Saturday, 31 May 2014

Recollection - Matei Gheorghiu's Concert

Saturday May 31st. After handing in my compositions for my final exam last Tuesday I can’t really remember very much. I think I have mainly been "dead"? Anyway, today my rabbit Viljo moved to our summer cottage. We took a train together from Tampere to Helsinki, and of course I had to take an obligatory “Traveling with my rabbit”-selfie. My father was so nice and got Viljo (and my other luggage as well) from the train station and brought him straight to our summer cottage.

My rabbit Viljo and me traveling from Tampere to Helsinki by train. 31.5.2014

After this I met up with my friend Leo and we went and looked at my friend Matei Gheorghiu’s composition concert. The concert took place at “Balderin sali” on Aleksanterinkatu and he organized it together with the photographer
Octavian Balea and painter (artist) Elina Nissinen, so an interartproject in it’s full meaning.

The concert was structured with some arrangements of Mussorgsky’s “pictures at an art exhibition” for two accordions, that were played in between Matei’s own pieces.

The programme of the concert Recollection 31.5.2014 was:

Matei Gheorghiu: Experiment for 2 accordions
Modest Musorgski: Pictures in an exhibition – Gnomes  (accordion)*
Matei Gheorghiu: Piano Sonata no. 2**
Modest Musorgski: Pictures in an exhibition – Old Castle (accordion)*
Matei Gheorghiu: Ihana surullinen ilta (soprano and piano)***
Modest Musorgski: Pictures in an exhibition: Market place (accordion)*
Matei Gheorghiu: Ratio Spei and Good Freedom (French horn and piano) **

* Projections of artworks by Elina Nissinen
** Projections of photographs by Octavian Balea
*** Live-painting by Elina Nissinen and Octavian Balea

Break: Nissinen exhibition in the cafeteria

Little Memory Stories

- Text and photographs by Balea
- Musical direction and performance by Matei Gheorghiu and The Korvat Auki ensemble.

Musicians: Kiril Kozlovski and Maritta Manner: piano, Annami Hylkilä: soprano, Julian Leslie French: horn, Josip Nemet and Mia Cojbasic: accordions, The Korvat Auki ensemble

Artist Elina Nissinen, composer Matei Gheorghiu and pianist Maritta Manner
at Recollection 31.5.2014. Photo © Cecilia Damström

Artist Elina Nissinen, photographer Octavian Balea and composer Matei Gheorghiu
at Recollection 31.5.2014. Photo © Cecilia Damström

I was very happy I got to see the piece “Little Memory Stories” a second time, after having seen it once at the RRR!!–Festival two weeks earlier. This time I had time to look at the pictures, as I had read the text the previous time, and I really liked it. An other piece that I liked especially much was Matei’s piano sonata, which can be heardunder this link.

After the concert we of course went for a few drinks, and then a small number of us rounded of the great evening once again at Siltanen’s.

Elina Nissinen, Sergio Castrillón and my friend Leo. Photo © Cecilia Damström

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Living 36 hours in the Composition Studio!

Tuesday the 27th of May. All I can say is: I MADE IT! I managed to finish and hand in my 10 min orchestra piece Unborn!!! And I feel like every juice of energy that I ever had in me has been squeezed tightly tightly out, ever so thoroughly…

Title page of my piece Unborn for symphony orchestra.

So what happened after the 14h party? On Sunday 25th of May, after sleeping for 6 hours I got up again at 16 o’clock, ate lunch, went to evening mass then went home, picked up a blanket, food and everything I needed for composing and headed of to the composition studio. I arrived at about 20.30 o’clock and started composing. I had been invited to a party, I had even brought a dress in case I could make it there as well, but now the earnesty of the situation was catching in on me: I HAVE to get everything done within this month so that I can graduate next month, and I HAVE to graduate next month in case I want to begin with my masters at the Academy of Music in Malmö in September 2014! There will come several parties, but to graduate I have to do NOW! So I didn’t go anywhere else except for eating and toiled in the next 36 hours!

I composed the first night until from 20:30 until 5 AM, then spread out my blanket on the floor and slept for 2 hours. At 7 AM I had my alarm ringing again and composed until lunch. I had quite a long (2h) lunch break, then I continued composing all afternoon and night until 4 AM. The second night I slept 3 hours, again on the blanket on the floor. At 7 AM again my alarm rang, and I was still quite worried, I had only got 8:30 minutes so I had to write an other 3-4 minutes before the deadline at 14 o’clock. So I wrote and wrote, and decided to cut out some of the ostinato in the strings, and make a 10 minute piece in stead of a 12 minute piece. At 11 AM I finally was ready! I knew there were typos and mistakes and missing slurs, but at this point I have to say I didn’t care anymore. (There wasn’t any orchestra hungrily waiting for my piece anyway…)

So for comparison; here is a pic of the original drawings of my piece, dated 21.5.
© Cecilia Damström
And here is a pic of the score of the same part of the piece.
(See the glissandos and French horn cluster?)
© Cecilia Damström

So after 36 hours in the composition studio I was finally free to leave. It was very ironical, it was like if the time of the year had changed while I was those 36 hours in the studio. I had arrived in a summer dress and sandals, it had been +26°C, and now it was suddenly +10°C and hailing! I walked home on shaky legs (both of tiredness and cold, wearing sandals while it’s hailing isn’t my sport…), showered and changed to some warmer clothes, headed to the main building for printing the score and having lunch, and then headed off for the final hour of doom, my composition class with Hannu Pohjannoro.

I can’t describe how proud and happy I was, despite the exhaustion, when I lay down the score of Unborn infront of Pohjannoro. He looked at the schore, listened to the midi of the Sibelius file and looked at the score again. I could see relief in his face, which made me very happy. After a long silence he finally said: “The piece works. There are still a few small things that should be corrected, but the piece in it’s entirety works. Congratulations on that. For being honest; I was very worried and wondered how on earth you would manage to get the piece ready on time, I didn’t think it was possible. But your choice to start over again (with the dialogue) was good, the new material you have worked much better than your previous material. Sometimes you just have to have the courage and throw everything away, even at a late stage, so it was good that you did that. Oh well, I guess this was it, this was our last lesson.”

This news struck me with surprise, I hadn’t even thought this far! But yes, it’s the end of May, of course this was my last lesson! But I told him I will be back, for private lessons, so this is not our last lesson. I will be back, as they say...

Sunday, 25 May 2014

The 14,5 hour party!

So Friday May 23rd I spent the whole day composing! Absolutely the whole day, from about 10 in the morning until 5 at nigh. Today again (Saturday May 24th) I got up at 9 AM and started cleaning. My room has been an absolute mess, as I never am home nor have time to clean... But today I'm hosting my "Thank you and Farewell" Party so I have to get this place into shape somehow!

It was a lovely warm early summers day and about 26°C and sunny. I cleaned without eating from 9-16.30 o'clock. Then I rushed with my roll cartridge to Lidl for shopping food! I bought all together about 18 liters of soft drinks and loads and loads of food back home, all alone! (Still don't know how I managed to carry it all...)

I arrived home at 18 o’clock, the time I had written the party was supposed to begin, and I hadn’t even showered yet. But people usually don’t arrive exactly at the given time, so I went and had a shower anyway. And as in all films, the doorbell rang while I was in the shower, and as expected, the first guests were of course male guests, who slightly embarrassedly asked me “wasn’t the party supposed to start at 18 o’clock?” when I opened the door in only a shower robe. I replied “yes, yes, I’m just always a bit time optimistic, but go to the kitchen and have some drinks, there is lot’s to chose from!”. So while my first guests had to keep each other company I got dressed, but still had a towel around my wet hair for the next hour or so (while the next 6 or 7 guests arrived). I made punch, salad, put some frozen pizzas in the oven, cooked some Indian stew and rice and baked a mud cake while my guests were arriving one by one. After the first round of food was done I had time to finally blow dry my hair. Then I continued with baking more cake.

All food was very popular and was happily eaten up by my guests. I was so happy to have so many lovely friends who came over and the party was really great!

After 2 AM many people left, but there were a few tough warriors that happily stayed at the party throughout the night, which was really nice.  But at 8.30 AM (after 14h of party) I was getting tired and had to be a rude host and tell my last guests: sorry but the party is over, I need to go to sleep so that I can continue composing as soon as possible for being able to graduate. So my guests, who still weren’t tired went off and decided to have a swim in the lake close to my house (and also did so, I was told afterwards)! So at about 10 AM I got to bed, after 25h awake (and 14,5 h party)!

Thursday, 22 May 2014

A little bit of this and that…

Thursday the 22nd of May 2014. This week has been filled with a little bit of this and that and a lot of composing. On Monday I applied (of course on the deadline day) for the comprovisation course at the contemporary music festival Time of Music in Viitasaari (Finland). The rest of the day I only used for composing my orchestra piece “Unborn” which has to be finished by the end of this month.

Tuesday morning I wrote a small test for my thesis (to prove I’m the actual author), then voted in the EU elections, composed the whole day and took quite a late train back to Helsinki.

On Wednesday I had to go to the “sailors doctor” for a regular check-up for getting the “sailors health certificate” so that I can work on board for the next two years. You have to book the time to the sailors doctor about two to three month ahead, and you can’t work on a ship without having a valid certificate, so that’s why I had to do it this week although I’m supper busy with graduating right now…

After the check up I took directly a train back to Tampere and headed for my one of my last composition lessons with my teacher Hannu Pohjannoro. It was quite a depressing and stressful lesson. First of all, he told me the deadline for my composition “exam” (returning all the pieces that will be evaluated as my exam), is next Tuesday the 27th of May, so in 6 days time.
I have been working on (=planning in my head) my orchestral piece “Unborn” for about 3 years now. It is basically going to be a string ostinato (= patterns that stay the same throughout the piece) with a dialogue between woodwinds and brass on top of the ostinato. This dialogue I have begun to write about three times so far and on my lesson I had only about 4 minutes dialogue written out of 12 minutes music planned. Not only did I notice my teachers undertone that he didn’t believe I would ever be able to get the piece ready by the deadline, but I also noticed that he didn’t seem to be sure if the material I had would be enough to fill a 12 minute piece.

Well, after this depressing encounter I went home and dropped of my bags, ate, and headed to listen to my friend Annuska Hannula’s final exam concert in theatre music at Kulttuuriravintola Kivi, and she did absolutely great. I tried to leave a bit early, because more or less at the same time it was the final exam concert of my singer friend Tiitus Ylipää, in which the piece “The Voice” by my friend Matilda Seppälä’s was premiered. I ran all the way from Annuska’s concert to Tiitus’ concert, but by the time I arrived I could hear the final applause, so sadly I heard nothing of that concert.

Eero Kiukkonen, Annuska Hannula and Vera Veiskola 21.5.2014.
© Cecilia Damström

The whole Thursday I spent writing, about 4 or 5  hours in the day and the same amount at night again. In between I went and listened to the “Young soloist concert”, where many of my friends (like trombonist Roosa Lampela, violinist Riikka Alakärppä, percussionists Henri Sakki and Ville Koppanen and pianist Lotta Penttilä) got to play one movement or a short piece as the soloist of the Tampere Philharmonic! The audience in the Tampere Hall consisted this night mainly of friends and relatives of the soloists so the ambience was really great; warm and encouraging.

After this I headed to the composition studio where I spent the next 7 hours (until 4 AM) writing my orchestra piece “Unborn”.  And as crazy as it might sound; I began a fourth and final time from the beginning with writing the dialogue between woodwinds and brass! Yep, quite crazy to do that 6 days before the deadline, but I agreed with my teacher and felt like my material wasn’t quite good enough for making a 12 min piece.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

The Andy Warhol Exhibition

Sunday 18th of May. Upp after an other refreshing 4 hours, caught the regional train to Tampere with Matilda, dropped of my things at home and headed to the Sara Hildén Art Museum. At the museum they have at the moment (until the end of May 2014) a wonderful Andy Warhol exhibition going on! I have been planning on going to the exhibition since long, and today the percussion group Osuma Ensemble also had a concert there at 3 PM, so a perfect occasion to combine the two. The concert consisted of pieces that were either written by friends of Warhol or inspired by him. 

After the concert, that lasted for about 45 minutes, we stayed with Matilda and a few other friends for a walking tour around the exhibition. The one hour tour was absolutely great! I didn’t know much about Warhol, but he seems to have been quite an eccentric and difficult person, like many other famous artists…

In front of one of the paintings, that looked just like a big black square, the guide stopped and told us: “Once while I was having a guided tour around here and we stopped in front of this picture, a 10-year old girl stared for a very long time at this painting. After a while she said “It is a horse”. We were very astonished and thought first that “everyone can see what every they want to see in a painting”, but she insisted “Can’t you see? It is a horse!” and when I kneeled down and looked at the painting from her perspective I noticed she was right: when the light fell in the right angel on the black square, you could see there was a horse painted underneath, which had been covered completely by the black square, but which was  visible from a certain angle. So there we learn once again that children sometimes look much more thorough while looking at art than we grown ups.”

After the exhibition I went for evening mass, and then straight home and to sleep, at 20.30! Tomorrow I will have to start to work hard on my orchestra piece, but right now I just have to sleep!

Saturday, 17 May 2014


Saturday 17th of May 2014. I had never been to the bar Siltanen before. It is a redbrick building that looks like an old magazine or factory, which has been turned into a club, just like so many cool places in Berlin (like for instance Tresor). It was really full, but we had a great time! After Siltanen closed we went to the club next to it called Kaiku, which reminded me maybe even more of Berlin, due to it’s over loud techno music and dimmed lights.

After that my one friend made some calls and the three  of us headed of to a after-party. When arriving at the after-party I noticed the guy we were going to was my sisters friend, what a coincidence! We invited two random drunk guys from the street, who sat with us for a while, then they left again. A few of us, including me, stayed over at the party place, because I didn’t feel like going home at 6 AM. Instead I slept until 10 AM, got a green tea, headed home, repacked my bags at turbo speed and ran off again for catching the regional train to Tampere together with Matilda.

The RRR!! - One Day Festival

Saturday the 17th of May, the day of festivities! So what is happening today? Well: Korvat Auki is arrangint the mini festival “RRR!! Taide valtaa”, it is the Restaurant Day, it is the National Day of Norway (although that doesn’t really affect me) and it’s my sister’s birthday! 

Up after an other refreshing night of 4 hours sleep and ran off to the rehearsal of the Korvat Auki concert tonight. My solo viola piece Loco will be performed by my friend Oili Tuhkanen and my friend Liisa Oikkonen has made a choreography to the piece and will perform it at the concert tonight! Was a bit anxious because this is the first rehearsal that I could attend, but everything went fine.

Viola player Oili Tuhkanen 17.5.2014
© Cecilia Damström

Dancer Liisa Oikkonen 17.5.2014.

After the rehearsal I had a quick lunch and then took part of the RRR!! festivals “guided tour” around the Sibelius Academy’s R-house, and was a really cool tour! We were guided by composer Lauri Supponen around the R-building and saw many different performances including dance, singing, music improvisation, a monologue and two wind instruments playing in to a old piano for getting resonance! This one-day festival is organized as Korvat Auki’s way of saying good bye to the Sibelius Academy’s  R-house, which will be out of use for the next five years, because our parliament will be using it for conferences while the main hall of the house of parliament is in renovation. Korvat Auki has had a deal with the Sibelius Academy that we are allowed to book the venue of the R-house four times a year, and unfortunately we haven’t yet got any promise about some other venue that we can use for Korvat Auki concerts now that this one is out of use for five years.

The poster for RRR!! 17.5.2014
© Cecilia Damström

Matilda Seppälä trying out an installation at RRR!! Taide valtaa. 17.5.2014
© Cecilia Damström

After the tour of the R-house I headed home. Time for shower and make up. Then I headed back to the city centre and took part of the restaurant day together with Matilda and we had a really nice afternoon, although a bird decided to take a shit on my shoulder, lovely…

Quinoa sallad made by Kalle Autio
for Korvat Auki's Restaurant Day
© Cecilia Damström

Kalle Autio at Korvat Auki's Restaurant Day. 17.5.2014
© Cecilia Damström

My piece Loco went really well in the concert and I was very happy. The concert was filled with a lot of experimental art, which was both cool and sometimes also confusing (which I think also is cool in it’s own way!). But sadly there were also great technical problems with getting the computer attached to the big screen. So while Lauri managed with to entertain the audience just by his good stage presence and telling about the festival, Matei Gheorghiu and OctavianBalea managed to fix everything so that their show could be shown as well; and it was worth waiting for. It was a film with Octavian Baleas photos combined with a cynical text by a friend of Matei (whose name I don’t remember) and moreover Matei had written a great comprovised piece for the Korvat AukiEnsemble.  (Comprovised means partly composed and partly improvised, so it is like a “composed improvisation”.) I have to say I got a total information overload, because I didn’t really manage to look at the pictures at the same time as I read along the text and listened to the music… But it was beautiful, so I hope I will get the chance to see it again!

Elina Lajunen at RRR!! 17.5.2014
© Cecilia Damström

Matilda Seppälä RRR!! 17.5.2014
© Cecilia Damström

In the second half there was a piece for cello and electronics by Sergio Castrillón, which was made into a drama piece with the versatile artist ElinaLajunen who both sang, acted, tried to sell (as part of the show) hats made of ties (which she actually had made her self!), and danced tango. Then there was a strong performance by the tap-dance artist Hannaleena Markkanen to the music of Kalle Autio and last but not least, there was a piece written by my friend Dante Thelestam in which I was honoured to take part. Because this concert was a goodbye concert to the concert venue of the R-house of the Sibelius Academy, Dante had written a piece for the chairs of the venue, which are famous for their bouncing sound after flipping back when you stand up. So the audience was given different papers with words that started on R. Then Dante, Aino, Niilo and I went up on stage and read aloud words that began with R. If someone in the audience had the word on their own paper they were supposed to push down a chair and let it go (so that it would bounce back into place). So reading out different words in different rhythms made the whole spectacle into a really cool piece!

The chairs of the venue of the R-house.
© Cecilia Damström

Me, the happy composer after the performance of Loco at the RRR!! concert 17.5.2014.
And wearing a hat made from a tie, made by Elina Lajunen.

After the concert Korvat Auki offered all the participants of the concert some sparkling wine in the backroom and we had some nostalgic speeches about what a great Korvat Auki year we have had, filled with so many good concerts.

Viola player Oili Tuhkanen, Korvat Auki's Chariman Matei Gheorghiu and
cellist Sergio Castrillón at RRR!! 17.5.2014
© Cecilia Damström

Some sparkling wine for everyone who helped organize the RRR!! concert.
17.5.2014 © Cecilia Damström

After a while we all moved to have a drink at the restaurant Kaisla. I should have been sensible and gone home, but instead I went with my friend Sergio and two of his friends to the bar Siltanen in Sörnäinen for dancing.

Friday, 16 May 2014


Still Friday the 16th of May. Came in the afternoon to Helsinki by train, and was lucky enough to get a ticket to the sold out concert of the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra at the Music Centre. The concert contained the premiere of Juhani Nuorvala’s orchestra piece Septimalia, which I didn’t want to miss for any price, and I was very happy I got a ticket by pure luck! It was a very exciting event, because the piece provoked very ambivalent feelings in the audience; part of the audience loved it and an other part didn’t like it at all. But as for instance Shostakovich concludes in the book “Testimony: Memories of Dmitri Shostakovich”; the best composers are the ones over which the audience and critiques are arguing if the music is complete rubbish or absolutely fantastic. And this kind of argument was more or less what was going on after the concert, is felt like being part of the book “The rest is noise”. So after the concert I of course headed to the stamping ground of musicians in Helsinki; Urkki, for discussing different peoples opinions on the piece. Because these discussions are extremely interesting and you learn a lot from them. What a night it was!

The Rabbit Review

My flatmate was so nice and had brought my rabbit Viljo to the concert in a cage! I was so happy he had thought about it! I had been thinking it would be so nice to have my rabbit at the concert, and my flatmate thought about it by him self and brought Viljo along! Viljo likes to listen to classical music. But he has been “well trained” because he has been listening to classical music for over a year, so he has developed a taste for what he likes and doesn’t like. (Generally he likes tonal music, especially music in mayor keys. But he also accepts for instance Lutoslawski, to which he listens with interest, while when listening to Messiaen (Veint regards a un infant Jesus) he starts to shiver and looks like if he is going in to some kind of panic state!)

So I asked my flatmate what the verdict of Viljo was of my concert so he told me:

Die Berge and Der Wald Viljo liked very much, and lay happily on his stomach.

Flying high he also liked but he got up and listened to it while sitting.

Landet som icke är he must have thought was too loud because he turned 90 degrees so that he wasn’t anymore facing the stage but instead the wall. (The piece has trumpet and percussion in it that are quite “loud”, at least for a rabbit I would guess!)

In my song cycle Dagbok he became very restless and started tearing the newspapers in his cage and was generally very agitated and wasn’t looking very happy. When I think of it; every time that I have played a recording of Dagbok he has started shredding paper! Maybe he feels the lyrics and is inspired by “I want to tear rip shred…”?

In the second half he was still calming down during the first piece Visheten. During Han som du älskar finns inte mer he was again listening more attentatively. And in the last piece Min Gud he finally relaxed completely, like in the beginning and listened to it while lying on his stomach.

So this was the verdict of my rabbit Viljo. He disagrees with Harri Hautala, the music critique of Aamulehti, Viljo doesn’t seem to like my song cycle but on the other hand he does much more prefer my choral cycle Min Gud instead.

An old pic from january 2013 of me and my rabbit and music critique Viljo

Review of My Concert in Aamulehti

Review in Aamulehti 16 May 2014.

Translation of the review:

Sensitive atmospheres

Cecilia Damström’s compositions concert
Pyynikkisali 14.5 
The first concert of the young and promising composer Cecilia Damström, was characterized by a wonderful positive atmosphere filled with smiles, which isn’t quite the standard within the field of contemporary music.

Damström has a genuine ability to touch the listeners, although at times her compositional technique leaves a slightly unfinished and naivistic impression (especially in the piece Flying High).

The music she has composed so far is carried by soft harmonies, romantically spiced ambience and by melodicnes. Richer rhythmic and more dramatic power remains still to be wised for.

The theme of the consert Landet som icke är (The Land Which Is Not), is also her break through piece, in which the music, just as the language of Edit Södergran, keeps moving forward by the yearning for an other world. The bilingual mirroring of the sensitive texts generates a tension that easily keeps the piece together.

Damström had an opportunity to sink into her personal feelings with her piece Dagbok, in which the aphoristic poems also are a proof the composers verbal talents. The sister of the composer Jacintha Damström interpreted the small songs touchingly with her expressive soprano voice. In the second half of the concert the chamber choir Näsin Ääni sang three choral works while conducted by Markus Yli-Jokipii. The multi-lingual Han som du älskar finns inte mer (The man you love doesn’t exist anymore) was the most interesting and varying of these works.

The new choral premieres Visheten and Min Gud (for mixed choir) were slightly squat due to their seriousness, even though they are very idiomatic choral music.

Harri Hautala (free translation by Cecilia Damström)

Presentation of the Thesis

Friday the 16th of May. Up again after 6h sleep for the presentation of my thesis. There were about 10 people listening to my presentation.

The title (and subtitle) for my thesis is:
Comparation of the studyplan in composition at three different universities
A qualitative study of the studyplan in composition at Tampere University of Applied Sciences, the Sibelius Academy and the Conservatory of Valencia

My opponents made good remarks about my thesis, and as expected I was told that I included too many headings (and subjects) into my thesis and it would have been enough material for three bachelor thesises and that I should have chosen more precisely one of the subjects and should have written more in detail about it. Also my opponent Mikaela Commondt found many language mistakes (which isn’t a surprise after not having written any “serious” text in Swedish since 6 years), which I will correct before I submit the thesis and it goes online. If you are interested you can read the thesis byclicking here.

But my thesis passed and I am very happy with it the way it is! Because in the end; I feel my thesis was very important for my personal growth, and can also be used generally for the future planning of studyplans in composition. And most importantly: I passed (with a grade 3/5)!

Thursday, 15 May 2014

After My Recital

Thursday the 15th of May. I can’t believe it’s all over! Well, not quite true, I still have my thesis dissertation tomorrow and have to write a 10 minute orchestra piece before the end of the month and hand in some tasks for graduating… But the concert! It’s over!

After I had hugged all my friends and family who came to the concert yesterday I got all my stuff (my backpack and two plastic bags) and went with my parents by car to my apartment. While my parents and grandmother greeted my rabbit I ate for the first time this day; Chinese food my mum had brought from a take-away! I was starving but had about 10 minutes to stuff in me as much food as possible and change clothes before I was off again.

The route of the night were all our stamping grounds: pub Tuoppi, Artturi and bar Gloria. When I stepped into Tuoppi the pub burn out into applauses. All my friends were already there and were seated and beaming at me. It was such a wonderful feeling in the air! I was so tired and wanted to talk to and thank everyone and it was so hard to “choose” whom to sit with.

After Tuoppi we went to Artturi, because that place serves food late. But at 2 AM also that place closed, so more or less the only option left (on the West side of the river) that was open until 4 AM was bar Gloria, so a decent number of us headed there.

At 5 AM  I was finally home and in bed and asleep! Thinking I would sleep nice and long I was quite disappointed to wake up at 11 AM and notice I couldn’t sleep any longer. (My body seems to have got used to 4h sleep a night…) Even though I should be preparing my PowerPoint presentation of the dissertation of my thesis for tomorrow, I couldn’t help my self and be simply lazy and do absolutely nothing at all until the afternoon.

At 17 o’clock I headed to the Tampere Hall: they are planning on founding a new small society for students which will be called “The Young Listeners Club” and wanted to hear students opinions about what this club could be like and what we would be interested in. Because I am absolutely terrified by how “traditional” and boring (!!!) theprogramme of Tampere Philharmonic is in autumn 2014, I felt I really needed to attend this meeting for getting my voice heard about this terrible matter. In autumn 2014 there is exactly TWO new piece on the programme! More or less everything else is Shostakovitch, Prokofiev, Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky! Yes yes, I do like these composers as well, but it’s a bit boring to only listen to these a whole season, don’t you think? Like if the world wasn’t full of music!

After the meeting I listened to the concert of Tampere Philharmonic which included Ligeti, Prokoffiev's 3rd piano concerto and Tchaikovsky’s first symphony (as if it would be foreboding next autumns programme). I was so tired in the concert I had a really hard time to concentrate and listen.

Have a listen to Prokofiev's 3rd piano concerto, just because
 it's such a great piece, performed by Yuja Wang
(although she wasn't performing in Tampere).

After the concert I went home for planning tomorrows thesis dissertation. While skimming through my thesis I noticed a terrible error: I had forgotten to paste the whole conclusion into the rightly formatted thesis that I had sent of to my opponents!  (Well, in a way I’m not that surprised, my thesis is all together 75 pages and I have been very tired lately, so a mistake was almost bound to happen…) So I quickly sent of the conclusion of my thesis to my opponents, hoping it wouldn’t pull down my grade too much!

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

My Recital - Landet Som Icke Är

Wednesday the 14th of May. Today is finally the concert, TODAY IS THE DAY! I can’t believe it is finally here, the day I have been working so hard for so many months, it is here NOW!

There were still so many things left to do: I was writing the speaks for the concert hostess, my friend Meerika Ahlqvist, because I want this to be a trip to the Land Which Is Not, and she will be the guide.

She came by, also for trying on my evening dresses (as I now have several), for finding a suitable one for herself as well, because her own one ripped recently. Luckily we are about the same size, so the purple evening dress suited her perfectly!

The whole morning I would every now and then receive a mail from Tarja Reijonen, who was doing the layout of my concert programme, asking me what she  maybe could cut out, so that the programme would altogether fit onto 20 pages in the A5 format. By cutting out the English résumés of the artists (and only keeping the Finnish ones) we managed to save space. She did an absolutely wonderful job with the programme!

Then it was time to shower and do hair and make up, an other 2 hour project, because I want to curl my hair today… On the way to school I passed by the kiosk for buying today's issue of  Hufvudstadsbladet, the first kiosk had already sold their only copy but in the second kiosk I managed to get hold of a copy.

The interview in Huvudstadsbladet 14.5.2014.

At 15.30 I arrived at Tampere Conservatory. I was carrying an enormous and fully stuffed backpack and in addition to that a big plastic bag on each arm. I had brought the two evening dresses, my sound card, cables, make up, extra scarves and accessories if people in the orchestra had forgot to bring some (the dress code was black evening dress and a colorful accessory).

As soon as the venue was available, the music technician Petrus Tuisku and I at once headed in. He started putting together his microphones while I was trying to plan the lights. I had tried to get a light designer from our school, but they were all too busy and booked out so no one could come at the end, so there I was sitting and doing it my self. I wrote down every combination into the ready and neatly printed programme booklet.

My sister Jacintha arrived shortly after 16 o’clock. She will both be playing the flute in “Der Wald” and “Die Berge” and after that she will sing solo with the orchestra in my song cycle “Dagbok”. By the time she arrived nothing had yet been set up, so we didn’t have time to try out the flute and electronic pieces before the members of the orchestra already started to arrive.

The orchestra rehearsal went fine and I continued testing the lights, because I didn’t want a plain boring stage lighting, but on the other hand the musicians must also see the music sheets they are playing…

After the rehearsal we continued to try to get the electronics to work, but they weren’t working… It was only coming out as stereo, and not as quadraphonic as it was supposed to do, but we were not sure if the problem was with the soundcard, my patch, or simply the cables… It was absolutely awful, and at 18.50 (ten minutes before the concert) my sister announced she didn’t want to try anymore, she had to go and change. Petrus and I tried to fix it for another five minutes, but finally we had to give up and decided to do it “double stereo” instead (=stereo coming from both in front and behind instead of 4 different channels).

After this I ran out from the venue into the hall; I needed to find my father. But the hall in front of the venue was packed! Packed with people I didn’t know, and I wasn’t even wearing my concert dress yet at 18.56! I ran back into the concert venue, and out through the other door into the hall again, and then I spotted my father. I ran to him, took his hand and said “I need your help” while I dragged him into the venue. I dragged him to the light table, where I had left the programme in which I had written which lights are supposed to be used in each piece. I explained to him quickly how it worked and ran backstage again. Now the audience was starting to flow into the concert venue. I ran to the dressing room, and pulled my evening dress over me as fast as I ever could and changed shoes. No time to check the mirror this time.

At about 19:05 the concert started. Meerika Ahlqvist wished everyone welcome (in Finnish, Swedish and English) to the trip to the Land Which Is Not and told them she would be the travel guide of the trip (but only in Finnish). The theme for this concert is my vocal music and other music that uses voice. Ironically there is also the theme of death and God very much present as well, in all except one piece (my song cycle Dagbok).

The concert programme was:

DIE BERGE (2010) Op.13 Nr. 1

DER WALD (2011)  Op.13 Nr. 2

Jacintha Damström flute
Cecilia Damström electronics

FLYING HIGH (2012) Op.22

Piia Rytkönen song and jouhikko, Jenni Halonen flute, Heikki Pöyhönen oboe, Andreas Heino clarinet and bass-clarinet, Taina Raittila cello

Text: Edit Södergran

Anna Ranki soprano, Julius Martikainen baritone, Tatuarttu Ruponen violin , Emma Kuosmanen violin, Elisa Kallasjoki viola, Aino Palosaari cello, Roope Mäenpää double bass, Mari Pakarinen trumpet, Henri Sakki percussion

DAGBOK (2011, 2013) Op. 21
Text: Cecilia Damström

Jacintha Damström soprano, Tuomas Turriago conductor


VISHETEN  (2013) Op. 29 premiere

MIN GUD (2010/2014) Op. 16 premiere
I. Min Gud
II. Rädda Mig
III. Ty Han Grep In

Conducted by Markus Yli-Jokipii
Chamber choir Näsin Ääni

It was time for the first pieces, flute and electronics, Die Berge. We haven’t had a single proper “run though”, so the possibilities for a catastrophe are enormous. And already at the very beginning an undesired sound of feedback starts to occur. I intuitively turn down the volume. I think Petrus does it as well, but there is no way I can know now what is happening up at the mixer table where he is, while I am on stage. After the first risky incident we keep the volume slightly lower throughout the pieces, but on the whole the pieces go well. A great stone fell from my heart!

Jacintha and Cecilia Damström 14.5.2014.
Photo by Tuomo Kallioniemi

Jacintha and Cecilia Damström after "Die Berge" and "Der Wald" 14.5.2014.
Photo by Arto Ilkka Jalonen

But the concert isn’t close to over. Next I go up on stage with the quintet for Flying high. That piece goes quite well, although not as well as in the final rehearsal, but anyway, it’s okay.

Piia Rytkönen, Jenni Halonen, Cecilia Damström, (Heikki Pöyhönen out of sight
behin Cecilia), Andreas Heino and Taina Raittila 14.5.2014.
Photo by Arto Ilkka Jalonen

After that I remember I have forgot the sheet of Landet som icke är in the dressing room, so I run with my high heels and evening gown to fetch it, praying to God I won’t trip, and luckily I don’t.

Landet som icke är starts very well, but at some point in the middle some of the players start to slow down the triplets so much that others have to come in wrong and I even stop to conduct for a few measures because I’m quite lost. But luckily we all get together again and make it to the end. When you are as nervous as I was at this point you somehow only seem to think about survival; what went wrong? How can I fix it? Everything that didn’t go wrong can be forgotten at once for summoning more resources of concentration.

"Landet som icke är" 14.5.2014 conducted by Cecilia Damström. Elisa Kallasjoki,
Henri Sakki, Aino Palosaari, Roope Mäenpää, Mari Pakarinen and
Julius Martikainen. Photo by Arto Ilkka Jalonen.

"Landet som icke är" 14.5.2014 conducted by Cecilia Damström. Anna Ranki,
Tatuarttu Ruponen, Emma Kuosmanen, Elisa Kallasjoki, Henri Sakki and
Aino Palosaari. Photo by Arto Ilkka Jalonen

"Landet som icke är" 14.5.2014. Emma Kuosmanen, Elisa Kallasjoki,
Aino Palosaari, Roope Mäenpää, Mari Pakarinen and Julius Martikainen.
Photo by Tuomo Kallioniemi 

In my song cycle Dagbok I could finally sit down in the audience and just listen. Well, first there came a long break while all the chairs and note stands for the whole orchestra were brought on stage by our lovely porters. But it was so nice to be able to listen to my sister singing while Tuomas Turriago conducted the Dagbok-orchestra that I had put together, and it went really well and I was very happy with the performance.

Soprano Jacintha Damström sings Cecilia Damströms "Dagbok" 14.5.2014
with the Dagbok-orchestra conducted by Tuomas Turriago in Pyynikkisali.
Photo by Arto Ilkka Jalonen
Soprano Jacintha Damström sings Cecilia Damströms "Dagbok" 14.5.2014
with the Dagbok-orchestra conducted by Tuomas Turriago in Pyynikkisali.
Photo by Arto Ilkka Jalonen

Soprano Jacintha Damström sings Cecilia Damströms "Dagbok" 14.5.2014
with the Dagbok-orchestra conducted by Tuomas Turriago in Pyynikkisali.
Photo by Arto Ilkka Jalonen

When the intermission began I at once ran up to the light table where my father was sitting and asked if everything was alright. Then I had to start trying out and planning the stage lighting for the second half of the concert, with the choir Näsin Ääni on stage. The choir occasionally complained that they couldn’t see the sheets of what they were singing and I replied “but the light looks so good now!”. Well, I had to compromise as it’s anyway about the music, my music, so they have to be able to see. I scribbled down the new numbers for my dad, then I ran to print out my thank you speech that I had 

The chamber choir Näsin Ääni presented by the concert host Meerika Ahlqvist
at Pyynikkisali 14.5.2014. Photo by Arto Ilkka Jalonen

The chamber choir Näsin Ääni conducted by Markus Yli-Jokipii
at Pyynikkisali 14.5.2014. Photo by Tuomo Kallioniemi

The chamber choir Näsin Ääni conducted by Markus Yli-Jokipii
at Pyynikkisali 14.5.2014. Photo by Arto Ilkka Jalonen

The second half of the concert didn’t have any speeches by the travel guide (Meerika) other than at the beginning and the end, and I could also sit in the audience and just enjoy the good work the choir had done with learning the pieces. Min Gud the choir sang so well that I got cold shivers many times during the piece. Afterwards Meerika thanked the audience and also I went on stage and thanked everyone who had been involved in the concert. I hate giving speeches but I am really greatful to everyone who has helped me make this happen. I’m also very happy there came such a large audience, there must have been around 200 people or more in the audience! That is a large amount for a contemporary music concert by an unknown young composer, and I am very honored that so many could come.

The chamber choir Näsin Ääni thankin Cecilia Damström for the collaboration
at the concert "Landet som icke är" 14.5.2014 in Pyynikkisali.
Photo by Tuomo Kallioniemi

Cecilia Damström thanking everyone who has been part of her composer recital
"Landet som icke är" 14.5.2014 in Pyynikkisali, Tampere.

After the concert so many people stayed to thank me and I was so happy and greatful and relieved (and hungry and exhausted), everything at the same time! My aunt had come all the way from Helsinki and she had brought along my uncle (her husband) and also her boss! I was so flattered they all three had come to Tampere for my sake! And my mother and father and grandmother as well!

And so many of my friends from the Catholic church came as well, among others Natalja and Father Stan and many more. And many many friends from my school of course who all faithfully waited for me (about half an hour!) to give me a hug and a thank you! I was so overwhelmed that I can hardly remember who was there, but I was incredibly happy!