The programme of the Musica nova Helsinki contemporary music festival is ready

Musica nova Helsinki, the biggest contemporary music biennial in Finland, can now confirm that the programme includes a visit by Helmut Lachenmann, one of the most significant living composers of contemporary music, a discussion programme and several other additions. The festival programme is ready, and tickets to all the performances are now on sale.

The programme of the Musica nova Helsinki festival, organised at event venues and concert halls in Helsinki and Espoo on 1–12 March, brings Finnish and international works and artists together in surprising ways. Each concert and performance of the 2023 programme is linked to the festival’s theme of Emotions and Sensations, inspired by the festival’s Artistic Director, soprano Tuuli Lindeberg.

In addition to the festival’s already released events, such as Klangforum Wien’s concert, the world premiere of where the dark earth bends, a concerto by the festival’s resident composer Clara Iannotta, and visits from Juliet Fraser, Alexander Schubert and Tomomi Adachi, among others, the programme now includes other interesting performances and visits, a discussion programme as well as educational joint productions with the Sibelius Academy.

Among the most significant additions to the programme is the arrival of the award-winning German composer Helmut Lachenmann in Helsinki. Members of the Klangforum Wien orchestra together with the Sibelius Academy’s student group NYKY Ensemble will perform one of Lachenmann’s most significant compositions of the 21st century, Concertini, which has previously not been played in Finland. The audience can also hear the thoughts of the composer at an interview-form lecture event organised by the Sibelius Academy.

Musica nova also showcases other contemporary music productions by Sibelius Academy students. These include, for example, new chamber music pieces by composition students, a listening room created by students of music technology, in which the voice of Tuuli Lindeberg is present in an exciting way, as well as a ‘Soiva kieli’ lied concert with the theme The Six Senses by students of vocal arts and piano.

Interesting highlights from the festival programme include, for example, Alexander Schubert’s interactive virtual performance installation Unity Switch, Juliet Fraser’s recital Wave Songs, exploring the possibilities of combining singing and electronics; the sci-fi opera Posthuman, produced by the Finnish Chamber Opera and set on a virtual stage; Tomomi Adachi’s Hietsu is Happening performance that utilises body sensors, as well as a meditative performance by the Finnish group Band of Weeds, which turns the electromagnetism of plants of the Helsinki archipelago – their feelings – into music.

For those interested in contemporary art music, this year’s Musica nova offers a unique glimpse into the active field of freelance contemporary music in South Finland. The programme includes performances by, for example, the Hietsu is Happening collective, Zagros Ensemble, Uusinta Ensemble, Earth Ears Ensemble and CHANGEnsemble as well as the Finnish Chamber Opera and Helsinki Chamber Choir. Some of the festival’s concerts are also part of seasonal concert series, such as the choral music concert season and the Klang concert series.

The festival’s discussion programme includes, for example, the Miten sävellystilaukset syntyvät? discussion event on the creation of commissioned works, organised in co-operation with Teosto, as well as a public event as part of the Musiikkitalo’s Tunne orkesterisi lecture series, exploring the different emotional and sensory experiences of a music piece’s composer, performer and listener.

The festival kicks off with the Nova Connection club at G Livelab on Wednesday, 1 March, the programme of which is built around the new Northern Connection project. The project includes orchestras, festivals and composers from Scotland, Norway and Finland and aims to promote Northern art music co-operation in an ecological manner. The performers at the club include the electroacoustic group defunensemble as well as Ilpo Väisänen, the rarely-performing, internationally best known Finnish maker of experimental electronic music.

Concert tickets are being sold through the concert venues’ ticket sales channels, at and Tickets starting from €0–53. The main organisers of the biennial festival are Helsinki Festival, Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, Tapiola Sinfonietta, Finnish National Opera and Ballet, Yle (Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra) and the Society of Finnish Composers.

Image: Martti Jämsä