift you could give your people; you fulfilled by your acts the greatest eternal command; love one another.”

Portrait of Minna Canth by Kaarlo Vuori