Performance Thursday, December 1, 2011 | 7:30 PM

Avanti! Chamber Orchestra


Zankel Hall
Dating back to the 1920s, tango has been hugely popular in Finland—not simply as a quirky cultural import, but as a style that songwriters have embraced and made their own. Themes of lost love and nostalgia pervade Finnish tango, and the Avanti! Chamber Orchestra brings some of the most famous examples from their native land to Carnegie Hall.


  • Avanti! Chamber Orchestra
    Hannu Lintu, Conductor
  • Markus Allan, Vocalist
  • Tuomas Hiltunen, Host


    KULLERVO LINNA "Iltarusko" (arr. Niemi)
    TOIVO KÄRKI "On elon retki näin" (arr. Laine and Niemi)
    TOIVO KÄRKI "Liljankukka"(arr. Niemi)
    JANI UHLENIUS "Pilvet karkaa- niin minäkin" (arr. Niemi)
    PENTTI VIHERLUOTO "Punaiset lehdet" (arr. Niemi)
    UNTO MONONEN "Satumaa" (arr. Niemi)
    OSKAR MERIKANTO Kesäillan valssi
    JEAN SIBELIUS Valse Triste
    TAISTO WESSLIN "Tangon Kotimaa" (arr. Laine and Niemi)
    RAMON ARCADO "Rio de la Plata" (arr. Igoni)
    VEIKKO JUNTUNEN "Valkoiset linnut" (arr. Laine and Niemi)
    ARVO KOSKIMAA "Syyspihlajan alla" (arr. Niemi)
    KAJ CHYDENIUS "Viimeisestä illasta" (arr. Lintinen)



    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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  • Markus Allan

    Fifty years have passed since Allan Isberg, aka Markus Allan, first took the stage at his local dance hall. Two years later, he marched in to the recording studio, where Toivo Kärki, the father of Finnish tango, handed him a new stage name and a piece called “Liljankukka” for him to sing.

    For five decades, Markus Allan has been the epitome of the Finnish tango: dramatic, but never too theatrical. The renowned Finnish movie maker Aki Kaurismäki’s film Pilvet karkaa- niin minäkin (and the title song with the same name) brought a new wave of success for Mr. Allan and international visibility for Finnish tango in the mid-1990s.

    Tonight, Mr. Allan celebrates his 50-year anniversary as a performer with a concert tour that reaches its climax here at Carnegie Hall.

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  • Tuomas Hiltunen

    Actor Tuomas Hiltunen has appeared in Prison Light (HERE), The Remarkable Rooming-House of Madame Le Monde (Target Margin Theater), The Verge (Ontological-Hysteric Theater), Pitch (La MaMa E.T.C.), Artfxxxers (DR2 Theatre and Theater for the New City), The Magnificent Cuckold (Connelly Theater), Legends (New Jersey Symphony Orchestra), Benvenuto Cellini (Metropolitan Opera), The Life of Spiders (Culture Project), Confessions of a Shopaholic (Disney), Late Night with Conan O’Brien (NBC), and Jonny Zero (Fox). He has also performed voice-overs and narrations for PBS, History Channel, Oxford University Press, Bose, and Apple. Mr. Tuomas teaches voice and speech at Barnard College.

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Kaija Saariaho Miranda's Lament ("From the Grammar of Dreams")
Anu Komsi, Soprano

At a Glance

Avanti! Chamber Orchestra brings listeners to the magical world of Finnish tango—a genre of dance music that has come to embody “Finnishness.” Finnish tango remains a vibrant and popular style in Finland today, where each year thousands of people travel to the tango festival in Seinäjoki. The tango came to Finland from Argentina in the early years of the 20th century, but it was only during and after World War II that Finnish tango emerged and took the nation by storm. Unlike its Argentinian predecessor, Finnish tango has a melancholy character, with its slow tempo and minor mode. The texts of Finnish tango music are focused on themes of lost love, nature, and a longing for a better place. In tonight’s program, we will hear Finnish tangos from the first generation of composers who defined the style during the period of 1940–1970, and from a second generation of composers who were instrumental in revitalizing the genre in the mid-1980s and ’90s by incorporating influences from popular music styles of the late 20th century. To round off the program and remind us of the 19th century roots of dance in Finland, we’ll hear waltzes by Sibelius and Merikanto.
Program Notes
This performance is part of Off the Beaten Track.

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