Finnish composer Jaakko Kuusisto is returning to Buffalo.
The highly-regarded composer was in the Nickel City for the United States premiere of his Violin Concerto during the 2015 Finn Fest. While here, he reconnected with a former Sibelius Academy classmate, BPO Principal Trumpet Alex Jokipii. They started talking about a creative collaboration, and earlier this season, Jokipii gave the world premiere of Kuusisto’s Trumpet Concerto with the Marquette (Michigan) Symphony Orchestra.
On May 12 and 13, Jokipii will perform this work with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of JoAnn Falletta. But prior to the concert, Western New Yorkers will have many chances to hear from Kuusisto and learn about the composing process, thanks to a grant from the University at Buffalo Creative Arts Initiative.
On Monday, May 7, Kuusisto will give two free talks at area libraries about the process of creating the concerto, and his friendship with Jokipii. At noon, he will speak at the Downtown Central Library, 1 Lafayette Square. At 7 p.m., he will reprise the talk at Amherst Audubon Library, 350 John Jay Audubon Parkway. The audience will have opportunities to ask questions.
On Friday, May 11, he will give a presentation at the Burchfield Penney Art Center at 1300 Elmwood Avenue as part of the M&T Bank Second Fridays event. This event includes free admission to the museum, extended hours from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and special programming. Kuusisto’s talk will be at 5:30 p.m.
Kuusisto will also work with UB’s music composition students. Composition is one of several advisement tracks available to UB graduate students in music, and alumnae have gone on to win the Druckman Prize at Aspen, Tanglewood Fellowships, and Fulbright Scholarships, with their works being performed by The New York New Music Ensemble, The Arditti Quartet, and The Meridian Arts Ensemble, among others.
The Buffalo premiere of his Trumpet Concerto takes place at 8 p.m. Saturday, May 12 and repeats at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, May 13 at Kleinhans Music Hall. Kuusisto will speak one hour prior to each event as part of “Musically Speaking,” sponsored by Uniland Development. The performance of the concerto will be recorded for a future release on the BPO’s house label, Beau Fleuve.
Kuusisto is a highly-regarded conductor and violinist, in addition to his composing. He is Chief Conductor of Kuopio Symphony Orchestra, artistic director of the Oulu Music Festival, and has many guest-conducting credits. He is also the former concertmaster of the Lahti Symphony Orchestra, and is one of Finland’s most-recorded instrumentalists. He has written more than 40 works, including a popular family opera, The Canine Kalevala. His Violin Concerto for Elina Vahalla has been extremely well-received, with performances all over the world and a recording on BIS conducted by with Kuusisto.
“If you’ve ever listened to a piece like Beethoven’s Violin Concerto and wondered how something like that comes together, now is your chance to find out,” said BPO Director of Education and Community Engagement Robin Parkinson. “Jaakko Kuusisto’s reputation has been growing steadily, and we’re pleased to partner with UB to bring him to Buffalo for this historic performance.”
For more information, visit bpo.org.