This year’s Musica nova Helsinki festival saw a line-up Finnish premieres from Cassandra Miller, Anders Hillborg, and Francisco Coll.

On 10 March Anne-Marie Helsing conducted the Finnish Radio Symphony orchestra in Francisco Coll’s Aqua Cinerea (2005). As his op.1, the 10-minute pieces offers a foretaste of Coll’s explosive and unsettling compositional imagination, elaborated in a host of works since. This performance continues the FRSO’s relationship with Coll’s music. This month Aqua Cinerea also received its Canadian premiere on 29 March from the Toronto Symphony Orchestra conducted by Gustavo Gimeno, a keen champion of Coll’s music, and has recently conducted the work with the LA Philharmonic. TSO will be the seventh orchestra to perform this dynamic and evocative work.

On 9 March EMO Ensemble performed Hillborg’s The Breathing of the World for chorus, soprano saxophone, and cello at Temppeliaukio Church. The choir were directed by Pasi Hyökki with Tatu Ahola and Joonatan Rautiola. The 10-minute piece is scheduled for further performances in Stockholm at the end of April with the Swedish Radio Choir, directed by Kaspars Putniņš, with Theo Hillborg Filip Graden– the pair of soloists who premiered the work in 2019. The Swedish Radio Choir also perform Hillborg’s evocative 1999 sixteen-part vocalise for mixed chorus Mouyayoum.

On 4 March the Helsinki Chamber Choir, directed by Nils Schweckendiek, performed Miller’s Guide for vocal ensemble, also receiving its Finnish premiere. “I knew right away”, said Miller of the Guide, “that I would attempt to write a piece about ‘the feeling of freedom one gets from singing’.” The musical stimulus for the 15-minute piece comes from one of her mother’s folk records: ‘Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah’, recorded by Maria Muldaur in 1968. The 13-minute piece was premiered by EXAUDI in 2013; on 11 June EXAUDI perform Miller’s Guide at the Aldeburgh Festival, where Miller is an artist-in-focus.