Friday, 27 June 2014


On the 26th of June I went by bus to Porvoo for listening to a concert of the “Summer Sounds-Avantti!” Festival. The festival always also has a composition masterclass and workshop called “Sävellyspaja” (which more or less means “composition workshop”), nowadays lead by Jouni Kaipainen, Jukka Tiensuu and Tomi Räisänen. The students (from all around the globe) who are elected to the course are asked to compose a work for some constellation of the Avantti! chamber orchestra. The works are rehearsed during the course and performed at an official concert at the end of the course. All students get two private sessions each with every teacher, where they usually use one lesson for talking about the work that they have composed for this project and one lesson usually showing other compositions. I attended this course in 2011 and have to say it was a marvelous experience!

This year my friends Matilda Seppälä and Henri Sokka, both from Tampere, were attending the course, Sauli Zinovjev (from the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki) and more peculiarly, my friend Bin Li from Indiana University (United States, originally born in China). I met Bin in 2012 at a composition course in Berlin held by Doctor Samuel Adler, and last winter I mailed all my former colleagues about this master class, so he applied and came! It was great seeing Bin again after two years!  

Composers Bin Li, Kosmas Giannoutakis, Pang Chun-Ting and Reuben Jelleyman
at the Summer Sounds Festival in Porvoo! Photo © C.Damström

The programme of the concert by the composition masterclass 2014 was:

Instructors: Jouni Kaipainen and Jukka Tiensuu
Jaakko Kuusisto, conductor
Essi Luttinen, mezzo soprano

Bin Li: Lighted Fools
Henri Sokka: Dusty Tales
Sauli Zinovjev: Jum

The task of this year was to compose for a singer as a part of the orchestra, but the participants were given three texts to chose from. As the previous years Jouni Kaipainen was moderating the concert and was also interviewing the participants about their piece, which always is very interesting. The concert was really nice and I especially liked Matilda’s piece “and the vines with their tender grape and Komas Giannoutakis “The Vanishing.

Léo Collin and Jouni Kaipainen at Summer Sounds 2014

Bin Li and Jouni Kaipainen at Summer Sounds 2014

The concert of the young composers was quite early (at 5 PM), so it was followed by an other concert by Avantti!, including the chamber version of Stravinsky’s  A solider's tale. There was also a orchestra piece by the composer in residence Gerald Barry. But the absolutely most memorably number was when the festivals artistic director Barbara Hannigan sang AND conducted the famous coloratura aria from Ligeti’s Le Grande Macabre while dressed in black latex, a black wig and high heels! She was absolutely outstanding!

Barbara Hannigan after the concert at Summer Sounds 2014.
Photo © C.Damström 

After the concerts I hang out with Matilda and the other masterclass members until the late morning hours, and the next day I and a few others got a ride back to Helsinki by Sauli.

Feedback session of the composition masterclass Sävellyspaja 2014. Photo © C.Damström

Composer Henri Sokka Photo © C.Damström

Composers of the masterclass Sävellyspaja 2014 getting ready to go home.
Photo © C.Damström

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