Tommi Kärkkäinen (b. 1969) studied at the Sibelius Academy under Paavo Heininen and took the first prize for young composers at the Unesco Rostrum in 1998 with his first orchestral work Seven Miniatures. Kärkkäinen’s music has been heard at concerts given by the Ears Open! Society in Helsinki and at various festivals such as the UNM (Young Nordic Music), the Ultima Festival, the Gothenburg Art Sounds festival and the Nordic Music Days. ALCHEMY 2006, a multimedia concert with tape and chamber music by Kärkkäinen was heard at the Musica nova festival in 2006.
Among Kärkkäinen’s early works are In a Cave of Silver Grey for flute and live electronics and Calvin & Hobbes for piano. He has investigated ways of constructing homogenous harmonies with the help of a computer but sampled and processed with, say, a piano. Computer-aided harmony reached its peak in Nocturnal Journey (Läpi yön, 1999) for orchestra.
Kärkkäinen’s output to date includes a number of chamber works, such as the wind sextet Syntymätön (The Unborn, 1997) and the variable Music for Tuba and/or Trombone and/or Tape (2000). He has, however, fast become associated with orchestral music and feels most at home in this genre.
Examples of his orchestral works are Fontana Obscura (2000), Atrum Unda (2002) and Cello Concerto (2001). One of his most exciting works is Somnium fraude, commissioned by Esa-Pekka Salonen for a performance in June 2003. The Finnish Technology Award Foundation commissioned two orchestral pieces from Kärkkäinen in 2004 (Fanfare and Cygnus X-1 Book III, Millennium). His other orchestral works include Primo Formamentum (2007) for string quartet and chamber orchestra, Tener Tempestas (2008) - a concerto for silent guitar, effects and orchestra, and Praesentia for string orchestra (2011). His Isafold’s Eye was premiered in 2004 by the Avanti! Chamber Orchestra and the UMO Jazz Orchestra.
Tommi Kärkkäinen has also written several chamber works for guitar accompanied by other instruments. They include Fragilia (2003) for guitar and string quartet, Aedes Artivus (2004) for flute, guitar, violoncello and piano, Primo Formamentum (2007) for guitar and string quartet and Duo for Guitar and Harp (2011). Kärkkäinen has a background in progressive and heavy rock and has experimented with crossover elements in his orchestral Paranoidia (2000).