André dе Ridder on curating Musica Nova-2021: challenges, collaborations, and Polytopes

André dе Ridder on curating Musica Nova-2021: challenges, collaborations, and Polytopes

It is the third Musica Nova Festival for its Artistic Director André de Ridder, a specialist in contemporary music who once in two years brings international contempory composers to Helsinki and works with its local musical institutions (three orchestras, an opera house, several smaller ensembles) to present the best talents in the country. The festival has always been open to innovation and experimentation, but this year everyone had to be twice as flexible as usual. 2021 has been the most challenging one, as some events had to be cancelled, while all others have restrictions on audience numbers. There is always a silver lining, and for international music lovers out of Helsinki this edition of Musica Nova presents a unique opportunity to follow it online. Please look out for the links to paritcular events scattered in this talk with André de Ridder.

André, could you, please, briefly give an overview of your path as a conductor  and as an artistic director of different projects. How did you find this balance that you have now? How did your life lead you to contemporary classical music?

 When I was a teenager and learned the violin and piano I had a period when I had to change my technique on the violin and I couldn’t really play any proper music for half a year and that was the time when I got into composition, I was about 15. I wanted to explore a creative vibe, a wish to make music. And that got me interested in contemporary music, studying contemporary composers and important 20-century composers. So that is how it started. I went back into playing the violin and I played in youth orchestras and that got me interested in conducting. I was always experiencing other colleagues conducting and I would sometimes take over rehearsals for them, but, you know, I also come from a music background: my dad was an opera conductor, my mom is a soprano. They met in the opera house and I grew up in the orchestra pit really. Those were the three pillars of my music education, with my continuous interest in contemporary music – not only classical, as I also grew up listening to pop and electronic music.

On the other hand my dad, he was … not conservative, but he was taught within the old school, he was more into German romantic repertoire. I also had a background in that area, I grew up with love for that music and the great interpreters like Klemperer, Erich Kleiber and so on. So, it was quite mixed musical upbringing in a way, and I think that still shows today in what I’m doing. I first did Tonmeister in Berlin which is sort classical producing and sound engineering thing. I started my own group already back then in Berlin and then I went to Vienna and London to study conducting finally. And then I started working with orchestras there: on the one hand, I had this sort of assistant conductor jobs with big orchestras like in Bournemouth where I was also assisting Yakov Kreizberg, it was a big influence on me at the Komische Oper in Berlin when I grew up in Berlin and I then met him again as a mentor which was wonderful. I worked also with Marin Alsop who became a chief conductor and also the Hallé orchestra in Manchester with Mark Elder as my boss, and I did some operas with him too. This was also a certain influence on me: operatic repertouire and similar undertakings. At the same time I was always involved with composers and interested in modern music scene. A lot of my first professional engagements outside these assistant or associate conductorships were with the orchestras like London Sinfonietta and other new music groups that I worked with early on, like musikFabrik in Germany.

That was the first thing. And then I have a passion for programming in general – making interesting connections in programs, discovering things, connecting the old and the new. And I guess that influenced my passion for curating concerts but also events and festivals and when I had a chance. I think it was 2012 when I founded my own group: an ensemble or rather an orchestra collective called StarGaze operating out of Berlin and Amsterdam. We actually initiated and curated new projects and collaborations in contemporary music, but with a genre crossing attitude. We made applications in Berlin, we were successful and we had 2-3 days festivals in Berlin at the Volksbuhne in Berlin and there were in different genres, next to each other, under certain themes. I think that’s how people first got aware of me as a festival curator. Actually, out of that came both the interest from Musica Nova Helsinki – as the previous director of Helsinki festival Topi Lehtipuu attended one of the festivals in Berlin –  and also for the Spitalfields festival in London. The Spitalfields has concerts of very old repertoire – Renaissance and Baroque music and period performances, but they also commission new works and are very engaged in educational work, so that was pefect link for me too, I did that for 2 years. And the same time I had been developing my conducting work and career in different places like America or Australia, where I covered a lot of the classical and German romantic repertoire which I also have a great passion for.

The Barbican centre and Southbank in London have also been very important places and supporters because they also produce new projects and commission interesting premiers. I worked there a lot. I don’t know if you heard about the Unclassified Live series which is based on the radio programs that Elizabeth Alker presents on BBC Radio 3. I suggested to her to make a live version of it and the Southbank loved this idea and BBC also, and BBC Concert Orchestra came on board. You know, this is something where I can go to the Southern and the Barbican and suggest something, they are very open to this kinda thing and now we made concert series Unclassified Live at the Southbank, seems we’ve done this for two years but we only have one concert because of this pandemic situation, you know that. The following concerts have been cancelled, we’ve just had a call about when we think we can pick up the work again, it very promising concert series as I think.

Andre de Ridder conductor
Photo: Marco Borggreve

Can you say a few words about to what extent venues and institutions in cities like Berlin, Helsinki, London are open to contemporary classical music agenda and to what extent they still have some hesitations about programming it. Are they really the centres of innovation or you still have to persuade them to programme new music?

All of these metropolitan centres are open to new people and programs, and they have the resources to do projects and commission something new, but there are also very conservative forces involved. They have big concert halls and big orchestras, they need to bring in the audiences that maybe react more favourably to more mainstream repertoire. I tend to think that innovation happens in different centers and sometimes a bit away from the main cultural hubs, but then again I find that in London, these places that I mentioned, they have their own contemporary music programmers they tend to work with. And that includes not just classic contemporary music, but they actually have contemporary music as everything else, as well. It can be avant-garde, pop or electronic music, or jazz. And there might be a classical producer, and they work together very closely, and so interesting things happen. I have no actually experienced that kind of thing other so much in Berlin or Helsinki – you know, the fact that a hall has an independent artistic director or programming, as they are very much in the hands of the orchestras and they have their own agendas. But of course in Helsinki and in Finland generally, contemporary music scene is very strong and the orchestras program contemporary music all the time, for almost every concert. This is something you don’t get in Berlin.

And you also don’t get it in London with the big orchestras. They do not program contemporary music in every concert, they are far from it. Here in Helsinki that’s really case, and they pick up young composers very early and give them commissions, so the connection between the grassroots scene in Helsinki and the mainstream organizations is great. I think in Berlin that’s really a little bit more disconnected. In Berlin you have more really subcultural special scenes, with people doing their own thing and DIY composers in existence, but there is no real connection to the mainstream organizations whatsoever. And in Helsinki it’s really different, and I love that. In London it’s a little bit in between. There is a good connection between the grassroots scene and organizations as far as the venues are concerned, like venues have artistic programs that are slightly adventurous but bigger orchestra organizations have to be a bit more conservative, as they rely on ticket income. So if you have more public and state support, you can take greater risks, and if you rely on ticket income, then you have to look at the mainstream much more in your programming.

Before we turn to the Musica Nova Festival, I want to ask you another question. How do you gain the general knowledge and awareness of contemporary composers who are working in the field already, who have recently written something new or who have emerged on the scene during the year or who might be potentially big stars in future? How do you keep track of all of them?

 That’s a good question. I mean nowadays people have to travel a lot and go to different contemporary music festivals all over the world to find new things. Nowadays of course it’s so much easier. I do travel a lot, but as a conductor I don’t have enough time. I would love to spend much more time going to concerts and other festivals to discover new voices. But I can’t do that. But nowadays of course luckily we have the internet, and you may like it or not – things like Twitter –  but I think contemporary classical music Twitter is very informative. There are also a lot of interesting blogs by interesting writers. There are also all these links to YouTube where you hear recent performances of the works. There are few websites with certain publications we read regularly and there are always hints to new works by new composers we haven’t heard of. So I do use the internet as a source for that exploration.

Do you build relationships and connections with some particular modern composers? I would guess it would be Kaija Saariaho? Could you name those who have been your long-term collaborators?

 Well, there are a few composers I have relationshhip with. I have worked for many years With Kaija of course. I premiered one of her recent music theatre pieces – operas – in Amsterdam, in Helsinki, Only the Sound Remains. Of course in similar way Michel van der Aa, with whom I’ve done quite a lot of work and we talk a lot and we always check out his new work. I premiered his first opera the Sunken Garden. I’m also very close to Bryce Dessner, I guess I was one of the first conductors who conducted his orchestra repertoire quite a lot. We also recorded his debut album on Deutsche Grammophone which included a few of his early orchestra works and also Jonny Greenwood piece, There Will Be Blood. Yeah, I am always in contact with him and he is also somebody who always promotes other composers’ music, and I find out about it through him. Also, Qasim Naqvi who used to be actually a drummer in Dawn of Midi. Similarly with Greg Saunier who is actually also a drummer in his everyday life. They’re developing very interesting composer careers, very much in their own way, they have not really got there through the academic path. I want to mention Tyondai Braxton as well, who was commissioned by Musica Nova last time 2 years ago. So, there are quite a few. I like these sort of relationships and then to accompany along their career, their writing trajectory and to encourage them to do different things, new things. So that are the names that come immediately to my mind. You know, Anna Meredith who has become quite popular as an electronic musician with her band and with her records, but she is a classical composer and she started out as a classical composer.  She was my first composer in residence in my first orchestra in the Midlands, the Sinfonia Viva. In fact, we commissioned the piece we are going to play with Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra next Thursday – Four Tributes to 4am. We’ve done several projects together, I also premierd her Beatbox Concerto which was also quite an unusual work. Also Daniel Bjarnasson – he belongs to similar generation, just a bit younger than me, but I sort of feel that I have been growing up with him and knowing his early work. It is a closely-knit community, and Daniel is doing fantastically well.

NYKY Ensemble (Sibelius Academy) opened the Festival on 2 February 2021 playing Liza Lim’s Extinction Events and Dawn Chorus. Click on the picture to listen to the concert

Could you describe the Festival Musica Nova to people who have not heard about it before? What were its audiences, how did the Festival run in the normal times – say, in 2019?

 Well, for the people who do not know Musica Nova, the main that I would say… it happens every two years… it is a biannual festival. It is a rather large festival, runs for about nine to ten days normally, over two weekends, and the main thing about it is that it is made up of a commitee of so called organizers – the main organizers – who are basically all the orchestras and ensembles, and the Finnish Opera House, and the radio broadcast station Yle, and the Composers’ Association of Finland. They all contribute to the Festival financially but also with their productions. It is good because everyone sits around the table every two months, meets up and we are making the program together, and everyone contributes and has an engagement in it. And I think that is the difference if we take many other festivals. It is a real collaboration between different institutions. So you get the shape of the festival that includes at least three orchestral concerts, all the independent ensembles do their concerts, the Opera puts on a production. Unfortunately this year because of the pandemic it had to be cancelled, but in my first year the Opera, in fact, brought the Michel va der Aa’s Blank Out – his latest 3D film-opera, so that was a highlight in 2017. In 2019 we had a big premiere by Tyondai Braxton, substantial piece of a fourty minutes. We had also two other composers in focus: had Bryce Dessner and Anna Thorvaldsdottir who at the time, two years ago, was fairly new to the audience here in Finland, and we had therefore quite a few premieres of her works: Finnish, or Nordic premieres of her works in Helsinki. That is what we tried to do in the previous festivals, in 2017 and 2019, even though the contemporary music scene and audiences here are so strong here they might also be some composers who had achieved international breakthroughs who have not been to Helsinki before. This year it is Lisa Streich whom I would like to introduce to the audiences. We also tried in both 2017 and 2019 to have some electronic musicians who are really interested to engage and collaborate with other composers or with more avantgarde material, to come and play and present their work. So that, for me, is the realm of contemporary music as a much more broader spectrum than you would maybe get at some other hard-liner classical contemporary music festivals.

Lisa Streich. Picture by Manu Theobald

In a way, paradoxically, you would get a lot of international audience this year, if you count the viewers of streams in…

 I know! There is always a sunny side to certain restrictions. And in this case, as it has been the case during the last year, we have been able to watch more concerts online than we would ever be able to go to in person. Obviously there is a limit to how many streamed concerts you can stomach, and then the desire to attend a live concert gets too big, but, as I said, it is extremely informative to have these live streams and new works, new interpretations at the tip of your finger. So I see that as a positive development.

 Could you outline the works that would be performed this year?

 In each of my festivals we a really important 20th century figure as a guiding spirit, as a focus. One year it was Grisey, one year it was Ligety, and this year that is Xenakis. We had planned two bigger orchestral works by him like Methasthasis, even Jonchaies. I was going to do Jonchaies, his big orchestral piece, but we have a maximum of 45 to 50 musicians on stage now, so we had to change the program. I introduced Varèse rather than Xenakis because of our theme of Polytopes and the connection of architecture and music and visual and multimedia layers. Varèse seemed to me very much a precursor of the same visionary spirit that Xenakis would represent, you know, but 20 years later, so I programmed Deserts by Varèse. And as I said, it is not that we wanted to build a monument to Xenakis but we wanted to think about his vision that can still inspire us today. And that is how we started this series of Helsinki Polytopes which are new works inspired by his idea of Polytopes, but very much updated, very much interpreted, by young composers and architects of our time and Finnish musicians and architects. This is what I find interesting about looking at these most influential figures in art generally – what is that concept today, and how is it inspiring for new generations of artists and composers.

Iannis Xenakis. Picture by M.Daniel

When you say a Polytope, is it something that does not strictly belong to one genre, or to one place?

It could have all these meanings, of course, and you can say that Musica Nova itself is a Polytope, because it has many topics and many organizations who build something together. I call it – and especially at the moment – a Polytopia that we are building through this festival and in the middle of the pandemic, and the very fact that a music festival can happen, maybe mainly in the virtual space. But of course Xenakis meant it as a combination of certain – even historical – spaces, music and light. So there were real precursors of multimedia shows, if you like, in the 60ies. He worked with an incredible amount of laser beams for some of the Polytopes that happened – there were probably only two and a half that were realized at the time. We are interpreting this in our own way, so it is definetly multigenre but it is also different subjects out of music. We are thinking outside of the music bubble, or even outside absolute music. I think it helps to connect people, also in the community, and the urban environment, through music and sonic environment, and what that does to us.

 I wanted to ask about two other focus points that you have at Musica Nova. The first is the organ as an instrument: you would explore the works for organ written by Nico Muhly, and then you would have an educational  symposium on organ as an instrument. To somebody it might seem even a contradiction – choosing an organ for Musica Nova events. Why and how can an organ be a contemporary instrument?

 There were lots of connections we thought of when planning this. First of all, there is a new organ coming: Kaija Saariaho has given a huge donation to Helsinki Music Center, which has not had an organ before. So they are building a fantastic organ, and we are looking forward to having it in two years time. We are commissioning new works for the organ, and Kaija is very much involved in the process. And I also have worked with a friend of mine whose name is James McVinnie who is a very close friend and great interpreter of Nico Muhly, and Nico has written a lot of new organ works for James. He is very interested in his work with Squarepusher. And another connection is electronic music, as organs are the precursors of keyboards with different sounds and registrations, which is what you also do with synthesizers. For me organ is the archetype of a synthesizer, but it is also like an orchestra. So I think it is a truly fascinating instrument. You can do so many things with that I think are not really yet explored by contemporary composers, so it is worthwile looking back and seeing what the organ can do – and that is what the seminar is also about. James McVinnie was going to come here play a recital and do a masterclass. It is impossible for people from the UK to come here, but he is still going to do the masterclass online, we still are going to hear some of the works.

Link to final concert of the masterclass (February 7, 16.00 Helsinki time) https://musicanova.fi/en/event/the-masterclass-final-concert/

Link to the new music symposium focusing on modern organ compositions, with presence of Saariaho, McVinney, Streich, etc. on February 8, 14-18.00)

New music symposium

There is also a recital with works by Kaija Saariaho and Lisa Streich. Lisa Streich, in fact, is an organist, she grew up becoming an organist, so it would be interesting to hear from her – a younger composer – what the organ means to her and what it taught her. So there were lots of different connections, and this is how this came about.

Link to the rectial with works by Saariaho and Streich, February 8, 12.00 Helsinki time: https://musicanova.fi/en/event/lunch-concert/

Also, could you talk a bit about the focus on Liza Lim?

 I would have loved to bring her more, I always thought of a way of introducing her to the public. She has a wonderful career in the last ten years, and in certain circles she is very well known but she does not seem to have been played a lot in Finland. She also wrote this piece – it is quite a recent work, it is very substantial work, 40 min work that we are playing at the beginning of the festival, which is Extinction Events and Dawn Chorus. It has a very urgent environmental concern out of which has been composed and which is also partly theatrically presented. Originally, that was going to be a collaboration between the Klangforum Wien, which we had invited, who did the premiered recording of the work and know the work inside out. They would have brought it to Helsinki and collaborate with Sibelius Academy musicians, but since that did not work out either, because of the travel situation, then young musicians of the Sibelius Academy have taken on this piece. I think that is very fitting, as it is about the future – of music first of all, of us, humankind on the planet. So I am really happy about that, and then we found a very early piece of hers that  Zagros Ensemble is playing. This early piece is still very important to Liza. So, with the very early piece of hers and the very recent piece of hers, it is sort of a very quick shortcut of Liza’s music, but nevertheless, it is a start.

Liza Lim. Picture by Klaus Rudolf

And I am very interested in those site-specific events – one happens in Kulttuurisauna, the other one is under the underpass, and the third is on the beach – correct me, if I am wrong.

 I think the one on the beach might have been postponed to the summer, and maybe that is a good idea. This is connected to Helsinki Polytopes project that I developed together with Tuomas Toivonen, a really interesting Finnish architect who also runs the New Academy. He built this sauna, it is sort of a cult place in Helsinki – Kulttuurisauna – that he built himself and that he runs with his wife, and he is also an electronic musician. He has a small electronic studio in there, and when you enter you can hear a sort of subtone coming through the walls even when you are in the sauna. He also has a separate room he sometimes uses for classes of his New Academy. He has been a co-curator of this festival, and he offered the idea of creating a listening room in a sauna, and of course we can do this now, because only one, two or three people should be listening at once. And then the other projects – one that is happening in Helsinki Central Park, and the other one is in a derelict garage under an underpass, somewhere in Helsinki. These are not necessarily site-specific works, but space-specific ones, creating a story around a certain space, with sound and light, according to the Xenakis idea. And this is developed between the New Academy and the Korvat Auki – the Young Composers Association. It is produced also by Korvat Auki who had a call out for concepts and ideas and scores, and then Tuomas helped us to pair composers with designers and architects. So it is very much about collaboration and four projects came out of it, two of which we are going to experience now, also in person during Musica Nova, and the other two are going to be further developed and be shown in the summer by our godmother festival, which is Helsinki Festival.

Actually, since you mentioned Korvat Auki, I wanted to ask you, how developed is the collaboration between the more established generation of composers and performers and the younger generations of music makers during the Festival?

 For me such collaboration is absolutely crucial. A festival sould not be only a museum for the established people and works, especially in Finland where the most established Finnish composers really get played a lot anyway, so I have not necessarily programmed so many, if any works by Salonen, Lindberg or Saariaho. I have been looking at the next generation of Finnish composers, or the very young ones, and then having them in dialogue with some figures that are already important at the moment, or that are breaking through to create this sort of dialogue. It is meant to be Finland’s international contemporary music festival, so there is an intention to bring in composers from abroad and show new directions, but also bring them in contact with the younger generation of Finnish composers, and invite them to the concerts, not for comparison but for inspiration, really.

I think the pandemic would change our ways of experiencing music… firstly, as you said, we are longing for live concerts, and they might happen in unusual places, since it would be easier to follow regulation in a park, in an underpass, in a garage. So I wonder what you think about the future of all those experiments with real space, and taking music out of concert halls –  whether it would get a new promotion because of the virus?

And secondly, again because of the virus, do you think all the digital things – Esa-Pekka Salonen is doing this completely digital season at San Francisco Symphony and thinks it could be a separate development thread for music in future – and I wondered whether having the first Festival almost all online and streamed you should also focus on digital projects in future?

 I do not really think it is the future, but I think there is a place now for everything. We will see – if we do get back to fairly normal – if we would have developed new digital tools that allow the distribution of new music, an advertisement, promotion for new music, which would be really great. But I think that concert halls of this world have been built for making orchestras sound the best, and they are basically an extension of the orchestra, and built around orchestras or chamber groups. So I think we have to find a way to invite people back to the concert halls. However, going outside of the concert hall actually gives us a chance to connect with the community in which we live and we have a task as artists or orchestras to serve the public. It makes us think about communication, and communicating why we are important and why we are there. In their turn, digital possibilities wil remain in place and they might be developed further, but hopefully more like an artistic instrument in itself. There will hopefully be a balance between different things that will inspire each other and should be fruitful in combination.

I guess that a vision of having garage concerts streamed online only with empty concert halls is a dystopian one, right?

That does not make sense so much, because we are going to the garage to experience that particular space, and it is possible to go with lesser people, and if it is an installation you can have one, or two, or three people at the time, and that is why it works at this time, that is why we built it. We thought about it for this time. Going to that sort of space is a real feature – it does not make sense to stream it… you would not have the same experience.

Could you guide us as to how to find the site of the Festival, how to locate the concerts, and whether there will be an interactive element? If you watch streams, can you ask questions?

I am actually not sure how interactive it is. I know that different concerts get streamed on various streaming platforms, and quite a few are on YouTube, where you can ask questions… you know, there is a comment section. The most important thing is that there is going to be a dedicated list with links to all the events on Musica Nova’s website, which is musicanova.fi – and there you will find the list. You can just click the link and, for example, for Tapiola Sinfonietta’s concert you move to YouTube, and then you can watch it there, and post comments there.

The timetable of Musica Nova Festival (it lasts till February 12, 2021): https://musicanova.fi/en/timetable/

Is there a possibility to stream on demand? Or is viewing possible only at the time of the event?

I think it is different for each organization, because they all contribute with their own production, each orchestra has their own way. For example, Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra and Helsinki Philharmonic – these concerts stay online on Yle TV-channel, you can watch them back. Not everything is on Yle, because the Tapiola Sinfonietta has its YouTube channel. Same for Zagros Ensemble. And then, of course, there the final Simon Steen-Andersen’s Oodi piece is going to be on our website or maybe YouTube.

Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra concert conducted by Anna-Maria Helsing, February 10, 18.00 Helsinki time https://areena.yle.fi/1-50653846

Audio link for Zagros ensemble focusing on Liza Lim, February 8 at 22.05 Helsinki time: https://areena.yle.fi/audio/1-50712260

Tapiola Sinfonietta concert (conducted by Roland Kluttig) featuring a hammond organ, February 5 and 11, 19.00 Helsinki time:

Hammond

I am very impressed by your composure: to run this Festival at such a time. Can you tell me about your particular concert, where you will be conducting Helsinki Philharmonic with Nicolas Hodges? How do you feel about being back at Helsinki and playing in Musiikkitalo?

It is a magnificent hall, I love also going there also during the day because  it is glass all around, you can have a coffee during the day and you see the orchestra rehearsing, so it is very lively to me. At my two previous festivals I conducted the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, and now will be my first time with the Helsinki Philharmonic, which I am also very excited about. They did the Finnish premiere of the big Grisey peace Les Espaces Acoustiques four years ago, at my first festival. The works that I conduct: we spoke about Anna Meredith and Edgar Varèse already, and Simon Steen-Andersen’s piano concerto. I conducted all the works once or twice before. This is special for me because with a lot of contemporary music you get to do a piece once, and then you either never do them again or have to wait for a very long time. For me that is a chance to get deeper into the music, as if it is a Beethoven symphony that you have done twenty times. It is really, really important, and I am having more fun with the pieces this time round, because I am already so familiar with them, and I can enter them more deeply.

All three works have this visual theatrical or imaginary element, so for me, they are also Polytopes, each piece is its own Polytope. For example, Anna Meredith’s work is also about urban environments. Anna Meredith made her piece in response to walking through Derby city centers, in the Midlands, between three and four o’clock in the morning. She picked up vibes and sounds from the city and she wrote an orchestra piece about it that also includes electronics, so there is a layer of electronics running underneath, all the time. And there is a new film created by a couple of artists that made a visualization two years ago, so the Simon Steen-Andersen’s piano concerto is like a double virtual concerto, because there are two screens with different videos going on at the same time, and as the pianist Nicolas Hodges is facing his own pre-recorded version where he plays a piano that has fallen from a factory floor, and it is sort of broken, and all the keys are out of tune. That has been pre-recorded, put on a sampler, and Nicolas plays both pianos at the same time, and every time he presses the button of the sampler, or plays the sampler piano, we see his pre-recorded video opposite him playing that note on the broken piano. So it is really crazy.

Simon Steen-Andersen. Picture by Christian Vium

And then Deserts by Varèse is already a classic piece. It was not realized at the time but he wrote a big letter that he imagined it to be accompanied by a film. He wrote what he was imagining it, not just actual deserts in the American deserts, but also post-industrial wastelands and even the deserts of the human mind. A very, very interesting concept. Because of the pandemic situation we had a problem with sourcing a Bill Viola film, it would not have arrived here in time, but we asked a Finnish video artist to create a new version of the visuals for the electronic interludes – inspired by this letter by Varèse. So it is going to be a world premiere again. And thus, even a piece of Varèse has this layer of live music, electronic tape and the visual layer, so it creates a four-dimensional space. And this happens in all these three, and that is why I view them as Polytopes, and very excited about that.

Helsinki Philharmonic Concert conducted by André de Ridder, February 4, 19.00 Helsinki time: https://areena.yle.fi/1-50742769

To finish our conversation, could you make a guess on how the world of music and performace will develop in the next year or two, because of the situation we have all been experiencing?

This is a very hard one, and I am afraid I have no idea. People have made lots of predictions in the last months and then everything changed again. At the moment even if 98% of the public are going to be vaccinated, I do not think that means we are going to go back to crowded concert halls. I am a little bit worried because the whole industry relies on that, on people coming in numbers to events, I don’t know how that is going to work. Subsidies from the state and some organizations at the moment are keeping the process going, but how long would it be viable financially? I think this current focus on local art scenes and musicians, and the orchestras, and the artists, and the conductors around it is quiet a healthy things for a while. When we go back, we will have a better balance of this international circuit and the focus on the community and the artists that are around in a certain place. So that is my idea, or rather a guess, about the future.