Finnish composers and musicians on display at Netherlands' November Music

UPDATE Nov 4th, 2020: The event has been canceled in its entirety due to the COVID-19 pandemic! The eclectic Dutch music festival November Music is focusing this year on female composers and performers, with Kaija Saariaho (pictured above) as the main composer in focus. The line-up has many other Finnish musicians and composers, such as Eija Kankaaranta and Aino Peltomaa. November Music takes place from 6 through 15 November at various locations in the Dutch city of ’s-Hertogenbosch.

Beside 10 Dutch composers, November Music has commissioned two composers from abroad to write pieces this year, including a choir work by Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho – who is this year's festival composer. As well as the newly commissioned work, a large number of Saariaho’s pieces are being performed on Friday 13 and Saturday 14 November – altogether six concerts showcasing Saariaho’s music. Performers include Finnish string quartet Meta4, and kantele player Eija Kankaanranta.

The Finnish focus is a result of the festival’s artistic director Bert Palinckx’s visit to Arctic Paradise Contemporary event, organized by Music Finland’s in 2019.

Finnish string ensemble Meta4 will be play a program that consists of music by Kaija Saariaho and Juha T. Koskinen. Kantele player Eija Kankaaranta will play several concerts with music by Finnish composers and also teach masterclasses during the week. The festival also commissioned a new piece for Kankaanranta’s by the Dutch composer Karmit Fadael.

Dutch jazz pianist Harmen Fraanje will present his new project with Finnish vocalist Aino Peltomaa. Peltomaa combines old music with folk and jazz and has previously collaborated with Fraanje in their trio with gambist Mikko Perkola. Additionally, Peltomaa will also perform with Eija Kankaanranta in a concert including music by Olli Virtaperko and Hannu Saha.

”Our line-up features two of my colleagues, the Frenchmen Brice Soniano and Toma Gouband, as well as the wonderful Norwegian hardanger violinist Nils Økland. We will play a largely improvised performance, including our members’ own compositions as well as some medieval melodies I have discovered. The festival also managed to create a new Finnish duo when they asked me to do concerts with kantele player Eija Kankaanranta. We instantly had a great connection when we trained for the first time! Our repertoire "Kulta" invites the listener to a journey through the centuries, as we combine Finnish medieval tunes with folk tunes, improvisation and new music, comprised of vocals, bells, harp, kanteles, electronics. Let’s hope the kind of tunes that I play will breed more interest for this slightly special kind of music that I represent – in the middle ground between classical, folk and improvised music!”, Aino Peltomaa tells us before embarking on the festival.

November Music is one of Europe’s most important international contemporary music festivals. The festival had its first edition in 1993, and has ever since taken place in the beautiful Mediaeval Brabant capital of ’s-Hertogenbosch (also called Den Bosch) in the south of the Netherlands. This year, November Music aims for more diversity in the field of new music, which includes a more equitable ratio of men and women: For the first time, more work by female than male composers will be heard at the festival.

Many of the festival's concerts will be also live streamed – including ones with Finnish musicians and compositions. Check November Music's website for streaming updates.