Saturday, 12 April 2014

Tampere Biennale Day 4 (Part 1: Music and Language & Portrait of a Woman)

Saturday April 12th. The day began splendidly with a good review in today’s paper Aamulehti (read the translated version here).

This was the longest day at Tampere Biennale this year, including four concerts (of which two also were lectures at the same time) and a gig at Klubi.

At 12 o’clock Dante and I hurried to the first event of the day, Music and Language, at the Music Hall of the Old Library House.

The programme was
Janne Saarikivi – speaker, Eija Kankaanranta – kantele, Susanne Kujala and Veli Kujala – accordion, Uusinta Ensemble
Timo Alakotila: Ilmari 24 (1st movement of String Quartet no. 1) (2010)
Iamus: Colossus (first performance in Finland) (2012)
Asko Hyvärinen: valse griffyre (2002)
Max Savikangas: Geeniparanneltu Väinämöinen laulaa kyborgi-Joukahaisen lumeavaruuden mustaan aukkoon (Gene-enhanced Väinämöinen sings cyborg Joukahainen into the black hole of virtual space) (2006)

“Is there a shared basis for different forms of communication? Professor of Finno-Ugric Languages Janne Saarikivi and the Uusinta Ensemble will explore points of contact between music and language in this lecture-concert that will include a hilarious modernised image of Väinämöinen, protagonist of the Finnish national epic, courtesy of composer Max Savikangas.”

Janne Saarikivi at Tampere Biennale 12.4.2014. © Maarit Kytöharju

It was a very interesting concert where the speaker Janne Saarikivi made a lot interesting points about both the connections and differences between language and music.

I was very happy when I noticed there was Alakotila in the programme. He is my godmother’s husband so I was looking forward to seeing him but unfortunately he couldn’t come. (He is touring a lot, so he was probably in some other city or country playing a concert him self.).

Iamus was a piece for solo piano performed by Väinö Jalkanen. I actually thought the piece was quite alright. We were then told that the piece actually wasn’t written by a person but by a “piece generator” (a programme) called “Iamus”. So the whole piece was constructed by a computer. Saarikivi was talking a lot about what the piece worth is to us and if the worth increases/decreases depending on if we think it’s a human or a computer who has composed it. Well, I have to conclude that the piece at least was played by a human, which is a very important thing I think.

My absolute favourite piece in this concert was Max Savikangas’ composition. It had so much cool things going on. While the intensity grew the players began standing up one by one until the whole ensemble (including the cellist!) were standing! It was a great way to end the concert!

Max Savikangas 12.4.2014. © Maarit Kytöharju

After the concert my friends Dante and Väinö came for lunch to my place. Väinö was happy to be in the company of two Swedish speaking Finns, because he always enjoys practising his Swedish (and therefore also speaks good Swedish). Väinö told us surprising facts like that the library in the Liszt Academy in Budapest is much better than the library of Hanns Eisler School of Muisc in Berlin. But he told us that the librarian in Hanns Eisler is really friendly and when Väinö wanted to play a chamber music piece by Feldman, she ordered the score to the library. But Väinö wasn’t in town (Berlin) for about half a year, still, the next time he entered the library (about 7 month later) the librarian said “Mr Jalkanen, the score you once wished for has arrived, just so you know.” He then borrowed the score and playd the piece together with his friends in two contemporary music concerts in Lapland.

After lunch I headed to the Student Theare for the concert Portrait of a Woman. The concert was actually almost sold out, but I managed to get a free ticket from my friend, English horn player Heikki Pöyhönen, who was playing in the concert.

The programme was:

TampereRaw, Tuomas Turriago - conductor
Riikka Talvitie: Mies – miekka vyöllä (2008)
Lotta Wennäkoski: Suka (2008)
Minna Leinonen ja Heta Kuchka, Hildegard von Bingen: Naisen muotokuva (2013)
Duration approximately 80 min, intermission included.

Naisen Muotokuva [Portrait of a Woman] by composer Minna Leinonen and video artist Heta Kuchka combines music, video, light and performance art, exploring the artistry of women in three historical eras. Works written by Lotta Wennäkoski and Riikka Talvitie for the Taiteilijoiden Kalevala [Artists’ Kalevala] project will also be performed.

I really liked the concert in general and there was a nice and intimate feeling about the concert (as the Student Theatre is a quite small place). There was an intermission after Wennäkoski and in the intermission I happened to meet Perttu Haapanen in the coffee queue, so I introduced my self and thanked him for his great piece in yesterdays concert and told him that I liked his orchestration. I was quite astonished and flattered when he replied “oh well congratulations to you too on your good review, I read the paper on the train this morning.”

Portrait of a Woman at Tampere Biennale
© Maarit Kytöharju

Minna Leinonen’s and Heta Kuchka’s Portrait of a Woman left the biggest imprint on me, maybe because it was  music and visual art combined. In the piece the audience was surrounded by the ensemble and the venue was quite dark all the time. Women dressed in white dresses came up on stage, one of them started hanging up white washing. I hadn’t read the programme beforehand and was quite surprised about how Leinonen portrayed these very naïve and passive, dreamy household women, but this was a deliberate choice, as the commission had been given to enlighten people about female artists position in the 19th century. The whole concert ended so that the women in white lit real candles and came and stood around the audience and stared at us and at last blew out the candles so that we all were left in complete darkness. It was absolutely beautiful (in a slightly grotesque way).

Portrait of a Woman at Tampere Biennale 12.4.2014 © Maarit Kytöharju

The fact that there are only three female composers (not counting Matilda and me, as we are only students in a student production) in the whole festival and that all female composers are put into one concert called “Portrait of a Woman” is somehow quite obscure. Someone commented quite accurately “Somehow this makes me think of sports where women and men are competing in different leagues… which shouldn’t exist in music.”

All the women with in the project "Portrait of a Woman" including
Heta Kuchka (in black) and Minna Leinonen (in red) 12.4.2014.
© Maarit Kytöharju

After the concert I went to thank Minna Leinonen for the wonderful piece of music, that really carried the listener the whole way through the piece (30 minutes). Leinonen was one of the first composition students at my university TAMK, when the programme was founded (about 10 years ago) but I had never met her before. When I introduced my self and thanked for the piece I was very surprised when she replied, “Oh you are Cecilia, I have been seeing your name quite often lately, nice to meet you!” And it was also a pleasure meeting her, a very sunny and friendly woman indeed.

To be continued…

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