Finnish composer-pianist Iiro Rantala (born 19.1.1970) studied at the Oulunkylä Pop & Jazz Conservatory and in the jazz programme of the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki. From 1991 to 1993 he attended the Manhattan School of Music, New York, majoring in classical piano.
A leading composer of jazz, Iiro Rantala has also written scores for musicals, films and numerous dance and theatre productions, a popular Piano Concerto and Christmas Oratorio, and a Double Concerto for violin, piano and orchestra to be premiered in Bremen in January 2022. The orchestra will be his partner for many years, the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, with which he has previously released a live disc of works by Mozart (2018) and an album Rhapsody in Blue (2020).
Rantala’s first opera, Pikaparantola (Sanatorio Express, 2018, to a libretto by Minna Lindgren), was composed as a commission from the Finnish National Opera and premiered on 27.9.2018. His second opera, Die Zaubermelodika, commissioned by the Komische Oper Berlin, is to be premiered in Berlin in October 2021. A sequel to Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, it features the same cast – with a characteristic Rantala twist. This libretto is also by Minna Lindgren.
Iiro Rantala is also the founder and pianist of the Trio Töykeät, a Finnish jazz line-up that has won international acclaim. The Trio has been a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador since 1994. In 2007, Rantala founded the Iiro Rantala New Trio with guitarist Marzi Nyman and beatboxer Felix Zenger. A man of many talents, he is also familiar at home in Finland from his own TV and radio programmes.
Crossing musical and generic borders comes naturally to Rantala. He has been the soloist in Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue and has performed Mozart’s A-major Piano Concerto with almost all the major Finnish orchestras. During the 2007/2008 season he played the Martinů Concerto for Two Pianos with Olli Mustonen as the other soloist.
The many distinctions bestowed on Iiro Rantala have included the Yrjö Reward of the Finnish Jazz Federation, a five-year grant from the National Council for Music (1998), a five-year grant from the Finnish Arts Council (2004) and the prestigious Pro Finlandia medal (2013). He has had an agreement with the German ACT label since 2010 and recorded ten solo albums in ten years.