The Workshop, Competition and Prize are named in honour of Einojuhani Rautavaara, one of the leading composers of choral music in recent decades. Rautavaara was born in Helsinki in 1928 and studied at the Helsinki Academy, the Juilliard School and at Tanglewood. He first came to international attention in 1955 when the neo-classical A Requiem in Our Time won the Thor Johnson Composer's Competition in Cincinnati. He studied serialism and soon integrated twelve note techniques, without displacing his essential Romanticism. In the late 1960s his mystical character came more to the fore in music of rich colour and sweeping melodic profile, at once accessible and evocative. His symphonies and concerti have increasingly been commissioned by orchestras outside his native Finland, including works for the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Minnesota Orchestra and the National Symphony in Washington.
Reproduced by kind permission of Boosey & Hawkes
Composer, researcher and teacher, Marco Stroppa (Verona, 1959) studied music in Italy (obtaining diplomas in piano, choral music and direction, composition and electronic music) and pursued further studies at the MIT’s Media Laboratory (computer science, cognitive psychology and artificial intelligence). Between 1980 and 1984 he worked at the Centre for Computational Sonology in Padua, where he wrote Traiettoria, a work which immediately met with considerable success and which continues to be performed regularly.
In 1982 he was invited by Pierre Boulez to join IRCAM (Paris). His uninterrupted association with it has been crucial for his musical growth.
A highly respected educator, Stroppa founded the composition course at the Bartók Festival (Szombathély, Hungary), where he taught for 13 years, met great Hungarian musicians (like Péter Eötvös, Zoltán Kocsis or György Kurtág), and discovered the splendid work of innumerable poets.
Since 1999 Stroppa has been professor of composition in Stuttgart, where he succeeded to Helmut Lachenmann.
Often assembled in the form of thematic cycles, Stroppa’s works draw inspiration from a wide range of experiences: his reading of poetic and mythological texts, a thoughtful engagement in ecological and socio-political issues - in the tradition of Dallapiccola, Nono and the Italian Resistance - the study of ethnomusicology and his personal contact with the performers for whom he writes, including Pierre-Laurent Aimard.
Stroppa is currently working on a theatrical work (Re Orso), based on a text by Arrigo Boito, that will be premiered in May 2012 in Paris and Brussels (Opéra Comique, La Monnaie).
Veli-Matti Puumala studied composition with Paavo Heininen at the Sibelius Academy. He made his breakthrough with his profile concert at the Helsinki Biennale in 1993. He has taught at the Sibelius Academy since 1989 and in 2005 was appointed Professor of Composition at the same institution.
Puumala’s music is characterized by rich yet transparent colours and an affinity to Modernist complexity and abundance of details. His works have won the Prix Italia and the Teosto prize. The opera Anna Liisa was premiered at the Helsinki Festival in 2008. Recent commissions include works for Ensemble Intercontemporain, the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra.
The Helsinki Chamber Choir is Finland's only professional chamber choir. It was founded as the Finnish Radio Chamber Choir in 1962 and assumed its current name in 2005. The choir has a strong record of commissioning and performing new music. Alongside its own concert series in Helsinki, the Helsinki Chamber Choir appears frequently at Finnish music festivals and collaborates regularly with Finnish symphony orchestras. It has released recordings on the Ondine and Alba labels.
The Time of Music festival was founded in 1982 by Jukka Tiensuu and quickly established itself as one of the most daring of international contemporary music festivals. It is organised annually in July in Viitasaari, Central Finland. Guest composers have included John Cage, Heinz Holliger, Jonathan Harvey and Marco Stroppa, to name but a few. In 2009, Time of Music was named Festival of the Year by Finland Festivals. The current Artistic Director of the festival is composer Perttu Haapanen.
Photo of Einojuhani Rautavaara: Maarit Kytöharju / Fimic (2004)