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  1. Even the Score
  2. UI Press | Pirkko Moisala | Kaija Saariaho
  3. Only the Sound remains by Kaija Saariaho in Amsterdam

There was pressure from the academy to conform to more conventional archetypes of modernism, and subsequently, when she studied with Brian Ferneyhough in Freiburg she experienced the aridity of what she thought of as the over-systemisation of some species of contemporary composition — "all of that complexity, and for what aural result?

And it was a French institution that finally sealed Saariaho's flight from her homeland in the early s: the underground labyrinth of electronic and electro-acoustic experimentation, IRCAM , underneath the Pompidou Centre. There she discovered the computer technology that would allow her to realise the sonic phenomena she heard in her personal musical universe.

The pieces that resulted, like Verblendungen and especially Lichtbogen "a piece I can approve", as this most self-critical composer describes it, "it's breathing music" opened up new possibilities for the way acoustic instruments and the computer technology of the mid s might work together.

Even the Score

Saariaho's stroke of brilliance and imagination in these pieces is to make the connections between the live musicians and the other world of the tape and electronic sounds as seamless as possible. The "breathing" of Lichtbogen applies just as much to the electronics as it does to the ensemble's music, and above all to the immediate, sensual impact of the whole work.

The brilliance of her works that fuse electronics with instruments is the way they melt the divisions between both worlds. The electronics become a halo around the instruments, amplifying their sonic palette yet indivisible from them. Your ears are seamlessly taken into another realm, a place that's both ethereal in its sheer, rarefied beauty yet grounded in the real world of instruments and voices. Having immersed herself in the possibilities of electronics , Saariaho can now create the same uncanny effect of distance and transcendence using only an un-adulterated acoustic orchestra, as in her recent Orion; imagining and realising sounds you didn't think the orchestra could make.

Reading this on mobile? Click here to view video. Saariaho's music since then has not compromised the techniques it uses, whether electronically or acoustically, in order to serve the private yet grand passions her work describes. Her operas especially explore the big themes of war, of love, of existence; and each has created a new sonic universe to do so. But for all the change in her life and her career, and the largest possible scale of orchestral and operatic music that she now often works in, there's something in Saariaho that remains of that sensitive and dreaming child, the fundamental desire to realise her ever-mysterious musical visions.

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UI Press | Pirkko Moisala | Kaija Saariaho

But that's a process that involves making the private, public; that necessitates revealing to the world the most delicate areas of experience and contemplation. Talking about her most recent opera, Emilie , composed for the solo voice and solo persona of Karita Mattila , who is alone on stage for all 90 minutes of the piece, she says: "It's always the inner space that interests me.

Like all of my operas, it should have the effect of being fundamentally private music, music that I want to communicate with the inner world of my listeners, just as it expresses my inner imagination. The middle section, in severe contrast, is an exercise in extreme deceleration.


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Descending patterns on the piano give the feeling of a staircase that goes down and down without ever reaching the bottom, and the other instruments melt away into rustlings and breathing sounds. At the very end, the score approaches total stasis—the still point at the center of the vortex.


  1. About this Artist?
  2. Kaija Saariaho - Concerts, Biography & News - BBC Music;
  3. A guide to Kaija Saariaho's music?
  4. Building a 2D Game Physics Engine: Using HTML5 and JavaScript;
  5. Portrait of Kaija Saariaho - Opéra national de Paris?
  6. The instrumentalists, from the Belgian ensemble Ictus, played the first part alone; then the dancers performed a silent sequence that, one gradually realized, matched the preceding music. After that, the borders between dancing and playing blurred: the musicians were in constant motion, and the pianist Jean-Luc Plouvier somehow executed his part while dancers wheeled his instrument to and fro.

    Ircam, l'art de l'innovation

    The great thing was simply to see it played, before a rapt, tense crowd. When the right frame is found, allegedly difficult modern music becomes second nature.

    Only the Sound remains by Kaija Saariaho in Amsterdam

    Last year, St. It is possible to apply for the course with an option to compose a new piece for a chamber ensemble e. Uusinta Ensemble which will be premiered during the festival, or without the option.

    Kaija Saariaho: Six Japanese Gardens (1994)

    The ensembles available 2—5 musicians will be notified to the accepted applicants. Please do not submit materials before the online form opens. Conducting Course