HELIjaKEEL’s Saariaho festival will feature the music of Finland’s most renowned contemporary composer Kaija Saariaho in addition to works by Estonian composers Arvo Pärt, Jüri Reinvere and Helena Tulve. These will be performed by musicians from Estonia and abroad, including soprano and harpist Arianna Savall (Spain) and flautist Camilla Hoitenga (USA).

The 2015-2016 season of HELIjaKEEL (SOUNDandLANGUAGE) led by Kammermuusikud, in addition to its usual mandate of juxtaposing music and poetry, focuses more on different musical styles. The opening concert of the HELIjaKEEL Saariaho festival – MIRRORS will feature the music by Arvo Pärt and Kaija Saariaho. Although the styles of these two composers are different, it is also possible to find unifying elements in their music.

Kaija Saariaho is a prominent member of a group of Finnish composers and performers who are now, in mid-career, making a worldwide impact. She studied at the Sibelius Academy and continued her studies in Freiburg and from 1982, at the IRCAM research institute in Paris – the city which has been most of the time her home ever since. At IRCAM, Saariaho developed techniques of computer-assisted composition and acquired fluency in working on tape and with live electronics. Before coming to work at IRCAM, Saariaho learned to know the French ‘spectralist’ composers, whose techniques are based on computer analysis of the sound-spectrum. This analytical approach inspired her to develop her own method for creating harmonic structures, as well as the detailed notation using harmonics, microtonal and detailed continuum of sound extending from pure tone to unpitched noise.


However paradoxical it might be, silence seems to be the essential purpose of Arvo Pärt’s music: he does not consider the notes or musical sounds as the essence of music. For him, the sounds only point towards the essential, in the same way as words always only serve as a hint towards something more. The essential will always remain hidden between the sounds. Often, Pärt’s creative method is compared with fasting, with voluntary asceticism: for him, reduction is far more important than enlargement. He has always been frugal with his means of expression, even parsimonious – and yet his music is benevolent.