Dear friends and followers of Musica nova Helsinki,
It’s such a strange and challenging moment to introduce and hold a music festival, yet I’m incredibly proud of the fact that we will have a festival. We must and will celebrate Musica nova as a unique collaboration between so many organisations in musical Helsinki, organisations whose extraordinary effort to deliver their projects and concerts in some form, has made this possible. That I can write to you and invite you on this journey, both in person and through the various online and broadcasting media, is not least thanks to our main organisers and partners and producer Heidi Kuusava’s calm and tireless resolve.
A contemporary music festival should always ask questions about and represent not only the presence but also the future of music and music performance. Urgent themes indeed! Our thinking about this aspect has found some inspiration in the personality and concepts of one of the most influential 20th century composers Iannis Xenakis who was also an architect and mathematician. He taught us to contextualise arts and music in particular in a much broader perspective.
Current restrictions have made it impossible to perform some of his major, often large-scale works. But our tribute to Xenakis was always going to be more about his influence and thinking, and what we can learn from it still and especially today. So our central project of Helsinki Polytopes is an updated version of Xenakis pioneering, multi-media Polytopes concepts. Mentored by Tuomas Toivonen, young Finnish composers have been ‘matched’ with architects and designers to create projects that you will be able to experience in person due to their covid-proof forms.
Many other concerts and events of this year’s Musica nova can be seen as a series of ‘Polytopes’, for example our featured composer Simon Steen-Andersen’s audio-visual exploration of Oodi library. All our orchestral concerts feature works which in itself create virtual spaces outside the purely musical material, be it through film or imagination. We open the festival with Liza Lim’s very recent masterwork Extinction Events and Dawn Chorus which is theatrical and environmentally informed. We introduce Swedish composer Lisa Streich to Finnish audiences, a highly original voice to emerge in the last few years who has made her mark in the contemporary music scene.
Musical works and festivals should have a legacy and make a lasting impression. I’m very glad to say that through the support of the Helsinki Events Foundation and our ‘big sister’, the Helsinki Festival, in particular through Marko Ahtisaari’s close collaboration and help, some works and performances that have been made impossible to show due to Covid, may be developed further or happen later this year. Nothing will get lost, this festival and it’s legacy is our contribution to the idea of ‘sustainability’ in the music industry and what’s more, the ‘essential’ character of arts in dark times.
André de Ridder
The artistic director of Musica nova
Photo: Marco Borggreve