The music of Lotta Wennäkoski (b. 1970) has been performed at an increasing rate around the world especially after her success with Flounce, which was commissioned by the BBC for the Proms and premiered at the ‘Last Night of the Proms’ on 9 September 2017.
Wennäkoski studied at the Budapest Conservatory before transferring to the Sibelius Academy to study theory and composition with Eero Hämeenniemi, Paavo Heininen and Kaija Saariaho. She then completed her studies in Amsterdam with Louis Andriessen. Artistic co-ordinator of the Tampere Biennale from 2008 to 2010, she was composer-in-residence of the Tapiola Sinfonietta for the 2010/2011 season. Works by her have been released on the Ondine and Alba record labels.
Lotta Wennäkoski began by composing scores for radio plays and short films. The first work designed for a concert hall was Läike (1994) for clarinet, violin and piano, first performed at a concert of innovative contemporary repertoire. Another major landmark was a focus concert of her works at the Musica nova Helsinki festival in 1999, since when she has established her reputation on the Finnish contemporary music scene as a distinctive lyricist. Her many commissions have included Sakara for orchestra (HPO/Esa-Pekka Salonen, 2003), the string quartet Culla d’aria (Kuhmo Chamber Music, 2004), Hava (Tapiola Sinfonietta, 2008) and the Flute Concerto Soie (2009) commissioned by the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra and chosen as one of the recommended works at the Unesco International Rostrum of Composers in 2012. The Scottish Chamber Orchestra commissioned an orchestral work (Verdigris) from Wennäkoski and premiered it in 2015.
Wennäkoski’s music is often marked by transparent timbres and dreamy glissandos but there is also drive, energy and humour in her works. She herself likens the composition process to baking bread: there is an idea – a recipe – according to which the ingredients are added and the dough is kneaded. Her works are designed to make a statement and she considers it important for her music to engage in dialogue with society. Vocal music therefore ranks high among her priorities, for she can then combine it with another of her passions: poetry. The song cycle Naisen rakkautta ja elämää (The Love and Life of a Woman, 2003) weaves together a modern idiom, the Romantic Lied tradition and diverse texts portraying female life. Human trafficking is the topic of her half-hour monodrama Lelele, which has been heard since its premiere at three festivals outside Finland. Other works by Lotta Wennäkoski include music for the Finnish silent movie Amor omnia, premiered in 2012 by the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, and Jong (2013), in which the soloist with a chamber orchestra is a juggler. The Kymi Sinfonietta and the Tapiola Sinfonietta co-commissioned a Guitar Concerto “Susurrus” from Lotta Wennäkoski, and it was premiered by guitarist Petri Kumela in 2017.
Among her other commissions are Flounce premiered at the Proms in 2017 by the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Sakari Oramo, Uniin asti commissioned by the Polytech Choir and the Finnish RSO and premiered in 2017 in Helsinki, and Foliage commissioned for the Turku International Cello Competition in 2018 (available both as a version for cello and piano and cello and orchestra). The Danish String Quartet premiered her String Quartet “Pige” at the Carnegie Hall on 21 April 2022 and several other performances followed. This was a commissioning project initiated by the quartet with the support of Carnegie Hall, Cal Performances, the Vancouver Recital Society, UC Santa Barbara Arts & Lectures, Flagey & Muziekgebouw. Her following string quartet Flickereth was composed for the Kamus Quartet.
Hele for 12 players was commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association and Gustavo Dudamel and premiered in 2018 conducted by Susanna Mälkki. Om fotspår och ljus (Of Footprints and Light, 2019) was a commission from the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra as the first part of a set of Helsinki Variations commissioned from six composers. The Harp Concerto ‘Sigla’, a commission from the Finnish Radio Orchestra, was premiered in May 2022 when Wennäkoski was the orchestra’s spotlight composer. It was recorded by the RSO together with her orchestral works Flounce and Sedecim, and the CD won the British Gramophone Award for the best release in the contemporary category in 2023.
Among her latest works is the violin concerto Prosoidia premiered by the BBC Symphony Orchestra and violinist Ilya Gringolts at the Barbican on 3 November 2023. The Lahti and the Norrlandsoperan Symphony Orchestras are the other commissioners. Another recent work is Ele for clarinet and orchestra was premiered on 29 September 2023 with clarinettist Lauri Sallinen and the Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra. The work was co-commissioned by Music Vitae.
The Savonlinna Opera Festival has commissioned an opera Regine from Lotta Wennäkoski. The libretto is written by Laura Krohn Voipio, and it tells the story of philosopher Søren Kierkegaard’s fiancé, Regine Olsen.
Amor Omnia Suite
for orchestra (2012/2014)
3(II+afl;III+picc)23(III=bcl)2-2221-13-hp-pf-str Percussion: Snare drum, Bass drum, 3 Suspended cymbals, Hi-hat, Tam-tam, Crotales, Vibraphone, Triangle, Wood block, Temple block, Cowbell, 2 Sandpaper blocks, Lion's roar
Five gestic scenes (2022-23)
for clarinet and string orchestra
str (126.96.36.199.1 + quintet 188.8.131.52.1) + toy whistle for the conductor
3(III=picc)2(II+ca)3(III=bcl)2(II=cfg)-422(II=btrb)1-03-hp-str Percussion: Bass Drum, 2 Cymbals, Gongs, Crotales, Xylophone, Vibraphone, Triangle, Temple block, Guiro, Cowbells, Rainstick, Slide Whistle, Vibraslap
for cello and orchestra (2017)
commissioned by Turku Cello Competition
2(II=picc)22(II=bcl)2-2100-01-str Percussion: Tom-tom, Suspended cymbal, Tam-Tam, Crotales, Vibraphone, Triangle, Vibraslap, Slide whistle
for orchestra (2008)
2(I+picc,II+afl)22(II=bcl)2-2200-01(or2)-str Percussion: Bass drum, Cymbal (also with bow), Hi-hat, Vibraphone. Triangle, Cowbell, Vibraslap, Lion's Roar
1111-1100-01-str(11111) Percussion: Snare drum, Cymbal, Tam-tam (medium), Vibraphone, Temple block (large), Sandpaper blocks, Cowbell (large), Slide whistle, Vibraslap, Lion's roar (small), Typewriter Other: Slide whistle (a toy will do), 2 Toy bird whistles
I stället för vingar
Four songs for poems by Eva-Stina Byggmästar (2014/2017)
for mezzo-soprano and ensemble
cl(+bcl)-perc-cb [SALES MATERIAL]
Music for juggler (opt.) and chamber orchestra (2013)
juggler (opt.) and chamber orchestra
1(+afl)11(+bcl)1-1000-00-str(43321) Each woodwind player also has - a recorder (of any kind, even a toy) - at least three plastic drinking straw oboes - an egg slicer (on a sounding board) - little scissors (to cut the straw) Each violinist also has a drinking straw oboe The juggler might also have some of these instruments
Kolme runoa / Three Poems
for mezzo-soprano, alto flute, bass clarinet and string quartet
1. Jos on totta 2. Sanko kumahtaa 3. Mistä tämä onnen tunne
Om fotspår och ljus
Helsinki Variations (2019)
3(III=picc)23(II+ebcl,III=bcl)2-2211-03-hp-str Percussion: I: Finger cymbal, Crotales, Vibraphone (also w/bow & wire brushes), Temple block (medium), Pair of women's shoes (w/heels) tapped against a table (or Claves) II: Bass drum, Cymbal (also w/bow & wire brushes), Tam-tam (also w/super ball stick), Wood block (large), Cowbell (large) III: Crotale (C# in the middle register, also w/bow), Xylophone, Temple block (large, also w/wire brushes), Shell chimes, Vibraslap, Pair of women's shoes (w/heels) tapped against a table (or Castanet machine)
Violin Concerto (2022-2023)
for violin and orchestra
3(I+afl,II+bfl,III=picc).2.3(III=bcl).2(II=cfg)-asax-184.108.40.206-1.2-pf-hp-str Percussion: Bass drum, 2 Cymbals, Tam-tam, 9 Gongs or cymbals, Crotales, Marimba, Vibraphone, Triangle, Temple block, Shell chimes, Ratchet, Sandpaper blocks, Flexatone, 2 Slide whistles, Rainstick, 9 Metal plates, Lion's roar
for flute and orchestra (2008-2009)
flute and orchesra
3(III=picc)23(III=bcl)2-2211-02-pf-hp-str Percussion: Bass drum, 2 suspended cymbals, Splash/Chinese cymbal, Tam-tam, Crotales, Vibraphone, Triangle, Cowbell, Guiro, Sandpaper blocks, Vibraslap, Lion's roar
for guitar and orchestra (2016)
2(II+afl+picc)22(II=bcl)2-2200-01-str Percussion: Snare drum, Cymbal, Tam-tam, 3 Crotales, 3 Temple blocks, Ratchet, Slide whistle, Vibraslap, Lion's roar, Plastic ruler, Ukulele
for male choir and orchestra
3(II+afl,III=picc)2(II=ca)3(III=bcl)2(II=cfg)-422(II=btrb)0-03-pf-hp-str Percussion: Bass Drum, Cymbals a2, Suspended Cymbal, Tam-tam, Gong, Crotales, Marimba, Xylophone, Triangle, 2 Temple Blocks, Guiro, Ratchet, Lion's Roar, Slide Whistle, 2 Vibraslaps, Sandpaper Blocks, Rain Stick, 2 Party Horns (low & high sound), Slapstick
for chamber orchestra
for recorder, percussion and strings (2019)
sopranino & alto recorder, perc, str quintet/str orch Percussion (1 player): 2 Timpani, Suspended cymbal, Crotales, Triangle, Castanets, Whip, Guiro, Ratchet, Vibraslap, Slide whistle, Drinking glass with straw
Watch Lotta Wennäkoski who tells about Jong (in Swedish)
Soie for flute and chamber orchestr
Amor Omnia Suite, for orchestra
Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra/Dima Slobodeniouk (Ondine ODE-1259-2)