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Kimmo Hakola's monologue opera Akseli was premiered by the Finnish Chamber Orchestra and Avanti! Chamber Orchestra on 28 February. Singing the leading role was baritone Jorma Hynninen. Pekka Hako has written the libretto to this opera about the mindscapes and visions of legendary Finnish artist Akseli Gallen-Kallela.
The production is staged at the Ateneum Hall in Helsinki, and the performances run until 17 March.
Piano Concerto (IX Lux)
Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra, cond. John Storgårds, sol. Henri Sigfridsson
(Ondine Records CD-1127-2)
Clarinet Concerto (IV Khasene)
Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, cond. Sakari Oramo, sol. Kari Kriikku
(Ondine Records CD-1063-2)
Chamber Concerto (II Tempestoso)
Present Music, cond. Kimmo Hakola
(Innova Recordings CD 590)
Kivi-laulut (Kivi Songs) (I Metsämiehen laulu)
Ostrobothian Ch.Orch., cond. Juha Kangas, sol. Jorma Hynninen
(Alba Records ABCD 348)
Kimmo Hakola (born 27 July 1958) studied at the Sibelius Academy under Einojuhani Rautavaara and Eero Hämeenniemi. He entered the limelight at the end of the 1980s after his success at the Unesco Composers' Rostrum. In 1987 he won the Rostrum with his String Quartet and in 1991 with his Capriole for cello and clarinet.
Hakola's music has been performed at several major music events and festivals, and portrait concerts of his works have been held e.g. in Los Angeles (Monday Evening Concerts) and New York (Miller Theatre, Broadway). His music was also broadly presented at the Stockholm International Composer’s Festival in 2008.
Hakola’s works usually attract exceptional interest. He is a creator of intense musical dramas that recognize no stylistic or expressive limits. His music is a combination of exciting dramatic power and exceptional musical quality and musicianship is manifest in all his achievements resulting in communicativeness and richness of sound that speak of the composer's delight at discovering his very own idiom.
Hakola has composed six operas: The Mastersingers of Mars (a delightful cartoon opera including elements unusual for an opera, 2000), The Mustard Seed (Sinapinsiemen, 2000), The Rolling Stone (Vierivä kivi, 2008), Mara and Katti (a family opera, 2011), La Fenice (commissioned by the Savonlinna Opera Festival, 2011) and Akseli (a monologue opera, 2012). His work list also includes orchestral works and concertos for different instruments. The Piano Concerto premiered at the Helsinki Festival in 1996 was an unprecedented work in new Finnish music in its expressive range, variety of styles and massive scope. The Clarinet Concerto has been a roaring success and it has been performed several times since the premiere in 2001. The Chamber Concerto commissioned by Present Music was premiered in Milwaukee, USA in March 2002. Hakola has also composed concertos for oboe, flute, electric kantele and guitar. The latest addition to the list of concertos is the Violin Concerto (2012), a co-commission between the WDR Symphony Orchestra, the Helsinki Philharmonic and John Storgårds.
His other orchestral works include a Sinfonietta (1999), Verdoyances crepuscules (2003), Maro (commissioned by the Swedish Radio and Berwald Hall for a performance at the Baltic Sea Festival in August 2006) and KIMM (commissioned by the Stockholm International Composer’s Festival in 2008).
Hakola’s large scale works include two oratorios. Le Sacrifice is tied in closely with the film of Andrei Tarkovsky. It was commissioned by Ircam for a performance in Paris in November 2002, and a new, revised version was heard in Helsinki in 2005. Le Sacrifice was one of the three winners of the first Teosto Prize awarded by the Finnish Composers' Copyright Society in 2003. Hakola’s other oratorio Song of Songs was premiered on 20 October 2006 at the International Choral Espoo festival. Hakola has also written works for mixed choir.
Hakola has also written vocal and choral music as well as chamber works, the weightiest of them being his three string quartets and the Clarinet Quintet from 1998. His chamber works include the Kivi Songs (Kivi-laulut, 2007), Leonardo Etudes for guitar (2007), Kal for electric harp, electronics and chamber ensemble (2008) and Appassionato for cello and piano (2009). Kimmo Hakola has been the composer-in-residence of the Joensuu City Orchestra. Apart from composing he has also turned towards conducting and acting as a performing artist. Hakola has been the Artistic Director of the Musica nova festival in 1999-2006 and was awarded for his work in developing the festival by the Helsinki region Arts Council in 2006. He was the artistic director of the Helsinki Chamber Choir in 2005-2007. His works have been recorded by Ondine and Innova Records.