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.


Known for his highly intensive, crisply structured compositions, Hilli’s subjects range from the literature of Jorge Luis Borges in Elogio de la sombra to biology in works like Hypha and Delta inspired by web like fungi and river deltas, and the psychological expectations of the human mind in Kohta and Reachings.


Hilli’s references to certain historical styles in his Paraphrase-series, paraphrasing Coltarne’s Giant steps and acid house music, Gesulado’s madrigal ”O dolorosa gioia” etc., are conscious attempts to deal with the issues of style and identity. Fascinated by the intensity of music as the focal point of his musical thinking, his works always emerge from the question of how to achieve this in various ways.


The nuanced exploration of instrumental sounds in Arachne, with its brutal, industrial sound world, energetic and complex textures of Hypha and 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.


Winning the 1st prize in the Toru Takemitsu Composition Award in 2015 gave Hilli’s work international recognition. In 2017, Hilli’s Reachings for orchestra was the selected work in the  ’Composers under 30 category’ at the 64th International Rostrum of Composers and will receive worldwide broadcasting. Several of his works have been performed at various festivals in Finland and abroad including Norway, Austria, US, Japan, Denmark, Germany 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, Arktinen Hysteria, Uusinta Ensemble, Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra and Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra have performed his music. Recent projects include commissions for Crusell Music Festival and Uusinta Ensemble. Currently he is working on a large-scale commission for the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra and a 500-member choir that will be premiered in November 2017.


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.