Born in Helsinki in 1952, Kaija Saariaho has become one of Finland’s most progressive and pioneering composers. Studying at the prestigious Sibelius Academy, Darmstadt Academy and at the IRCAM research institute in Paris, Saariaho has had some incredible musical training.
Saariaho’s work within the development of computer-assisted compositions has proven to be one of her most valuable assets. Her knowledge of working with live electronics and tapes is considered one of her trademarks. Her work in this sector has shaped her attitudes and approaches to orchestral composition. Her use of dense sounds and collaboration with live tapes has made works such as Verblendungen some of her most popular compositions.
Saairaho has composed music for all sorts of genres, from opera to electronic, her talents are truly endless. Many of her works have been recorded, with some even being programmed in commercial concert halls. Works such as Laterna Magica have been performed at the BBC Proms. An award-winning composer in her own right, Saariaho’s music is unique to her ever-progressing stylet.
Composed in 1997, Mirrorsis scored for flute and cello. As the title suggests, Mirrors is based on symmetry and mirror images of music. Saariaho states in her score notes for this work that there should always be a mirror between the musicians in one or more of the following musical dimensions: rhythm, pitch, instrumental gesture or timbre. These symmetrical nuances can either be vertical or horizontal on the score.
Mirrors was composed in the height of the CD-Rom era, and its purpose was to engage the user so that they could create their own mirrors too. Saariaho supplied the fragments of music on the CD, which are built to be able to change into different forms dependent on the construction.
In live performance, the flautist and cellist have room to make artistic decisions in which mirrors they want to create and how they will go about making those effects. The original score sees Saariaho’s own mirror images, which she showcases through rhythms, pitch and gestures. As long as artists take her ideas of creating mirror images, the piece should work and be a really exciting listen for the audience, as well as an artistic endeavour for the performers.
Ⓒ Alex Burns 2020
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