Helsinki-Cotonou Ensemble fuses West African rhythms to an array of jazz, funk and rock for a high-energy sound that appeals to heart, head and feet. Born in Benin in 2009, the band has won fans with high-energy live shows on three continents.
Composing is acquiring an important role at Finland’s music institutes and schools. In the revised curricula, composing is identified as an activity that is – or at least should be – accessible to everyone and whose positive impacts extend far beyond the realm of music itself.
The drama emerges from the everyday conversations of the Judge’s family but expands in the viewer’s mind – thanks in no small part to Talvitie’s powerful music, reflecting horrors in its shrieking noises, dissonances and nightmarish repetitions.
After a string of debuts with renowned orchestras, Santtu-Matias Rouvali is about to take up two significant new positions. Andrew Mellor met him to discuss psychology, leadership and Finland’s musical future.
Independent Finland is 100 years old and has a classical music scene that is diverse, pluralist and multicultural. A century ago, the situation was very different: just as the nation was heavily polarised after the bitter Civil War, musical life was similarly divided.
Väinö Raitio was a Modernist Finnish composer whose works were received with considerable reservations in his lifetime. Today, Raitio’s music is interesting both because of the period in which it was written and because of its artistic quality. Pluralism has rehabilitated Raitio, and music historians no longer need to adhere to the dramatic martyrdom conventionally...
"I was particularly impressed with the way they manage to blend different styles into an amalgam that is distinctly their own. The music is obviously rooted in Nordic and Celtic traditions, but Frigg has also been strongly influenced by American Newgrass."
Finland has become, among other things, a land of pop. Technology is the major contributor to this development: music is more readily available than ever and easier to produce than ever. Finland’s hottest trending performer at the moment is Alma, who has 50 million Spotify streams to her credit.
"The Kalevala myth was a genuine source of inspiration for the fledgling Finnish nation in search of an identity. But has it been such a thing any more, really, since the Second World War?," asks Kimmo Hakola in his Kalevala day column.
"On the whole Musica nova Helsinki was remarkably successful. The festival now boasts many features that have been germinating for quite some time: club nights, a true cosmopolitan attitude and the successful integration of young Finnish composers into an international programme," writes Merja Hottinen in her review of the festival.
Seamlessly, keyboardist and composer Kari Ikonen spins a distinctive sound of his own that draws on music from around the world, grounded in US jazz and fusion of the ‘60s and ‘70s. On Moog synthesizer, acoustic or electric piano, he plays with ecstasy and a fascination with rhythm.
The theory is that goal-oriented art education in Finland is provided for all residents nationwide, at school and through government-subsidised institutions. But in the Sámi homeland in the far north of Finland this is not always the case. In the field of music, this failing is being addressed through the Sámi music adult education project....