Based on Kaija Saariaho’s Offrande, which cellist Anssi Karttunen and organist Olivier Latry just played at the inauguration of the new organ at Helsinki Musiikkitalo, the two artists would like to launch a project with newly commissioned works for cello and organ in memory of Kaija Saariaho. They hope to inspire concert halls and festivals to participate in the commission and organise concerts for the premieres. The pieces are due to be completed in the first half of 2025 and will go on tour from the 2025/2026 season.
Memorial Commissions for Kaija Saariaho
Anssi Karttunen – Olivier Latry
Kaija Saariaho had a very particular relationship with the organ. She herself studied the organ and – before deciding to become a composer – had even thought of becoming a church organist in the north of Finland. She wrote an organ concerto, Maan Varjot, for Olivier Latry. She made a major donation to the Musiikkitalo in Helsinki towards building the concert hall organ thanks to which the organ was finally inaugurated in January 2024. The cello was the instrument Kaija Saariaho most wrote for as a solo instrument and in chamber music in many combinations, largely thanks to her close friendship with Anssi Karttunen. She even wrote a piece for cello and organ, Offrande, as a wedding present to Anssi’s daughter, Marianna Karttunen. Offrande was the first piece in the inaugural concert of the organ of Musiikkitalo on 1 January 2024.
The artists would like to create a commissioning fund in Kaija Saariaho’s memory for duos for cello and organ by composers who were closely linked with Kaija Saariaho to honour her and to create a wealth of pieces by major composers for a combination that has largely been ignored until now.
A list of composers Olivier Latry and Anssi Karttunen have put together:
Zosha di Castri
John Paul Jones
Augusta Read Thomas
Anssi Karttunen has always been on the cutting edge of classical music performance and is one of the most innovative cellists in today’s international music scene. He started learning the cello as a 4-year-old in Finland, a uniquely fertile ground for music and musicians, and subsequently built up a worldwide reputation both as a soloist and chamber musician. In his repertoire, he takes a fresh look at the well-known masterpieces and brings forgotten works to the public ear, as well as making own original transcriptions. He plays on modern, classical, and baroque cellos, as well as violoncello piccolo and electric cello. The latter features prominently in his current solo projects, which include images, video and electronics.