Helena Juntunen. Photo: Heikki Saukkomaa.
Sat 14.9.2019 03.00 pm Musiikkitalo, Helsinki
AUF cooperation

Music for All Time

Three orchestras together

Donatoni – Vivaldi – Chin – Ellington – Van Heusen – Arlen – Adams

Helena Juntunen, soprano
UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra
Finnish Baroque Orchestra
Kirmo Lintinen, conductor
René Bosc, conductor


Three top orchestras in different genres, Avanti!, UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra and the Finnish Baroque Orchestra (FiBO) gather together in a unique concert with soprano Helena Juntunen. Each orchestra offers the best from their core repertoire, and at the end of the concert, the versatile musicians unite their forces in the groovy and pulsating work Fearful Symmetries by John Adams, led by conductor René Bosc. The fast paced piece is the perfect pair for its tailored Buster Keaton themed video art. Adams has explained that his work mixes the bravura of a big band with the glittering sheen of techno pop and the finesse of a symphony orchestra.

But it is Helena Juntunen that really shows her versatility, diving into jazz rhythms directly from the tragic expressionism of Vivaldi’s famous aria Sposa son disprezzata, and further into the nonsense humor of Unsuk Chin’s Puzzles and Games, together with Avanti. Puzzles and Games is based on Lewis Carroll’s books about Alice, whose exhilarating worlds also inspired the composer to write the opera Alice in Wonderland. Carroll’s linguistic wealth and Chin’s manner of savouring it are not very far from the Baroque rhetoric, the precise mediation of text and emotion. The different territories of the orchestras - Baroque, contemporary music and jazz - intersect in many ways in this concert.

Italy has produced legendary composers from the Renaissance up to the 20th century. The Italian masters of new music include e.g. Luigi Nono, Luciano Berio and Franco Donatoni, of whom we will hear Concertino nro 2 (1993). In its own way, it continues the concerto tradition, a genre developed largely by Antonio Vivaldi. The prelude from the opera Dorilla in Tempe, performed by FiBO, is really a three-part concerto for orchestra. Vivaldi’s concert style, made firm through repetitions, and Donatoni’s minimalistic Concertino for five synthesisers have surprising similarities. In the prelude from Dorilla in Tempe one can also distinguish a familiar theme from the Four Seasons.

Baroque and jazz are united by improvisation, an applied stance in relation to the work. The freedom of the musician and the composed material are interlaced in both genres. In the 1950s, Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn composed a 12-piece suite that explored the rich characters of Shakespeare’s plays. Now UMO Helsinki performs the first piece of the suite, Such Sweet Thunder, which is based on the most common chord progression in jazz music, blues.

In addition, Helena Juntunen has picked two songs from the jazz standard treasure chest, which have been arranged for this performance by Kirmo Lintinen, who conducts UMO Helsinki in the concert. Opposite from jazz standards in general, neither of the songs are originally musical or movie soundtracks. Stormy Weathers was heard for the first time in Harlem’s Cotton Club performed by Ethel Waters in 1933, and it has been interpreted by e.g. Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra. Pairing with the unhappy love song is the uninhibitedly pink love dream made immortal by Frank Sinatra, Polka Dots and Moonbeams. It is one of the most recorded jazz standards, and also popular among instrumentalists.

Duration: 1 h 45 min (incl. intermission)