Kaija Saariaho - Festival Composer and Artist in Residence

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March 27, 2017

When she was a little girl, Kaija Saariaho had so much music flowing from her pillow she had to ask her mother to turn it off so she could sleep.

Today the world is certainly grateful that music kept flowing from that little girl’s head. Kaija Saariaho has since long been considered one of our most outstanding composers, her list of achievements including a number of awards and distinctions and her compositions being performed on the world’s most prestigious arenas.

The Finnish composer was born in Helsinki in 1952, where she became a student at the Sibelius Academy. Her studies later brought her to Paris and IRCAM, where she focused on computer-based composition. During this year’s festival we give prominence to the totality of her artistry.

– Bergen International Festival’s ambition is to present world class art. Kaija Saariaho is a leading figure within modern music, and I am proud to present her as our 2017 Festival Composer and Artist in Residence. The audience will experience Saariaho’s art both in the symphonic form and chamber music format, and her musical drama is also represented. Besides, it is a great pleasure for the Festival to take part in Finland’s 100 years celebration by highlighting Finnish music in a series of concerts, dialogues, and introductions, says Festival director Anders Beyer.

Kaija Saariaho is renowned for creating stirring, almost physical works with luminous, dense acoustic patterns that are continually

changing. The audience tend to experience the music as visual, as colours or atmospheric paintings, whether they are listening to works for smaller ensembles, symphony orchestras, or the opera stage.

The oratorio La Passion de Simone, performed at Cornerteateret, is ‘a magical union of words, music and theatre; a creation of great beauty and drama …’ according to The Independent on Sunday. Saariaho’s compositions are also a central part of the Closing Concert and the extensive concert programme for the composers’ homes. She also participates in the Dialogues programme, gives the opening introduction to the world premiere of the commissioned work Concordia, and gives a masterclass for students.

– Bergen International Festival is a cornerstone in Nordic music life, celebrating the past, present, and future of the arts. To me it is inspiring to be given prominence as Festival Composer and Artist in Residence, says Kaija Saariaho.

Saariahos is the first out of three Festival Composers that is going to put their distinct marks on the festival over the next three years.  

Supported by FINNO, The Norwegian-Finnish Cultural Foundation, The Sibelius Society of Norway and The FinnishNorwegian Cultural Foundation

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