Performance Wednesday, November 30, 2011 | 7:30 PM

Avanti! Chamber Orchestra

Zankel Hall
Pre-concert talk starts at 6:30 PM in Zankel Hall with Kaija Saariaho in conversation with Jeremy Geffen, Director of Artistic Planning, Carnegie Hall.

The Avanti! Chamber Orchestra travels from its hometown of Helsinki to New York City, beginning its two-night stay at Carnegie Hall with a focus on Finnish composers. This exemplary group sheds a particularly bright spotlight on Carnegie Hall’s composer-in-residence Kaija Saariaho with her 1987 work Nymphéa and the world premiere of a suite from Emilie, her most recent opera.


  • Avanti! Chamber Orchestra
    Hannu Lintu, Conductor
  • Elizabeth Futral, Soprano
  • Heikki Nikula, Bass Clarinet
  • Avanti! Quartet
    ·· Anna-Leena Haikola, Violin
    ·· Eriikka Maalismaa, Violin
    ·· Tuula Riisalo, Viola
    ·· Mikko Ivars, Cello


  • KAIJA SAARIAHO Emilie Suite (World Premiere, co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall)


  • Avanti! Chamber Orchestra

    Avanti! Chamber Orchestra was founded in 1983 at the initiative of conductors Esa-Pekka Salonen and Jukka-Pekka Saraste and flautist Olli Pohjola to satisfy a need for high-quality ensemble work by enthusiastic and highly skilled musicians. It was also recognized that without such an ensemble, a great deal of contemporary music and other rare repertoire would remain unperformed.

    Avanti! has responded admirably to the challenge that it set itself, and many new musical ideas in Finland have been channelled through it. It is an ensemble that varies in size from a solo player to a symphony orchestra. It specializes in no particular genre; rather, it is proud to be a specialist in all styles with a strong sense of responsibility for the music of today.

    Besides the winter season's concert series in Helsinki, the orchestra has held a music festival of its own every summer in Porvoo since 1986. For the earliest festivals, various ideas were pooled; there are still traces of the original unfettered vision in the unexpected twists in the repertoire. Since the late 1990s, the festival has invited a different artistic director each year. Cellist Anssi Karttunen, the first, has been followed by Sakari Oramo, Jukka-Pekka Saraste, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Kari Kriikku, John Storgårds, Magnus Lindberg, Jouni Kaipainen, Hannu Lintu, Kaija Saariaho, Oliver Knussen, Kirmo Lintinen, Seppo Kimanen, and Pekka Kuusisto.

    Avanti! is constantly on the move and has become one of the most active ambassadors of Finnish music abroad. International engagements take the orchestra regularly around the world.

    Clarinettist Kari Kriikku has been the artistic director of Avanti! since 1998.

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    Hannu Lintu

    Hannu Lintu is artistic director and chief conductor of the Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra. In 2010, he was appointed chief conductor of the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra; his tenure will begin with a year as chief guest conductor in the 2012-2013 season. Mr. Lintu is also principal guest conductor of the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra in Dublin. Previously, he has held artistic director positions with the Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra and Turku Philharmonic Orchestra.

    Mr. Lintu's recent engagements have included appearances with the Cincinnati Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, Toronto Symphony, City of Birmingham Symphony, and Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony orchestras; Stuttgarter Philharmoniker; RTVE Symphony Orchestra; and the Hong Kong and Royal Flemish philharmonic orchestras. Highlights of the 2011-2012 season include engagements with the National Arts Centre Orchestra (Ottawa), Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra (Taiwan), and a cycle of the complete Beethoven symphonies with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra. He also returns to the Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine, Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne, and the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, DC.

    Also making regular appearances as an opera conductor, Mr. Lintu has worked regularly with the Finnish National Opera and will conduct Tannhäuser with Tampere Opera in spring 2012. With the Finnish National Opera, he has conducted several productions, including Wagner's Parsifal directed by Harry Kupfer, Bizet's Carmen, Aulis Sallinen's King Lear, Kalevi Aho's Before We Are All Drowned, and Mikko Heiniö's new opera The Hour of the Serpent. He has also worked with the Estonian National Opera, Savonlinna Opera Festival, and at The Grant Park Music Festival in Chicago.

    Mr. Lintu has made several recordings for Ondine, Hyperion, and Naxos, as well as two recordings for Danacord. His newest recording features Schumann's complete works for piano and orchestra with Angela Hewitt and will be released in 2012. Other recent recordings include works by Jouni Kaipainen with the Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra, and Schumann, Dietrich, Gernsheim, and Volkmann with the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin.

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  • Elizabeth Futral

    Elizabeth Futral has established herself as one of the major coloratura sopranos in the world today. With her stunning vocalism and vast dramatic range, she has embraced a diverse repertoire that includes Vivaldi, Handel, Mozart, Bellini, Donizetti, Rossini, and Verdi, as well as Philip Glass and André Previn.

    This season, Ms. Futral performs as Violetta in La traviata with Lyric Opera Baltimore and Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte with Washington National Opera. She also returns to Chicago's Music of the Baroque for Handel's L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato. Future seasons promise returns to the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Opera Colorado, and debuts with the Lincoln Center Festival and Glimmerglass Opera.

    Ms. Futral recently sung the title role in the American premiere of Émilie with the Spoleto Festival, the four heroines in Les contes d'Hoffmann with Florida Grand Opera, the title role in Thaïs with Teatro Municipal de Santiago, and Violetta in La traviata with Minnesota Opera, as well as recitals with Opera Birmingham, Vocal Arts DC, and the George London Foundation.

    Ms. Futral has appeared at the major opera houses of the world, including the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Bayerische Staatsoper, Gran Teatre del Liceu, Berlin Staatsoper, and Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Ms. Futral enjoys particularly close relationships with Lyric Opera of Chicago, where recent projects have included Violetta and the title role in Partenope, and Washington National Opera, where she has performed as Ophelie in Hamlet, Adina in L'elisir d'amore, Violetta, and the title role in Luciadi Lammermoor.

    A fervent performer of orchestral repertoire, Ms. Futral has performed with the New York Philharmonic under the direction of Zubin Mehta, the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sir Colin Davis, the Berliner Philharmoniker under the direction of Claudio Abbado, and the San Francisco Symphony under the direction of Michael Tilson Thomas.

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  • Heikki Nikula

    Clarinetist Heikki Nikula is an avid soloist and chamber musician who places a special emphasis on contemporary music. He has held recitals in several contemporary music festivals and is a founding member of the Avanti! Chamber Orchestra, as well as a permanent member of the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra. Improvisation is an important feature of Mr. Nikula's musicianship that he cultivates in the Free Okapi and Nada ensembles. Mr. Nikula has released two solo bass clarinet recordings (1996 and 2003).

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  • Avanti! Quartet

    The Avanti! Quartet is the most important of the numerous ensembles that are within the Avanti! Chamber Orchestra. The quartet has been seminal in bringing new works from abroad to Finland and exporting Finnish works to the world. Its repertoire also includes string quartet classics and historical rarities. The ensemble has premiered several string quartets and has numerous recordings to its credit.

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Pre-concert talk starts at 6:30 PM in Zankel Hall with Kaija Saariaho in conversation with Jeremy Geffen, Director of Artistic Planning, Carnegie Hall.


Kaija Saariaho Amers (Libero, dolce, misterioso)
Avanti! Chamber Orchestra; Esa-Pekka Salonen,Conductor; Anssi Karttunen, Cello

At a Glance

Kaija Saariaho is the holder of the 2011–2012 Richard and Barbara Debs Composer’s Chair at Carnegie Hall. As the curator of tonight’s program, Ms. Saariaho has chosen two works of her own—one a world premiere—and two works by composers whose music and lives have been intertwined with hers in significant ways. Like Ms. Saaraiaho, Jukka Tiensuu and Lotta Wennäkoski were born in Finland, and together they share a cultural heritage and educational background that shaped their approach to music making. But in the world of international compositional practices of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, it would be futile to suggest that their music somehow embodies a Finnish essence. The influences on any composer’s music are unimaginably various and specific to the creation of a particular work. However, the intertwining of the lives and music of these three composers is remarkable, and allows listeners to hear both the echoes and differences in their pieces. Mr. Tiensuu is a slightly older contemporary of Saariaho, whom she encountered as a student at Helsinki’s Sibelius Academy.  Ms. Wennäkoski is a younger colleague who studied with Saariaho. On tonight’s program, Nymphéa, written about 25 years ago, and the world premiere of the Émilie Suite frame the works of these two Finnish contemporaries to create a varied yet coherent evening of music.
Program Notes
Kaija Saariaho is the holder of the 2011-2012 Richard and Barbara Debs Composer's Chair at Carnegie Hall.

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