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!

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