Affekt (2016-2017)


For choirs and orchestra 3333 4331 12 1, str, chf, chm, 2chx

Duration 45′

Fp Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra and the members of the 17 choirs from HSMF conducted by Leif Segerstam, Helsinki Music Centre, Finland, 20.10.2017

Commissioned by Helsingfors sång- och musikförbund for its 100th anniversary.

Written to texts by Mårten Westö.


Affekt addresses the memories, emotional states (”affects”) and experiences caused by parting and separation. The piece illustrates the viewpoints of both parties; the conflicting memories and the difficulty of letting go. The two sides engage in a fragmentary dialogue of which the tone and direction changes as time goes by.

Written for 17 amateur choirs, in total 250 singers and a large professional orchestra, my goal was to find a diverse way to express my musical ideas in a way that is not restricting or thinking that one couldn’t challenge or demand too much of amateur singers, in stead finding ways that are accessible and functional for the chorists yet nonetheless achieving the same desired result.

Affekt is a process, but a shattered one – what’s important are the different states of mind involved, the music reflecting their unpredictability and contrasts, and the shattered nature of memories. The characters range from monotony and melancholy to temporary despair and frenzy to playfulness and lightness.

Despite its massive proportions, Affekt is about something intimate and human. Present in the music is the idea of capturing particular moments and their distinct moods (affects). Though the topic is introverted, the large ensemble, with its large choir, reaches out and allows challenging and stretching boundaries. This results in a kind of intensity that conveys a focal point of my musical thinking; an idea that taking risks may generate something unexpected and enchanting.


21.10.2017, Huvudstadsbladet, Mats Liljeroos  

”Hilli clearly has something big and exciting going on: a movement towards, as it seems, unexplored domains that tickle curiosity vigorously […] 

Ultimately, it is about whether the composer had something important to say and if they were able to say that in a personal way. The final proved to be the case with Hilli’s 45-minute, nine-movement work for choir and orchestra, Affekt, where both the treatment of the orchestra and the synthesis of styles appeared to be astonishingly original. Hilli blends together influences from here and there in an unprejudiced manner and the aesthetics are neither distinctly modernist nor traditional  ”


19.10.2017, Huvudstadsbladet, article by Wilhelm Kvist

Something big is probably taking place at Helsinki Music Center on Friday. 250 choir singers premiere Sebastian Hilli’s newly written Affekt 


Excerpt from 2nd movement ”Spegelbildens plågsamma monotoni”:

Video footage of the rehearsals of Affekt and interview in Swedish by Huvudstadsbladet:

Sheet music