August 5, 2011
Indeed, listeners experience her music as an overwhelming primal event, a mystical encounter providing glimpses of a deeper reality that escapes the regulated, linear consciousness of everyday life.
Born on October 14, 1952, in Helsinki, Finland, Saariaho studied visual art at the Helsinki University of Art and Design. From 1976 to 1981, she studied composition at the Sibelius Academy. As a student, she was one of the leading members of Korvat auki (Ears Open), a group of young Finnish composers who rejected contemporary music fashions and sought new musical expressions.
In 1982 Saariaho moved to Paris. She studied electronic music at the Institut de Récherche et de Coordination Acoustique-Musique (IRCAM). Here Saariaho formed her aesthetic; in particular, the idea that the essentially mysterious nature of sound can never be completely encompassed by knowledge (Minderovic).
I find Saariaho’s music enchanting. Her use of electronics is holistic. The programs she writes in Max, a graphic object-oriented multimedia language, are sensual components of the sound-worlds she creates. Lohn, for soprano and electronics, is one of my favorites.