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Tampere Hall and composer Kaija Saariaho to collaborate – the In Focus Kaija Saariaho event will include a Finnish premiere, free programme, discussion events and cooperation with educational institutions.
Kaija Saariaho, one of Finland’s most successful contemporary composers, will be the guest composer for Tampere Hall’s spring season. The In Focus Kaija Saariaho event, taking place in early March, brings to Tampere Hall two concerts built around Saariaho’s music, free public events and artist meetings as well as cooperation with educational institutions. The main concert is the Finnish premiere of the chamber version of one of Saariaho’s most well-known works, the oratorio La Passion de Simone. The concert will be held on Sunday, 10th of March. Tickets can be bought at the ticket sales desk in Tampere Hall or through the Lippu.fi service. The programme for the event will be finalised during late 2018.
Kaija Saariaho’s La Passion de Simone will feature Avanti! chamber orchestra from Helsinki and a musical theatre company La Chambre aux echos from Paris. The soloist for the performance is the Japanese soprano Sayuri Araida and the actress is Isabelle Seleskovitch from France. The piece will be performed in French with Finnish surtitles.
La Passion de Simone is based on the French philosopher Simone Weil’s (1909–1943) life and ideas, which Saariaho has admired from the time she was a teenager. The oratorio, consisting of 15 stations, has been influenced by the 14 Stations of the Christ’s Cross, the 15th station being the end of the journey.
“Weil was an incredibly empathetic person who was looking for answers both as a philosopher and through action. She wanted to experience the hard life of a factory worker, and, despite her frailty, she did things such as working as an ambulance driver during the Spanish Civil War. Weil is a thought-provoking example of a person who searches for the meaning of existence both through words and through action, and I have dedicated this work that means a lot to me to my children,” says Saariaho.
Clément Mao-Takacs, a Saariaho specialist, will be the conductor, and Aleksi Barrière is in charge of stage direction. Saariaho’s compositions directed on stage have not been performed in Tampere before.
According to Saariaho, the themes of La Passion de Simone, which revolve around fundamental questions of humanity, have become even more current in recent years. The production, which premiered in 2013, has been performed ten times and has, according to Saariaho, matured into a fine work of art.
“In my opinion, this chamber version, or at least this exact production, is stronger than the original, which was composed for a symphony orchestra; this version has more humane power and more individualised voices, and it is richly staged,” says Saariaho.
On Friday 1st of March the In Focus Kaija Saariaho event will begin with the From the Grammar of Dreams -concert, where Saariaho’s pieces From the Grammar of Dreams and Lonh will be performed. Soprano Pia Freund, violinist Minna Pensola and dancer étoile Minna Tervamäki will star in this interdisciplinary concert. Music by Gustav Holst and Arvo Pärt will also be performed at the concert.
Lonh (1996) was created in connection to Saariaho’s first opera, L’Amour de loin (2000). The opera tells the story of Jaufré Rudel’s life, and texts by the troubadour are also used in Lonh. From The Grammar of Dreams (1988), on the other hand, is an earlier and more intense piece, the texts of which are borrowed from Sylvia Plath’s works. Both of the pieces performed at the concert include electronically produced or modified sounds alongside traditional instruments, which is typical of Saariaho’s works.
The In Focus concept at Tampere Hall aims to improve the offering of contemporary classical music in Pirkanmaa, to provoke discussion about the significance of art in society and to encourage young people working in the field of contemporary classical music. The In Focus Kaija Saariaho event will feature free artist meetings and discussion events. The details of these events will be published during late 2018.
Tampere Hall and Kaija Saariaho will also arrange a workshop for young composers studying composition at TAMK/Tampere Music Academy. Philosophy students at the University of Tampere will be able to take part in a discussion event, with introductory remarks, based on the worldview of Simone Weil. Tampere Hall will also do audience development work with the region’s high schools, and around 200 high school students will be invited as guests to see La Passion de Simone.
“We want to eliminate art-related prejudices and the fear of not understanding by meeting the audience and introducing the people and the themes behind the works. I am very happy that the Finnish premiere of this stage piece which is very important to me will be held in Tampere. I look forward with interest to the audience meetings and the discussions on themes that concern all of us. And it would be nice to hear about the reactions my music may potentially cause,” says Saariaho.
“Saariaho’s music has a very broad and diverse fan base, and being able to bring all these people together through this event is wonderful. We are very honoured to be able to hold this event together with Kaija Saariaho. Our shared wish is that this collaboration will also continue,” says Paulina Ahokas, Managing Director of Tampere Hall.
The free events included in the In Focus Kaija Saariaho event are sponsored by the Council of Tampere Region. The other sponsors of the event will be revealed later.
In addition, In Focus Kaija Saariaho brings to Tampere free public events and artist meetings as well as cooperation with educational institutions. The programme for the event will be finalised during late 2018.
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