One of the world’s leading contemporary music groups, London Sinfonietta, brings to Viitasaari Hans Werner Henze’s masterpiece Voices, to be heard for the first time in Finland. The theme of the Time of Music festival 2023, “Voices & Spaces”, is also connected to contemporary and socially aware new voices and questions: this perspective led to six new commissions which will be performed in between Henze’s songs as part of the Sounds Now project.
Voices is a 22-part song cycle which includes texts of writers such as Bertolt Brecht, Heinrich Heine, Ho-Chi Minh and several Cuban and Afro American poets. The songs have a strong social content, and they deal with many permanently valid themes, such as oppression and alienation. The multilingual piece includes songs in German, English, Spanish and Italian. The variety of instruments is also exceptionally wide: London Sinfonietta’s musicians will play as many as 70 different instruments, from flutes to banjos and accordions, and the piece also involves electronics.
Henze’s work will be commented by six new commissions, whose composers are American Tyshawn Sorey, also known as a multi-instrumentalist, Ukrainian Anna Korsun, British-Rwandan Tanya Auclair, Swiss-Nigerian Charles Uzor, Finnish Riikka Talvitie and British Mariam Rezaei. The premieres will be performed between parts of Voices, and their topics also relate to current social issues. These works are a part of Sounds Now and were commissioned in collaboration with the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival. London Sinfonietta will perform them later at Huddersfield and London’s South Bank Centre.
To accompany her commission, Riika Talvitie has written an article related to her piece, Green Tress. She writes: “The article is an essential part of the piece Green Tress performed during Time of Music in Viitasaari. Only these two elements together can constitute a political act.” You can read the text on her website, here.
The first part of the Voices project will be heard in the opening concert at Viitasaari Areena on Tuesday 4th of July at 7 p.m. Before the concert, a seminar will be organized at the Viitasaari town hall with visiting speakers including e.g. Riikka Talvitie and Marita Muukkonen, founder of the Artists at Risk organization. The second part of Voices will be performed at Areena on Wednesday 5th of July at 7 p.m.