Outi Tarkiainen

b. 1985

Finnish

Summary

Outi Tarkianen was born in Rovaniemi in Finnish Lapland, a place that has proved a constant source of inspiration for her. She has long been drawn to the expressive power of the human voice, but has written vocal, chamber and solo instrumental works as well as works for orchestra and soloist. ‘I see music as a force of nature that can flood over a person and even change entire destinies’, she once said.

Outi has been commissioned by orchestras including the San Francisco Symphony, BBC Symphony, BBC Philharmonic, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic and Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestras and her music has been taken up by the symphony orchestras of St Louis, Detroit and Houston, among others. Her early work with jazz orchestras culminated in Into the Woodland Silence (2013), a score that combined the composer’s sense of natural mysticism with the distinctive textures of the jazz orchestra tradition. Major works since include an orchestral song cycle to texts by Sami poets The Earth, Spring’s Daughter (2015), the saxophone concerto Saivo (2016, nominated for the Nordic Council Music Prize) and Midnight Sun Variations premiered at the BBC Proms in 2019 (nominated for the Fondation Prince Pierre de Monaco’s Musical Composition Prize). Her first full-length opera, A Room of One’s Own (2021), was commissioned and premiered by Theater Hagen in Germany.

Outi studied composition at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, the Guildhall School in London and at the University of Miami. She as been composer in residence at the Festival de Musique Classique d’Uzerche in France and was for four years co-artistic director of the Silence Festival in Lapland. 

Andrew Mellor, 2021

    

Critical Acclaim

Our fastest-rising contemporary composer -Kare Eskola, Finnish Broadcasting Company 

The extreme quiet of the forest is perhaps the most beautiful silence there is. Sibelius knew that, and so does the ever fascinating Finnish composer Outi Tarkiainen, whose fusion of silence and music, as well as jazz and classical idioms, draws on her Lapland roots and on the mystery and melancholy of life in the north - Andrew Mellor, Gramophone 

The classical canon isnt replete with works about childbirth, probably for obvious reasons. So a welcome dawn shone on Outi Tarkiainens Midnight Sun Variations, inspired by the birth of the composers son. The piece is about light too: Tarkiainen lives in a remote village in Finnish Lapland and she was also inspired by the Arctic night when she went into labour, the last of the bright summer days fading to an autumn mist. Its very beautiful, chains of shimmering percussion setting off a kind of twinkling relay contest, before bigger, thicker lines are drawn by the strings, pulsing almost like a Steve Reich soundscape. The expressive energy of the piece hides its intricate effects: Tarkiainen doesnt get bogged down by details and her voice comes through strongly. - The Times 2019

Biography

Outi Tarkiainen is one of a new generation of composers whose work bears witness to the world around it and whose music engages audiences while advancing the art form without compromise. ‘I see music as a force of nature that can flood over a person and even change entire destinies,’ Outi has said.

Outi was born in Rovaniemi in Finnish Lapland, a location that has proved a constant source of inspiration for her. She studied composition at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki with Eero Hämeenniemi and Veli-Matti Puumala, at the University of Miami with Ron Miller and at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London with Malcolm Singer.

Since her student days, Outi has been drawn to the expressive power and natural truths of the human voice. In September 2016, the Lapland Chamber Orchestra, conductor John Storgårds and mezzo-soprano Virpi Räisänen gave the first performance of her orchestral song cycle to texts by Sami poets entitled The Earth, Spring’s Daughter (2015). The work’s structural finesse underlined the composer’s handling of large-scale forms while its pained lyricism revealed both her strong feelings about Sami emancipation and her love for the music of Alban Berg. May 2022 sees the world premiere of her first opera, commissioned and staged by Theater Hagen. A Room of One’s Own is based on the essay by Virginia Woolf and forms the latest in a series of works exploring womanhood, which also include the orchestral meditation on natural phenomena including childbirth, The Ring of Fire and Love (2020).

After making her name as a composer-conductor with some of Europe’s leading jazz orchestras, Outi collaborated with the Finnish vocalist Aili Ikonen on a series of jazz orchestra works including Into the Woodland Silence (2013), a score that combined the composer’s sense of natural mysticism with the distinctive textures of the jazz orchestra tradition. In the 2010s, she worked with some of Europe’s leading jazz orchestras including the Norbotten Big Band, Umo Jazz Orchestra, Metropole Orchestra and the Slovenian Radio Big Band, all having won First Prize in the 2008 International Jazzverk Big Band Composition Competition with her piece Oglütz.

More recently, Outi has been commissioned by ensembles including the BBC Philharmonic, BBC Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, National Arts Center Orchestra, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, Finnish Radio Symphony and Iceland Symphony Orchestras while her works have been taken up by the St Louis Symphony, Detroit Symphony, Hagen Philharmonic, Houston Symphony and Vienna Tönkunstler. Her intense connection to the northernmost reaches of Finland was adumbrated in Songs of the Ice (2019) and its sister piece Midnight Sun Variations, the latter premiered at the BBC Proms in 2019 and subsequently performed around the world. The piece was nominated for the Fondation Prince Pierre de Monaco’s Musical Composition Prize.

Outi has composed vocal, chamber and solo instrumental works as well as works for orchestra and soloist. Her saxophone concerto Saivo (2016), written for the saxophonist Jukka Perko, explores ideas of duality and illusion in both the saxophone and in concerto form itself. It was nominated for the Nordic Council Music Prize in 2018 and later issued on record, alongside The Earth, Spring’s Daughter, by Ondine.

 

Outi has worked with some of the most distinguished conductors and musicians in Europe and America and has been composer-in-residence at the Festival de Musique Classique d’Uzerche in France. Her heart, however, remains in the north. ‘I have a fundamental longing for the northernmost regions within me,’ she has said. She has been co-artistic director of the annual Silence Festival in Lapland and for a time lived in the far northern town of Ivalo, 300km north of Rovaniemi. The wilderness of Europe’s northernmost reaches continues to find expression in her music’s engrossing combination of beauty and brutality, of richness and sparseness. 

Andrew Mellor, 2021

 

News

Performances

28th November 2021

SOLOISTS
Pekka Kuusisto, violin/live electronics
PERFORMERS
Philharmonia Orchestra
LOCATION
Purcell Room, London, United Kingdom

6th December 2021

PERFORMERS
Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra
CONDUCTOR
Emilia Hoving
LOCATION
Tampere Hall, Tampere, Finland

2nd March 2022

PERFORMERS
Oulu Symphony Orchestra
CONDUCTOR
Jukka Untamala
LOCATION
Madetoja Hall, Oulu, Finland

16th March 2022

PERFORMERS
Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra
CONDUCTOR
David Afkham
LOCATION
Konserthuset, Stockholm, Sweden

17th March 2022

PERFORMERS
Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra
CONDUCTOR
David Afkham
LOCATION
Konserthuset, Stockholm, Sweden

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