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Tampere Biennale dives into mindscapes

The programme of the Tampere Biennale on 6–10 April has been published. The festival is held in even-numbered years and focuses on Finnish contemporary music. This year’s theme is Mindscapes. The programme features the human voice in its many manifestations: there are serious statements and tragic tales but also playfulness and joie de vivre. Human stories are explored not only in concerts but also in the extensive curated series of exhibitions.

Once again, the Tampere Biennale serves up a menu of world premieres and rarely performed orchestral and chamber music works by interesting composers. The festival opens with a robust programme of contemporary Finnish music for winds performed by the Guards Band accompanied with visual designs by media artist Arttu Nieminen.

Zagros Ensemble, a prominent performer of new music, brings forth light and shadow, ranging from the tragic mini-opera Huoli [Care] by Heidi Hassinen to Valon portit [Portals of light] by Robert Ruohola. The programme includes the world premiere of Mitä haluat sanoa [What you want to say] by Aki Yli-Salomäki, commissioned by the Tampere Biennale.

Several world premieres are given by TampereRaw and the Tampere Philharmonic. TampereRaw are premiering Elegia composed by Markku Klami and commissioned by the Tampere Biennale, El sueno by Ilari Laakso and a new work by Jennah Vainio, the artistic director of Tampere Biennale 2022, entitled End Credits.  The Tampere Philharmonic, meanwhile, are premiering their new commission, Ne laulavat aivan [They are truly singing] by Henri Sokka, and Water by Sanna Ahvenjärvi and Tapio Lappalainen, which was commissioned for a concert in 2020 that was cancelled. The Tampere Philharmonic is conducted by Rebecca Tong from Indonesia, with soloist Felix Zenger.

In a free concert, Eero Saunamäki performs the complete works written for recorder and electronics in Finland. Likewise free of charge are the matinee by Sami JunnonenTuomas Turriago and Laura Maddalena, a music drama for harpsichordist/actor by Eero Hämeenniemi, performed by Elina Mustonen.

Further on the programme are a new Finnish ensemble named Superpluck, the Electric Guitar Quartet with their innovative modern sounds and the Game Music Collective performing music from international console games. The club nights at Telakka feature lighter and more experimental electronic beats and live instruments, including 8 Bits High, who create their music using Commodore 64 computers; HLER, whose improvisations on a Peruvian synthesizer are always different; and the Hammond organ and drums duo Nieminen & Litmanen.

As always, the festival concludes with the Tampere Biennale Family Day, this time at the Finnish Museum of Games at Museum Centre Vapriikki. The event includes a concert of game music by Cellomania and young talent from the Pirkanmaa Music Institute, and also an animation workshop and Moomin games.

Visual art and sound art aficionados are treated to a series of exhibitions. Miten olla mies tai nainen tai jotain muuta? (VI) [How to Be a Woman or a Man or Something Else?] by Teemu Mäki and the sound installation Numbers Stations by Jussi Suonikko are at Galleria Himmelblau. Soiva tila [Sound space] by Anna Hakula and Mari Paikkari occupies the gallery at Culture House Laikku, while the exhibition My Long Pink Spring by Yassine Khaled is on show in the Studio. Sound art works by music technology students at the Sibelius Academy are installed in the Library Park and in the Finlayson media tunnel. The Tampere Biennale commissioned a new work from Heidi Hassinen for the Frenckell carillon, and at Telakka visitors can see a documentary photo exhibition by Filippo Zambon, Nightwalkers, which is about a group of homeless people. Most of the exhibitions will remain on display until 24 April 2022. Admission to all exhibitions is free.

The advance event of the Tampere Biennale takes place at the main library, Metso, on 23 March 2022. Composer Osmo Tapio Räihälä talks about his book ‘Why contemporary music is so difficult’, which recently won the prestigious Tieto-Finlandia non-fiction prize, and sax player Olli-Pekka Tuomisalo & pianist Risto-Matti Marin combine heavy rock with classical contemporary music in their ‘Metallofonia’ concert. The event concludes with a preview of Heidi Hassinen’s new work for the Frenckell bells outside in the square.

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