The often-abstract themes in Sebastian Hilli’s (b.1990, Helsinki) works have in common the composer’s fascination with structure and the relationship between non-musical concepts and their transcription into musical ideas. Fascinated by the intensity of music as the focal point of his musical thinking, Hilli’s works always emerge from the question of how to achieve this in various ways.


Known for his highly energetic, crisply structured compositions, Hilli’s subjects range from the literature of Jorge Luis Borges to biology and the psychological expectations of the human mind. Hilli’s references to certain historical styles in his Paraphrase-series, paraphrasing John Coltarne, acid house music and Gesualdo, are conscious attempts to deal with the issues of style and identity.


The nuanced exploration of instrumental sounds in Arachne, with its brutal, industrial sound world, energetic and complex textures of Hypha and the painfully sorrow, tranquil character of Paraphrase III, also show the composer’s emotional and expressional versatility and speaks of his curiosity of always seeking for new ways of expression.


Despite his young age Hilli has already garnered international acclaim and recognition. His first orchestral work Reachings won the 1st prize in the Toru Takemitsu Composition Award in 2015 as well as the ’Composers under 30 category’ at the 64th International Rostrum of Composers in 2017 and received worldwide broadcasting. Hilli has since been nominated for the Gaudeamus Award 2018 and three of his chamber works, including a new commission, will be featured at the Gaudeamus Muziekweek 2018 in Utrecht, Netherlands.


Several of Hilli’s works have been performed at various festivals in Finland and abroad including Norway, Austria, US, Japan, Denmark, Germany, Iceland and Ukraine. Ensembles such as Avanti!, Zagros, Curious Chamber Players, Esbjerg Ensemble, NYKY-ensemble, Cikada, Ensemble Mise-en, Ensemble Recherche, Sed Contra Ensemble, Kamus-Quartet, Bozzini Quartet, Siggi Quartet, Arktinen Hysteria, Uusinta Ensemble, Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra  and Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra have performed his music. Recent projects include commissions for Uusinta Ensemble and a large-scale commission for the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra and a 250-member choir.


Hilli holds a Master’s degree in Composition from Sibelius Academy in Helsinki where he studied with Veli-Matti Puumala and Lauri Kilpiö. He also studied a year in Vienna with Michael Jarrell, and has participated master classes with e.g. Jukka Tiensuu, Jouni Kaipainen, Hans Abrahamsen, Simon Steen-Andersen, Philippe Manoury, Martijn Padding and Mark Andre.


Currently Hilli works as a freelancer with a 3-year grant from the Finnish Cultural Foundation.