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 and to which she has recently returned to live. She has long been drawn to the expressive power of the human voice, but in addition to song cycles and operas, has written chamber and solo instrumental works as well as symphonic poems and concertos. ‘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 ensembles including the BBC Symphony, Scottish Symphony and Philharmonic orchestras, the San Francisco, Gothenburg, Finnish Radio and Netherlands Symphony Orchestras, the Royal Stockholm and Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestras and the National Arts Center Orchestra while her works have been taken up by flagship orchestras from Boston to Vienna. 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), concertos for saxophone (2016) and cor anglais (2022), the symphonic poems Midnight Sun Variations (2019), Songs of the Ice (2019), and The Ring of Fire and Love (2020), all recorded for Ondine. 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 was for four years co-artistic director of the Silence Festival in Lapland, has twice been nominated for the Fondation Prince Pierre de Monaco’s Musical Composition Prize. In 2023, she won Finland’s Music Publishers’ Award. 

Andrew Mellor, 2024

 

Podcast: Composing Myself - Wise Music Group’s CEO Dave Holley and Creative Director Gill Graham chat to Outi Tarkiainen

    

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 and to which she has recently returned to live. 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 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 her strong feelings about Sami emancipation and her love for the music of Alban Berg. May 2022 saw the world premiere of Outi’s 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. 

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 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 Symphony, Scottish Symphony and Philharmonic orchestras, the San Francisco, Gothenburg, Finnish Radio and Netherlands Symphony Orchestras, the Royal Stockholm and Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestras and the National Arts Center Orchestra while her works have been taken up by the Boston, Detroit, Atlanta and Houston Symphony Orchestras and the Hagen Philharmonic, Vienna Tönkunstler and Minnesota Orchestras.  

Outi’s intense connection to the northernmost reaches of Finland was adumbrated in Songs of the Ice (2019) and its sister piece Midnight Sun Variations (2019), the latter premiered at the BBC Proms in 2019 and subsequently performed around the world. The two works, together with two meditations on motherhood, the cor anglais concerto for Nicholas Daniel, Milky Ways (2022) and the orchestral work The Ring of Fire and Love (2020), were included on an album recorded by the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra released in February 2024. The latter score was nominated for the Fondation Prince Pierre de Monaco’s Musical Composition Prize while Milky Ways won the 2023 Music Publishers’ Award in Finland. 

Milky Ways extended Outi’s work in concertante music for wind instruments following Saivo (2016), written for the saxophonist Jukka Perko, which explores ideas of duality and illusion in both the saxophone and concerto form itself. It was nominated for the Nordic Council Music Prize in 2018 and also 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, 2024

 

News

Performances

29th February 2024

PERFORMERS
Boston Symphony Orchestra
CONDUCTOR
John Storgårds
LOCATION
Symphony Hall, Boston, MA, United States of America

1st March 2024

PERFORMERS
Boston Symphony Orchestra
CONDUCTOR
John Storgårds
LOCATION
Symphony Hall, Boston, MA, United States of America

2nd March 2024

PERFORMERS
Boston Symphony Orchestra
CONDUCTOR
John Storgårds
LOCATION
Symphony Hall, Boston, MA, United States of America

4th May 2024

PERFORMERS
Lapland Chamber Orchestra
CONDUCTOR
John Storgårds
LOCATION
Konserthaus, Klagenfurt, Austria

10th May 2024

PERFORMERS
Oulu Symphony Orchestra
CONDUCTOR
Rumon Gamba
LOCATION
Madetoja Concert Hall, Oulu, Finland

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Discography