260424_Joonas Concert_2 by Matthias Müller Photography.jpg


Fri 26/04/2024 19:00 - 20:00


The strange bird Richard, the organist George and his bulldog Dan – Edward Elgar's circle of friends is immortalised in his Enigma Variations.

Piracy, love and religion are the ingredients of Ethel Smyth’s psychological drama The Wreckers. The strange bird Richard, the stuttering beauty Dorabella, the cathedral organist George and his bulldog Dan – Edward Elgar's circle of friends are immortalised in the composer's Enigma Variations. But whose portrait is the 13thvariation, at the beginning of which Elgar wrote three enigmatic asterisks?

New! This concert has no intermission and will also be performed as a matinee on Friday afternoon.

Ethel Smyth: Overture to the opera The Wreckers

Ethel Smyth (1858–1944) was a British composer of both orchestral and chamber music, solo songs and operas. She suffered from many of the prejudices against women composers, though her opera Der Wald was the first by a woman ever to enter the repertoire of the New York Metropolitan. Some said her music was “too masculine”, but she was an ardent feminist and an active suffragette who spent two months in prison. The libretto of The Wreckers was originally in French but translated into English for the first London performance in 1909. It tells of the villagers – the wreckers – in the English county of Cornwall who wrecked ships by putting out the lighthouse beacon during storms to lead ships onto the rocks. They then killed the sailors and shared out the cargo. The priest’s wife begins an illicit affair with a young fisherman, but they are caught by the lighthouse keeper and left to drown on the incoming tide.

Edward Elgar: Enigma Variations, Op. 36

Returning one evening, exhausted, from his job as a teacher and violinist, Edward Elgar (1857–1934) sat idly toying with a theme he had just invented, and it occurred to him to vary it in ways that capture the characteristic feature of a friend or relative. Encouraged by his wife, he later arranged them as a piece for orchestra called The Enigma Variations. It was a tremendous success and marked the turning point in his career.

Each variation is thus a portrait of persons whose names are mentioned in the score either as initials (e.g., W.N. = Winifred Norbury) or by a pseudonym (e.g., Nimrod = August Jaeger, Elgar’s publisher). His wife is there (C.A.E. = Caroline Alice Elgar) and so is he (E.D.U. = his wife’s pet name for him, Eduard). But Elgar also loved musical riddles: enigmas, and announced that the theme of the variations was a counter-melody or accompaniment to a well-known tune. He never revealed what this was, but theories abound.


Joonas Pitkänen

Joonas Pitkänen, born in 1986, is a Finnish conductor residing in Basel, Switzerland. He attained his cello soloist diploma and graduated in Basel in 2013. Subsequently, in 2016, he earned his Master's degree in orchestral conducting in Würzburg.

In 2023, Pitkänen won the 1st prize in the Città  de Brescia – Giancarlo Facchinetti conducting competition and received a distinction in the 11th Grzegorz Fitelberg International Competition for Conductors.

The Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra holds a special place in Pitkänen’s heart. This sentiment is rooted not only in the fact that his father played in the orchestra but also because of the unique, profound string sounds the orchestra produces. Pitkänen expresses his humility at having the opportunity to do Elgar's Enigma Variations with them.

Pitkänen is a LEAD! artist, and the co-founder and Artistic Director of the Finnish concert series Feeling Blue & White in Basel. Since 2017, Joonas Pitkänen has been the Principal Conductor of the Akademisches Orchester Freiburg and has conducted the Stadtorchester Zug since 2021.

Violin 1
Jan Söderblom
Kreeta-Julia Heikkilä
Totti Hakkarainen
Eija Hartikainen
Katariina Jämsä
Helmi Kuusi
Ilkka Lehtonen
Júlia Mušáková
Kari Olamaa
Petri Päivärinne
Kalinka Pirinen
Aet Ratassepp
Satu Savioja
Elina Viitasaari
Taru Kircher

Violin 2
Anna-Leena Haikola
Teija Kivinen
Maaria Leino
Heini Eklund
Matilda Haavisto
Anna-Maria Huohvanainen
Terhi Ignatius
Sanna Kokko
Liam Mansfield
Harry Rayner
Krista Rosenberg
Virpi Taskila
Lotus Tinat
Anna Vähälä

Torsten Tiebout
Lotta Poijärvi
Aulikki Haahti-Turunen
Tuomas Huttunen
Kaarina Ikonen
Tiila Kangas
Ulla Knuuttila
Carmen Moggach
Mariette Reefman
Markus Sallinen
Hajnalka Standi-Pulakka
Aida Hadzajlic

Samuli Peltonen 
Beata Antikainen
Jaakko Rajamäki
Jaani Helander
Veli-Matti Iljin
Ilmo Saaristo
Aslihan Gencgonül
Tommi Wesslund
Anton Kukkonen
Maria Morfin Venäläinen

Ville Väätäinen
Paul Aksman
Eero Ignatius
Juraj Valencik
Teemu Kauppinen
Joonas Korjus
Saara Lassila
Yordano Nunez
Hanna-Kaarina Heikinheimo
Yuki Koyama
Janette Leván

Jussi Jaatinen
Nils Rõõmussaar
Paula Malmivaara

Anna-Maija Korsimaa
Heikki Nikula
Björn Nyman

Mikko-Pekka Svala 
Noora Van Dok
Erkki Suomalainen

Ville Hiilivirta
Sam Parkkonen
Joonas Seppelin
Ingrid Aukner

Pasi Pirinen 
Pasqual Llopis Diago
Obin Meurin
Ilari Tuominen

Anu Fagerström
Jussi Vuorinen
Darren Acosta

Ilkka Marttila

Tomi Wikström

Xavi Castelló Aràndiga
Mikael Sandström
Pasi Suomalainen
Alex Martin Agustin
Fabian Paul

Minnaleena Jankko
Katilyne Roels

Susanne Kujala


Joonas Pitkänen


    Ethel Smyth
    The Wreckers, overture
    Edward Elgar
    Enigma Variations
Musiikkitalo Concert Hall
Joonas Pitkänen
Ethel Smyth
The Wreckers, overture
Edward Elgar
Enigma Variations