Newsletter

The House of the Sun opera in Austin/Texas and in Finland

Einojuhani Rautavaara´s opera The House of the Sun is a co-production of the Sibelius Academy, University of Texas at Austin and the Theatre Academy of Finland's Department of Lighting and Sound Design. The performances will take
on Oct 14-15 in Finland and on Oct 29 – Nov 1 in Austin/ Texas. The singers come from both universities and the orchestras from the respective universities.

The opera is based on a real life story of Eleanor (Noora) and Irene
(Riina) Thiessen. These sisters along with their family had to flee St.
Petersburg after the revolution in 1917. They moved to Finland and lived
in a house called Solgården (Sun´s garden) for almost 70 years. Their
family members died tragically one by one. When the wealth disappeared,
also the maids and footmen vanished and the life of luxury came tumbling
down. However, the sisters continued living in their minds as if nothing
had changed. Finally in the winter of 1987, they literally froze to their
house.

Performances at the University of Texas at Austin
The Butler Opera Center / McCullough Theater
Oct 29 - Nov 1, 2009 at 7.30pm
Tickets $20/17/10 from the UT PAC Box Office, www.utpac.org, or at the
door.

Conductor Markus Lehtinen
Stage Director Vilppu Kiljunen
Set and Light Designer Markku Uimonen
Costume Designer Eija Mizohata
Video projections Samuli Laine

"It´s time for you now to return.
For all the future, past, and present are but memory."

Further information:
Sibelius Academy
Producer Anna Jaskiewicz
ajaskiew@siba.fi
tel. +358-50-5262005

University of Texas at Austin
Professor of Music and Director of Opera
Dr. Robert deSimone
rdesimone@mail.utexas.edu
tel. 512-471-9408

(Sept.2009)

Finland has honored Marvin Suomi

The President of Finland has confered the honor of Knight, First Class, Order of the Lion of Finland on Marvin Suomi of Los Angeles. The decoration ceremony took place on August 26 in Helsinki.

The honor was proposed by the Sibelius Academy and recognizes Suomi’s achievements in education and his support of Finnish cultural causes in the United States as well as Finland.

Recently Suomi was a supporter of the Sibelius Academy performance at Disney Hall in Los Angels and the Sibelius Academy Creative Dialogue in Santa Fe, New Mexico. In addition, he has actively supported the launching of the FSA.

“The Sibelius Academy, among many other institutions, has the privilege of including Marvin Suomi in the circle of its supportive friends”, said Dr. Gustav Djupsjöbacka, Rector of the Academy. “His unselfish and devoted support of Finnish heritage, culture and education in the USA is quite unrivaled.”

Djupsjöbacka noted that in recent years Suomi has helped underwrite the worldwide exhibition of architect Eero Saarinen and concerts of the Sibelius Academy.

Suomi, a charter trustee and visiting fellow of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, also serves on the governing and advisory boards of the University of Michigan, Drew University in New Jersey and Concordia University, St. Paul, Minnesota. He also serves as special counsel to the president of Finlandia University. He is vice chair of the Los Angels World Affairs Council, chair of the LA’s BEST after school enrichment program, a trustee of the Princeton-in-Asia foundation and a trustee of the Education Development Center, Inc. Suomi was instrumental in establishing the Center for Hmong Studies at Concordia University where he was presented the Doctor of Humane Letters.

Suomi, a resident if Beverly Hills, is President and CEO of KUD International, a company that developes large scale, public-private projects worldwide.

(August, 2009)

Creative Dialogue 2009 for Young Cellists in Santa Fe

 

Creative Dialogue I - a special composing and performing students' workshop - was organized for the first time in Santa Fe, New Mexico in 2008. The workshop was a great success, and therefore the Sibelius Academy  decided to make it an annual tradition. Creative Dialogue II was held from June 1 to 10 at the Acequia Madre House in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

This year seven cellists were invited from top American universities and the Sibelius Academy. The musicians came from  the Eastman School of Music, Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, the New England Conservatory, the Juilliard School of Muisc, the Yale School of Music and the Sibelius Academy. The cellists worked together, guided by distinguished Finnish cellist Anssi Karttunen.

At the end of the ten day workshop, the ensemble presented a concert at the St. Francis Auditorium. The musicians played solo cello and cello ensemble music by composers Kaija Saariaho, Magnus Lindberg, Peter Lieberson, Luciano Berio, Elliott Carter and others, conducted by Anssi Karttunen.

Santa Fe celebrates the 400th Anniversary of its founding this year. Reputed to be the third largest art market in America, it attracts sophisticated travelers from around the world. The region is rich with the mix of American, Spanish Colonial and Native American history. Sibelius Academy students and musicians from Finland, together with American collegues, are regularily invited to stay as residence artists at the Acequia Madre House in the heart of Santa Fe. Acequia Madre House is the former home of the Paloheimo family. The family is related to Jean Sibelius, Finland's most famous composer.

The symposium was organized with the generous support of the FSA.

(August, 2009)

Creative Dialogue 2008 in Santa Fe was a great success

Friends of The Sibelius Academy supported a special composing and performing students workshop in Santa Fe, New Mexico on August 1-8, 2008. Highly talented students from America's finest music universities and the Sibelius Academy participated. Altogether 13 students came from University of Minnesota School of Music, the Sibelius Academy, Yale School of Music, University of California, San Diego and New England Conservatory.

They had an extraordinary opportunity to be guided and instructed by the internationally famed Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho and renowned Finnish cellist Anssi Karttunen. In addition to daily workshop sessions and private lessons, participating students will also gave a concert at the internationally famous Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival on August 8th.

This was the first time when Finnish and American composers and musicians gathered to work together in a creative dialogue with each other. The program also included Anssi Karttunen´s recital at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, concert of the workshop participants and Kaija Saariaho´s opera Adriana Mater at the Santa Fe Opera Festival. Kaija Saariaho is one of the most wellknown Finnish composers of today. Anssi Karttunen brought a remarkable international career to this event, and has frequently collaborated with Kaija Saariaho.

Santa Fe is famous for its rich historical and cultural heritage. In addition to its glorious and vast cultural life the Santa Fe experience includes museums, galleries, a world famous opera and chamber music festival. Sibelius Academy students and musicians from Finland together with their American collegues are regularily invited to stay as residence artists at the Acequia Madre House in the heart of Santa Fe.

Creative Dialogue II for cellists will take place on June 2-9, 2009 in Santa Fe.

(February 5, 2009)

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Sibelius Academy Symphony Orchestra received rave reviews in Los Angeles

LA
Photo: Los Angeles Times
 The Sibelius Academy Symphony Orchestra played on Tuesday 23rd of October in Los Angeles at the Walt Disney Concert Hall under the conduction of Esa-Pekka Salonen.

In the repertoire were Chorale by Magnus Lindberg, Lemminkäinen Suite by Jean Sibelius and Sergei Prokofiev's Fifth Piano Concerto, with Juho Pohjonen as the soloist. Sibelius' Valse Triste and Finlandia were played as encores.

The Sibelius Academy Symphony Orchestra visit to LA is supported by The Friends of Sibelius Academy.

A review published in the Los Angeles Times on 25th of October, described the West Coast debut of the Sibelius Academy Symphony Orchestra as striking.

Excerpts from the review written by Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer, follow.

This is not the best moment to show Southern California off to the visiting Finns, but they had little difficulty Tuesday showing themselves off to us. Finland, with 89 music schools for a population of a mere 5 million, can't seem to stop producing major musicians.

We have been reminded of that recently by Karita Mattila's towering Jenufa at Los Angeles Opera, as well as by performances of the music of Salonen, Lindberg and Kaija Saariaho. It can hardly be a coincidence that all four were friends at the Sibelius Academy in the late '70s. Or that conductors, singers and instrumentalists continue to burst from its handsomely designed doors onto the international scene.

That the academy's orchestra is very good is probably not such big news to anyone who has heard the Juilliard Orchestra in New York or the New World Symphony in Miami, let alone the host of first-rate youth bands in Europe and South America.

Still, these energetic Finns seem more serious and more modest than most young musicians. Disney's acoustics are alive, but the balances between sections were never off; the brass didn't blow away the modest-sized string section, as sometimes happens with even professional orchestras new to the hall.

Lindberg toys in his Chorale with sonorities so that the orchestra can seem meaty and weightless at the same time, and in this loving performance, a spiritual aura seemed to hover over the piece.

Juho Pohjonen, a phenomenal 21-year-old Finnish pianist, maximized percussive spunk in the rarely heard Prokofiev's spiky Fifth Piano Concerto. His fingers flew and landed surely, producing a bright, sparkling sound.

The four tone poems that make up the "Lemminkainen" Suite include one of Sibelius' most famous pieces, "The Swan of Tuonela" - an English horn solo over enigmatic chords that the orchestra played with appropriate grace. The unusual grace and suavity that extended to the other, more testosterone-drenched movements might or might not have had something to do with the fact that the orchestra is mostly female.

Sibelius inhabits these kids to their impressive core.

The whole review can be read at The Los Angeles Times' website

(23.10.2007)