For more than a year I have wanted to write about Kaija Saariaho, a contemporary Finnish composer. My reverence for living composers made me hesitate initially. But I did it anyway and actually, it was fun. Saariaho was born in 1952 and studied at the Institut de Recherche et de Coordination Acoustique/Musique (IRCAM), a research institute founded by Pierre Boulez to promote musical and acoustical studies. IRCAM was and still is an incubator for many modern compositions.
A few hours before I started to write this post, the death of Pierre Boulez made the headlines. A controversial person, if I trust my Twitter timeline. Was he the chief representative of contemporary classical music? Of French contemporary classical music? A polemic person and a conductor with too much political influence? As a matter of fact, I am not sure that these questions matter. Music matters.
Shocked, No. Amused? Definitely. Yesterday evening the Cleveland Orchestra under Franz Welser-Möst performed Olivier Messiaen’s piece “Chronochromie” in Luxembourg. Those 25 minutes were an interesting sound experiment and an excellent prelude to Richard Strauss’ symphonic poem op. 64 “Alpensinfonie” that was to follow after the pause.
Tonight and tomorrow night, I will have the privilege to assist to performances of “Seven Towers” – a new piece written by the Swiss composer Cécile Marti. Part 1 will be played on two evenings at the casino in Berne by the Berner Symphonieorchester. Part 6 has premiered in Geneva on September 17 performed by the Geneva Camerata. “Seven Towers” is an 80 minutes long concert cycle and the result of Cécile Marti’s composing research project at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. It started in September 2012 and is about to come to its end. I interviewed Cécile Marti about her work, about contemporary classical music and how to make it accessible to a broader public. Continue reading!