The first half of 2021 was mostly digital, the second not so much. It's been a roller coaster ride of multiple collaborators and huge amounts of repertoir, but mostly within the greater Stockholm area. I've played at Svenska Akademien, started a new quartet, collaborated with 2020 Solistpriset -winner, flutist Laura Michelin, we're back planning the North-American tour with the soprano Tessan-Maria Lehmussaari and I've finally started an Instagram account, to mention a few things. Read on for more details! A while ago I finished off the gig year by a few Xmas song concerts and now it's time to prepare for the new year and reminisce.
Duo Finstrument in Örebro
Duo Finstrument is a multi-instrument duo I started with the church musician Terhi Aho back in 2018 when by chance we ended up doing a concert together on Värmdö. We were brought together because Terhi needed a pianist, and we were pleasantly surprised when we found out we're both Finnish. Terhi's main instrument is the organ, but she's also an accomplished cellist and soprano. Moreover, she took up Finland's national instrument kantele a while ago. So whenever we have a gig with Duo Finstrument, it looks like a whole band is going on tour.
We finally got together again in August, this time in Örebro. The fantastic thing about playing with Terhi is that it always feels like we only met yesterday even if, as in this case, we hadn't even seen each other for over a year. There was a nice newspaper article about our concert in the nationwide newspaper Ruotsinsuomalainen ("Swede-Finn") and we already have plans for the coming February.
Arts Promotion Center
Apart from my fifth cultural grant from Nacka municipality, I also received a covid stipend from the Arts Promotion Center Finland, the same way as last year. This was the second summer with very limited number of events and work opportunities for many freelancers. The Arts Promotion Center stipends enable artists to have continuity in their work despite cancelled concerts and exhibitions, and at the same time prepare for future events.
Tour of the US, Canada and Sweden
Speaking of the future, the tour that was supposed to be behind us long ago is now ahead, again. I'm talking of course about the Jenny Lind -tour in North America and Sweden with the soprano Tessan-Maria Lehmussaari. Now our Canadian and US tour is set for June 2022 and mid July-mid August we'll be touring Sweden. We had an interview with SVT the other day about it, you can watch the entire interview (in Finnish, with Swedish subs) here. Not sure how long the link will be valid, but to summarize, we talk about the upcoming tour and say we're ready for it (as we have been since 2020), and that we're keeping our fingers crossed that it'll actually happen this time.
Golden wedding anniversary
Tessan and I had an exciting gig in the fall at the golden wedding anniversary of an important Swedish culture figure. With us we had the super star flute virtuoso Laura Michelin, who has won the prestigious Solistpriset. Her level of craftsmanship and talent was a true pleasure to work with! Everything felt very effortless despite our limited rehearsal time together. Laura has been touring all over Sweden this fall and has been selected as one of the very few participants of the international Kobe flute competition in Japan. I wish her the best of luck and hope we can play together again soon!
Järfälla culture center
One of my old duo partners Pauliina Sairanen won the tryouts to the Gothenburg Opera where she's now working. She put me in touch with a colleague of hers, Tiina Markkanen, an alumn of the Metropolia Music Academy of Helsinki and the music department of Lund's University in Malmö. Tiina needed a pianist for a concert in Järfälla near Stockholm and I was happy to say yes. It felt like we've been collaborating for years despite having just met a few times before the concert!
On the same day as our Järfälla concert we also had the maiden voyage of what is probably the only Finnish quartet working in Sweden right now, Skratt. We chose the name Skratt because all four of us have loud and infectious laughters. Skratt-quartet consists of my old partners in crime Katariina Kolehmainen and Lila Arha and the violinist-conductor-composer multitalent extraordinaire Elisar Riddelin, fresh from the Sibelius Academy and currently doing his M.A. at - naturally - KMH Stockholm. It's been over 5 years since I've played with this big an ensemble. It was also wonderful to be back at my old school for the rehearsals. We played two movements of my favourite quartet, Brahms g-minor opus 25 and the plan is to do the entire piece in the spring.
Independence day at Finlandsinstitutet
The year came full circle when I played at Finlandsinstitutet on Finland's independence day: last year I had the flutist Miia Roiko-Jokela with me, this time I was with cello-Katariina. Last year they streamed the event so it was only us and the camera crew present. This time the place was packed with audience. Finland's institute's social media gurus got great footage for their Instagram account. Here are two screenshots of the evening's event:
Lecture concert at Svenska Akademien
If you go to the front page of my website you'll see I've changed my background image. The new background is from November when me and Tessan-Maria played at a lecture concert at Svenska Akademien. The theme of the evening was musical salon life in Europe in the 1800s, spoken about by musicologist and professor emerita Eva Öhrström (more information about her here), Swedish literary historian Horace Engdahl (Wikipedia) and actor Hannes Meidal (IMDb). Much in a similar way as in 2020 when we had a lecture concert at Stockholm's concert hall (which you can view on YouTube), we took turns with the lecturers and played our program one or a few pieces at a time. This time I also had solo pieces, I in fact learned Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel's January and February from her great work Das Jahr for this event. It's amazing music, maybe some day I'll play all twelve movements! You can read the Swedish description of the event here.
Last but not least, I finally set up a public Instagram-account! Find me there @siljalevander (Instagram) to see what I'm up to. It's a great addition to my biannual ramblings here on my blog and the threshold for new posts is much lower.
Happy new year everyone!
This blog is a work diary with updates about my life as a musician and designer.