Kaija Saariaho wins the 2003 Grawemeyer Award

LONDON —Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho (Kà-ya Sà-re-a-ho) has been awarded the $200,000 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition 2003 for her opera “L`amour de loin,” (Love from afar). The opera received its premiere in Salzburg in 2000 and is based on the story of the distant love of a twelfth century troubadour for a countess whom he has never met.

On receiving the news of the award Saariaho said:

“I am very happy to receive the Grawemeyer Award. I feel honoured and very lucky to have been chosen for such a prestigious award and it is an extremely important recognition for my work. It will also help me to continue my work as a composer in good conditions. Receiving the award for my opera L'amour de loin is significant to me because with this work I stepped into a new territory, and my life and music has not been the same since. I have discovered the opera world, with all its splendour and drama, from the inside. L'amour de loin gave me the opportunity to collaborate with many exceptional people. The first person who believed in this project and helped me to realize it was Gerard Mortier, who commissioned the opera and helped me to find all the participants as the work progressed over the years. I have had a chance to work with such special artists as Amin Maalouf who wrote the libretto, Peter Sellars who directed it, the singer Dawn Upshaw and others too many to mention here. They all made it possible to realise the opera, and were at the front of my mind when I got the fantastic news that I am to be presented with the Grawemeyer Award.”

About L’amour de loin, Dr. Paul Brink, coordinator of the Grawemeyer award for music composition said:

“Any work that wins the Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition must be technically competent, innovative, esthetically pleasing and accessible to the listener. “L’amour de loin by Kaija Saariaho meets all these criteria at a higher level than any other work submitted for the 2003 award”

At 50, Saariaho has been honored with many commissions and awards. Saariaho studied composition at the Sibelius Academy and at the Musickhochschule in Freiburg, receiving her diploma in 1983. In 1982 she attended courses in computer music at IRCAM in Paris. Since then, the computer has been an important element of her composing technique. Saariaho’s music is published exclusively by Chester Music Ltd and Editions Wilhelm Hansen, divisions of the Music Sales Group of companies. Saariaho joins six other composers also represented by the Music Sales Group and who have won the Grawemeyer Award: Witold Lutoslawski; Joan Tower; John Corigliano; Karel Husa; Simon Bainbridge and Tan Dun..

… for further information on the music of Kaija Saariaho, please visit www.chesternovello.com or contact Gill Graham, Head of Promotion, Chester Music Ltd., telephone +44 20 7432 4238, fax +44 20 7287 6329, email: gill.graham@musicsales.co.uk

Notes for editors

Kaija Saariaho (1952- )
The Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho has lived and worked in Paris since 1982. She studied composition under Paavo Heininen at the Sibelius Academy and later at the Musikhochschule in Freiburg with Brian Ferneyhough and Klaus Huber, receiving her diploma there in 1983. In 1982 she attended courses in computer music at IRCAM in Paris, since then the computer has been an important element of her composing technique.

Recent works include: a violin concerto, Graal Théâtre, for Gidon Kremer; two pieces for Dawn Upshaw - an orchestral song cycle, Château de l'âme, and a solo song cycle Lonh for soprano and electronics. In 1999 Saariaho completed a major work for chorus and orchestra,Oltra mar, which was premiered by the New York Philharmonic and Kurt Masur on 11th November 1999.

These last three projects point to Kaija Saariaho's first opera, L'amour de loin. A co-commission from the Salzburg Festival, Théâtre du Châtelet and Santa Fe Opera, L'amour de loin is based on "La Vida breve" of Jaufre Rudel, Prince of Blaye, one of the first great troubadours of the 12th century. The libretto is by the French-Lebanese author Amin Maalouf and the premiere was given in August 2000 at the Salzburg Festival, directed by Peter Sellars and conducted by Kent Nagano.The production has been staged at the Théâtre du Châtelet and Santa Fe Opera and a new production has been given at Stadttheater Bern at the end of 2001. The German premiere will be given at the Staatstheater Darmstadt in April 2003. In January 2003 The Cleveland Orchestra will premiere her new orchestral work Orion with Franz Welser-Möst. Saariaho's music is available on the Finlandia, Ondine, SONY, Wergo, Neuma, BIS and naïve record labels. (Sep 2002)


The Grawemeyer Award

The late Charles Grawemeyer was an industrialist, entrepreneur and University of Louisville graduate who had a life-long passion for music, education and religious studies. The prize for music, the world’s top international prize for composition, was the first established in 1985. The Grawemeyer Foundation at the University of Louisville awards one million dollars each year--$200,000 each for music composition, education, ideas improving world order, religion and psychology. An initial endowment of $9 million funded the awards. The selection process is conducted in three phases, which includes a jury of professionals from each discipline and a knowledgeable lay panel.

Grawemeyer Award

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