Already the ancient Romans…

Welcome to the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra’s Italian season in 2019-2020!

Probably no other single European country has influenced Europe’s cultural identity and history as much as Italy. Its centuries-long traditions in the visual arts, architecture, music and literature continue to be astonishingly present in everyday life in Italy. Italian art has always been strongly rooted in history, which may explain – somewhat paradoxically – why aesthetic expression and even freedom have flourished there.

Luciano Berio, one of the most socially aware composers of the 20th century, is like the Fellini of music, combining everything with great abundance and love. Luigi Nono, with his severity and clean lines, is the opposite. Sciarrino's music is whispering and reflective, while Ottorino Respighi at the beginning of the last century was inspired by the Renaissance when he gave new birth to Italian music that did not shy away from loud volumes.

Whether the inspiration came from nature, other art forms, religion or politics, all Italian culture seems to share an incomparable sense of style and finesse, a light touch that nevertheless conceals great humanism. Theatre too is ever-present in Italy, both in everyday life and on concert stages –

not to mention opera. Even Fellini walked in Rossini’s footsteps! Joy and sorrow go hand in hand, and sometimes the illusion is truer and more honest than reality. It has been said that, in Italy, art has always been close to the soul of the people, since those in power cannot be trusted. To love art is to love humanity. Perhaps this is cause for optimism in the future?

This season we also introduce the Helsinki Series, in which contemporary Finnish composers have been invited to seek inspiration for new music from Finnish music from the past. The first composers in the series are Lotta Wennäkoski and Kimmo Hakola.

I wish you a very warm welcome to the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra’s Italian season in 2019-2020!

Susanna Mälkki
Chief Conductor