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A festival feature on Magnus Lindberg in Helsinki in October includes nine of his works, including the Finnish premieres of Triumph to Exist and Shadow of the Future.

Helsinki plays host to a major feature centred on Magnus Lindberg presented by the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra between 11 and 31 October. Nine of his works, ranging from orchestral to chamber scores, are spread across nine concert events in his home city, with Lindberg appearing as conductor and pianist as well as composer.

The Lindberg repertoire spans over 30 years from his early success Kraft premiered in 1985 to his two most recent large-scale scores, Triumph to Exist for choir and orchestra and Shadow of the Future for large ensemble, receiving their Finnish premieres. These are set in a wider musical context with concert performances of Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice, chamber programmes and a piano recital of pieces from Mozart to Berg. In addition to the FRSO under conductor Hannu Lintu, performers include violinist Pekka Kuusisto and pianist Laura Mikkola.

Triumph to Exist, premiered in London last year, sets seven Swedish-language poems by the Finnish writer Edith Södergran. The texts were selected in the light of the centenary of the end of World War I but they also celebrate the triumph of humanity in the face of adversity and the joy of existence, as explained by the composer: “I am particularly drawn to the work of Edith Södergran who was the first Finnish modernist poet, and like me, was part of the Swedish-speaking community of Finland. The opening poem, Triumf att finnas till…, was written by her in 1916, in the middle of the catastrophe and despair of World War I.” Following its first performance by the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir conducted by Vladimir Jurowski, the half-hour work has been heard at the Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon, and beyond the Finnish premiere on 16 October are performances in Rome and Lille.

The title of Shadow of the Future also draws on the poetry of Edith Södergran - a collection headed by this poem which tells of life's transcience: the shadow of death is cast across the sunlight but the final line ends on an upbeat: "I shall turn my back on life, smiling". Scored for large ensemble, the 17-minute work was commissioned by the Ensemble Intercontemporain with the support of the Fondation Meyer. The group gave the premiere at the Cité de la Musique in Paris in June under the baton of Matthias Pintscher, followed by the German premiere this month at the Pierre Boulez Saal in Berlin and a further French performance is scheduled in January in Dijon. The first Finnish performance on 18 October features the Tapiola Sinfonietta with the composer on the rostrum.

Other highlights of the Lindberg Festival in Helsinki include the orchestral works Kraft, Kinetics and Aura, Piano Concerto No.1 and Violin Concerto No.1, plus the composer's recent string trio Maguey de Tlalcoyote, commissioned by the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival.

> Lindberg Festival in Helsinki

>  Further information on Work: Triumph to Exist

Photo: Philip Gatward

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