Easier said than done. Try and catch up. It’s been pretty busy again.
I played my 450th solo piano improvisation concert in Temppeliaukio Church and received some very nice flowers.
My trio f# (hille-huhtala-ketola) was on tour in Finland with Italian saxophonist Enzo Favata, played at the April Jazz Festival as a trio and at the Tallinn Music Week in Estonia with Ivi Rausi and Laura Põldvere
The Two Moons chamber concert series in Temppeliaukio Church was realized for the third time. Nine wonderful improvisation concerts with wonderful duo partners. Exciting experiences!
For more information about past or upcoming concerts, please visit my gig page.
I visited Sydney, Australia, when a composition of mine was performed there during the World New Music Days 2010. After the concert a journalist from New Zealand asked me where I was from, originally, and I answered that I grew up in a little town in Germany called Donaueschingen. ‘Oh, you’re a lucky man!’, the journalist said. The funny thing is that while I was growing up there, it would have never occurred to me to look at it like that.
In Donaueschingen, you see, there is a legendary festival of contemporary music where many a modern masterpiece has had its first performance. Sitting in those concerts as a teenager, though, the music seemed super weird, as seemed the audience, grey-haired guys studying scores while they were shuffling about our small city, people who had come from far away to listen to this eccentric stuff. I didn’t understand anything of what was going on in that music, I wasn’t a classical guy, normally I was listening to the Beatles and I had just discovered Chick Corea and ECM, but there was something in this contemporary music that I seemed to recognize. It sounded like music I often heard in my dreams, when I slept. When I found Zappa, I saw how these two seemingly separate worlds could be connected. I was fourteen when I heard ‘We’re only in it for the money’ for the first time. And hadn’t also the Beatles already pointed in that same direction with ‘Revolution No. 9’?
Performing at the Donaueschinger Musiktage myself, finally in 2015, felt like a circle coming round. With my Contemporary Collective we managed to create exactly the kind of music I had been pursuing for all these years in between: soundscapes, improvised dialogues between some of my favorite instruments, the bass clarinet, the cello, the electric guitar and my keyboard department, based on a ‘Parameter Chart’ I had devised. With the right kind of musicians and the right kind of chemistry between them, these results can be achieved in improvisation: anything can happen, surprising turns of events, the sense of spontaneity and forward motion, always vibrating with life and the intensity of the present moment.
This is what we are doing nowadays and will be doing also in 2019 with my trio F# and the Hille-Könighofer Experience. These are live music installations, music that can happen only once in exactly the same way.
And this is what I am aiming at in my composed music as well. I would like my composed music to sound like it were improvised, and my improvisations like they were composed. The same intensity, the same spontaneity, the same sense of uniqueness in the present moment – but written down, so that it should be possible also for other musicians to bring this music to life, even if I’m not around myself. This is where the Sid Hille Camerata comes in, a chamber music ensemble performing my compostitions, with a string quartet at its heart. After the success of our CD ‘Farbformen’ (being nominated for ‘Record of the year 2017’ by the national broadcasting corporation YLE and being voted the audience’s favorite), the year 2019 will bring a cooperation with the fantastic mezzo soprano Virpi Räisänen. Virpi commissioned a new piece from me, which I will start working on in February and which is due to be premiered in autumn 2019.
More news from the composer’s shed include a short piece for cello ensemble in January, a solo piece for decacorde (the ten-stringed guitar) sometime later in spring, and the almost finished piece for bass clarinet and chamber ensemble (a tentet with several of my favorite instruments, strings, piano, percussion).
I’m a lucky man, I guess, getting to do exactly what I dreamed of, in those days in Donaueschingen, a long time ago!
At this year’s JazzAhead, SatnaMusic published my latest contribution to the world of intense audiophile experiences, the CD of my new trio f# called ‘the wannsee punk’.
The CD has gathered already several excellent reviews in Finland and I’m hoping the world at large will respond in the same way.
At the JazzAhead trade fair in Bremen, anyhow, the reception was very positive. We had a couple of very good laughs about the cover photo and many people expressed their interest in a band where three acclaimed composers have chosen to leave all written material behind and improvise 100 %.
Our co-operation in the band does seem at times almost telepathic – spontaneous ideas are picked up, responded to and developed in such a coherent way that it makes you wonder (while you play) where all that fantastic stuff is coming from. We certainly didn’t plan it, but maybe having written all those scores in the run of years before does help you on a subconscious level – you just know what to pick up on and you sort of sense where it could be taken to. It’s a fantastic experience for players and audience alike, I can assure you: never knowing what will happen next.
Today we managed to get two videos from the ‘wannsee’-recording session onto SatnaMusic’s video channel. ‘The Scream’ gives you an impression of the uninhibited creative atmosphere while we recorded, ‘Suru’ in its turn might be one of the most beautiful, melancholic atmospheres I have ever captured on a recording.
Farbformen contains my string quartets no.2 & no.3.
In contrast to ‘wannsee’, Farbformen consists entirely of composed music (not taking into account a few bars where I suggested to the players some motives to improvise on), it is contemporary classical music, performed by the most classic of classical instrumentations, the string quartet, but of course there are many elements of jazz and ethnic music in there, too. Have a listen:
So, in case all this caught your interest in any way, you might want to check out some older recordings and projects of mine, too: there’s solo piano recordings, film music, soundscapes, modern jazz, orchestral music… you name it! All recordings are available, just send a message to info[at]satnamusic.fi
I know! Are you kidding me? No updates since March?
Well: Life… you know?
I haven’t been lazy, as you can see in my gig calender.
I’ve been back in Austria to play two gigs with Herbert Könighofer in May and the experience continues when Herby comes back to Finland in the end of November.
In the meantime there are several other projects keeping me busy.
The most time-intensive one is the commission I got from organ virtuoso Susanne Kujala to write a concerto for organ and wind orchestra. Susanne and the Kaartin soittokunta will premiere the piece in August 2018 at Temppeliaukio Church.
In this very same church, by the way, I played my solo piano improvisations today for the 400th time. In August, on the Night of the Arts, I did a multi-instrumental soundscape performance there.
We recorded and filmed the concert.
I haven’t heard or seen the material yet, but if all went well, I might release the concert on DVD. Anyhow, it felt great to play there, with a lovely live sound made by Joonas Saikkonen, with the beautiful new lighting system the church had installed the very same day, and with Sigurdur and Cansu from Hekla Productions filming the whole thing.
So, while spending a lot of time in the workroom now, putting dots on music paper, I once in while take a little break and fiddle with my latest new toy, the Moog Sub37.
I’ll use the Moog (and of course the Rhodes) in our upcoming concerts with the Foreign Friends, so there’s yet another reason to come and check us out (in Pori, Hanko, Juttutupa Helsinki, Turku and at the Tampere Jazz Festival). Great playing, great sounds and a great show.
Barely recovered from Tampere on Nov 3rd, we will get the rare opportunity to perform a film score I composed in 2012 for Saara Cantell’s film ‘Stars above/Tähtitaivas talon yllä’ live, along with the film. This very beautiful film plays in three different time periods in the history of Finland, which is why it is included in the centennial celebrations of Finland’s independence.
If you happen to be in Espoo on November 4th, come to the atmospheric subterranean Kannusali and join us for this exceptional experience.
Heikki Nikula – clarinets
Teemu Viinikainen – guitar
Eija Kankaanranta – kantele
Sid Hille – piano
Ville Herrala – bass
Joonas Riippa – drums
And the year doesn’t end there.
Before Herby joins us in Northern Finland my trio F# will spend a week in Estonia to play four concerts with Estonian vocal improvisers Ivi Rausi and Laura Põldvere.
Sid Hille – keys
Jori Huhtala – bass
Markus Ketola – drums
Check the gig calender to find out when and where things are happening.
Welcome to listen!
What a week!
And what a thrill it was to play!
Six days, six concerts, 2500 kilometers covered.
If you have followed this blog, you might remember how multi-instrumentalist Herbert Könighofer and I met last year in September to play three concerts in Austria.
The Vienna concert can be viewed here on Vimeo:
This time in Finland, we played three gigs as a quartet, Herby joining the Sid Hille Trio F# with bassist Jori Huhtala and drummer Markus Ketola, one as a quintet in Tallinn, Estonia, with the addition of singer Liina Saar, another one as trio, Herby, me and violinist Virpi Taskila and one more as a Duo at the Sara Hildén Art Museum in Tampere.
The wonderful and challenging thing of it was that all the concerts were completely improvised.
One of us would play the first note and we’d take it from there, responding to each other, to the surroundings and the audience.
NOW – and nothing but the present moment!
I’ll post some videos soon.
Before Herby left Finland, we had a little photo session at the villa where Herby had been staying, the Eläintarhan huvila in Helsinki, which is a residence for foreign artists to spend up to two months and get inspired by this country and culture.
Here is another picture from that session:
So, while we’re looking forward to some concerts coming up in Austria this fall and possibly also in Finland again, I got a pretty busy spring here in Helsinki.
First me and my old friend saxophonist Manuel Dunkel will be playing with tap dancers Max Pollack and Jussi Lindroos this week in Turku, then it’s time to get into the composer’s shed to dedicate myself to two commissions for organ pieces and then I’ll be heading to Bremen again for the JazzAhead, meeting ‘the industry’, promoters, agents, musician colleagues…
Things are happening!
And I haven’t even mentioned the new string quartet CD ‘Farbformen’ yet… But I’ll get back to that next time.