HBL review of premiere of Miracle for orchestra written by Mats Liljeroos
Translation: ”Sebastian Hilli’s Miracle is original and thoroughly honest music for our time
From collapse to euphoria
The most phenomenal achievement, however, was Sebastian Hilli in the commissioned work Miracle (2020), of which the creation coincides with a personal tragedy; the loss of a family member due to covid-19. Hilli, however, is not the one who buries himself into sorrow or unnecessarily wallows in self-pity and after the orchestral collapse, the music gradually works its way up to brighter, even euphoric views leading to the realization that nothing is as it used to be, but that life is still worth living.
Above all, Hilli is not the one who repeats himself unnecessarily, and although the choice of work title can appear as if not directly presumptuous, then at least slightly pretentious, perhaps even a bit kitschy, in the end it is exactly a miracle it’s all about.
The brocade of style influences and allusions, from popular music to avant-garde, Hilli weaves together over the course of twenty minutes is way too abundant and intricately designed to be verbalized in this space and it strikes me that the whole discussion of modernism versus conservatism, difficult and easily accessible, tonal and atonal, in this particular case feels unusually meaningless, blunt in purpose and meaning.
This music does not sound like anything else I have heard before – how often do you have reason to say this about a piece by a 30-year-old composer? – and even if I could possibly think of a Kimmo Hakola or an Anders Hillborg accomplishing something in that direction, the Hillian expression feels completely original, meaningful, fresh and, not least, thoroughly honest. This is the music of our time in all its glory, where everything is allowed for those who are up for the challenge.”
Rondo review of premiere of Miracle for orchestra written by Harri Kuusisaari
Translation: ”As good as the music offered throughout the evening was, Sebastian Hilli’s novelty became the main course. He has already proven in the past that he masters the apparatus of a large orchestra and has found his own voice as a fuser of various style influences. This time, his music also took on an even more personal and heart-rending tone, as during Miracle’s composing process, the illness caused by the coronavirus became the fate of his family member.
This background is heard in the music, however Hilli hasn’t written any corona monument whatsoever but rather elevated personal emotions to the universal by shaping the arc of an impressive drama. It begins with a steady rhythmic ticking that describes the passage of time and everyday life. Then comes more and more ominous hunches and fearful stops.
After the disaster, emptiness follows. The low brass sonorities with the trombone glissandos sound the bottomlessness of grief, and the orchestra reflects the echoes of silence. Then, from the state of paralysis, a rhythmic movement begins to rise, as if a stagnant clock came to life. It circulates from one instrument to another and gets increasingly swinging twists until the drive accelerates to truly wild.
The suction is so organic that the listener is caught up in the process of liberation holistically. The repeated rewinding of notes is reminiscent of minimalism, and the grandness of the chords and chorales at times brings to mind even Messiaen’s apotheoses of love. Quite some comparisons, but Hilli carries out everything so sincerely and seriously that no quoting even comes to mind.
Lintu and the FRSO expressed the work with passion, and Beethoven’s Second Symphony was played with the wings of optimism risen from the work.”
Premiere of Miracle for orchestra available for worldwide listening
Premiere of Miracle, commissioned by the Finnish Broadcasting Company and performed by the Finnish Radio Symphony, conducted by Hannu Lintu at the farewell concert of Chief Conductor Hannu Lintu available for worldwide listening.
Sebastian Hilli Joins Schott Music
The traditional German publishing house Schott Music starts to publish music by composer Sebastian Hilli.
The publishing partnership with Schott Music commences with the orchestral works Peach and Miracle followed by new compositions for Ensemble Musikfabrik, Uusinta Ensemble, Time of Music Festival, Gaudeamus Festival, International Ensemble Modern Academy and IRCAM.
Founded in 1770, Schott Music is the second oldest publishing house in Europe and one of the world’s largest publishers of classical music. Composers published by Schott Music include Wagner, Strauss, Stravinsky, Ligeti, Zimmerman, Takemitsu, Czernowin, Widmann, Vasks and Eötvös, among others.
HBL review of Sebastian Hilli’s profile album written by Mats Liljeroos
Translation: ”In the new modernist generation of composers, Sebastian Hilli is one of the younger and most uncompromising. His visit card CD is dumbfoundingly virtuosically realized and a pretty handsome feather in his hat.
[…] He feels an attraction to orchestral means of expression, which gives him fruitful opportunities to realize even the most expansive visions, but seems to find himself well even with a chamber musical arsenal, which he stretches and ties to almost the breaking point.
Unruly musical imagination
Which would be proved by this fresh record with three chamber music works from the mid-2010s, where Hilli gives free rein to his extremely unruly musical imagination, while he indulges in a sonorous filigree work of a rarely-seen kind.
[…] The basic grip is, as in the album’s other works, clearly avant-garde but a renunciation of all forms of academicism and provided with a rather irresistible twinkle in eye-quality, gossiping that the music could not have been written earlier than this millennium.”
Sebastian Hilli’s profile album on Music Finland staff picks Favourite Finnish albums of 2020
”The lack of live concert experiences in 2020 has made me value recordings that make the listener to truly concentrate and take the time for listening, just like you would in a concert hall. There have been many such intense listening experiences this year. This time my album pick is composer Sebastian Hilli’s profile album ”confluence / divergence” with Uusinta Ensemble, Petri Kumela and conductor József Hárs.
The three chamber music works are all different in style and atmosphere, each of them taking the listener to a unique journey to worlds unknown. It is music that moves in tranquil meditation as well as in speed and surprises, it transforms and excites – revealing something new each time you hear the music.”
FMQ review of Sebastian Hilli’s profile album written by Anna Pulkkis
”Sebastian Hilli’s (b. 1990) confluence / divergence (2013–2015), a 30-minute work for solo guitar and small ensemble sweeps the listener straight into a breath-taking flow of imaginative sounds, produced through a variety of unconventional playing techniques. The instruments imitate each other and become a deceptive multi-instrument that dissolves the border between the soloist and the ensemble; Petri Kumela and the other musicians do an outstanding work. The deep groans in the second of the three movements are quite extraordinary, whereas the playful third feels somewhat prolonged before the final culmination.
Elogio de la sombra (2015) for string quartet transforms into music nine poems by Argentinian Jorge Luis Borges. Mirrors, darkness, and tigers give rise to a musical whole that is as unpredictable as it is rich in colour, a fascinating play between moments of calm, passion, and feverish activity.
Paraphrase II – ’Giant steps and eden acid’ (2016) for flute, clarinet, piano, violin, viola, and cello was inspired by the bebop of John Coltrane as well as acid house music of the 1980s. The tirelessly energetic music becomes rawer and jerkier towards the end, as if it were shown in a more and more ruthless light. Small irregularities in the pounding beat remind the listener of the fact that it is produced by musicians, not by a machine.”
Helsingin sanomat review of Sebastian Hilli’s profile album written by Jukka Isopuro
Translation: ”Sebastian Hilli is having a rich dialogue on the verge of noise and sound. The concerto for guitar and small ensemble confluence/divergence begins with Petri Kumela’s wild guitar rush. By rubbing the strings of a harp or guitar with a superball, a ghostly groaning sound is created. Dedicated to Jorge Luis Borges, Elogio de la sombra is divided into distinctive, poetic characters. With ethereal rustle and angry tears, Paraphrase II eventually turns into a clacking machine. The performances of the technically difficult works are superb […]”
Rondo review of Sebastian Hilli’s profile album written by Auli Särkiö-Pitkänen
Translation: ”Sebastian Hilli (b. 1990) has already garnered a well-deserved reputation, especially with his award-winning orchestral works. With the release of the Austrian new music record label Kairos, the virtuoso Uusinta Ensemble presents Hilli’s fine chamber works from a few years ago.
References and meanings accumulate into complex but easily perceived, immersive worlds. Hallucinations, trance and turmoil are typical states of being. Momentum and details are plentiful, but Hilli’s strength is the ability to construct his works into flowing entities in which each element is thought out without the control limiting the liberation of expression. Both the form solutions and the sonorous details are delightful in the works. […]”
Sebastian Hilli’s profile album published by Kairos available on Spotify
Sebastian Hilli’s debut profile album confluence/divergence is available on Spotify. Published by Kairos Music, performed by Uusinta Ensemble and Petri Kumela, conducted by József Hárs.
Premiere of Cinema for string orchestra available for listening for 30 days
Premiere of Cinema, commissioned and performed by the Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Janne Nisonen at the Kokkola 400 years Jubilee Concert is broadcasted by Yle Radio 1. The recording of the premiere is available for listening for 30 days (the piece starts at 14:16).
Sebastian Hilli’s debut profile album confluence/divergence available now. Published by Kairos Music, performed by Uusinta Ensemble and Petri Kumela, conducted by József Hárs.
Translation: ”The concert was opened by Sebastian Hilli’s The Tempered Suite for microtonal guitar. Its instrument is an acoustic microtonal guitar, of which the movable frets also allowed a version of Rousseau’s tempérament ordinaire.
The work took its form from a lute suite, and many of the names of the movements are familiar to Baroque music: Allemande, Courante, Sarabande and Gigue. However, the first movement, Trance, began with a dark stage and a one-tone hypnotic repetition. Popular music was also referenced to in the funky movement called Disco and also the House-movement.
Kumela was in his element and played Hilli’s mix of dance music and reminiscence of Baroque music brilliantly. The refreshing and successful concert was another feather in the cap for the young success Sebastian Hilli (b.1990) […]”
Translation: ”The award-winning composer Sebastian Hilli challenges himself every time he writes a new piece: he always uses a new approach to composing to avoid repeating himself. The inspiration for a work can come for example from the title. Snap Music was born when its name, which evokes its musical imagery, was invented.”
”He’s lost control – Composer Sebastian Hilli pushes the boundaries of classical structures”
”For composer Sebastian Hilli the concept of sticking to one musical genre or formula is too limiting. We interview the Teosto Prize winning composer, whose influences range from contemporary classical to psychedelic rock to free jazz and back.”
”More interesting was Bird, the new piece that Sebastian Hilli, winner of the 2018 Gaudeamus Award, composed for Asko|Schönberg. It is a cheerful amalgam of loud staccato blasts from the ensemble, intersected with sudden silences. Hilli creates a lively question-and-answer game that bounces from jazzy percussion and big-band brass to cheery marching band sounds and exhilarating poppy dance music. The percussionist plays a brilliant solo on bass drum and hi-hat, the pianist pounds out roaring chords on her grand piano.
A star role is reserved for the solo trumpeter, Bird turning out to be a sort of trumpet concert in disguise. Trumpeter Bas Duister has an unprecedentedly beautiful tone full of colour shades, and effortlessly produces the highest notes in virtuoso melodies. The work ends with a parody of the endlessly repeated chords with which classical composers like Beethoven conclude their pieces. Every time you think it’s over, a squeaking piccolo screams for attention. A wonderful piece that sends you home with a cheerful feeling. Gaudeamus could not have wished for a better finale to its 69th edition.”
Translation: ”In honor of Jubilee, a new work had been commissioned by Sebastian Hilli, who seems to go from clarity to clarity. A ten-minute miniature is a grateful format, and in the new work Peach Hilli mainly explores textures and colors rather than melodic material. Here, the strings form a calm mat with small ripples on the surface, while the small, powerful color clicks stand out: some wild accents in the brass section, woodwinds ticking like small woodpeckers. The percussion colors are utilized clearly, so that every individual instrument gets its color heard, from timpani to tubular bells. The strings are also allowed to give their all in quantities of Bartók pizzicato, which slam in cascades of sharp shots. To my taste, Ekenäs church is still in the smaller side for the orchestral fireworks of Hilli. ”
The 2019 Teosto Prize was awarded to Sebastian Hilli’s composition Snap Music together with Color Dolor’s album Love.
Awarded for the 16th time, the Teosto Prize is one of the most noteworthy art prizes in the Nordic countries. The Teosto Prize is awarded to bold, original and innovative works. When there are two winners, the prize for each is EUR 20,000.
The jury selected the winners from among nominees set by a preliminary selection panel, comprising last year’s Teosto Prize winners Astrid Swan (jury chairman) and Joona Toivanen, as well as professor Tuija Hakkila-Helasvuo (The Sibelius Academy) and Music Director Jussi Mäntysaari (Nelonen Media’s radios) as members invited by the Teosto management group.
Sebastian Hilli’s orchestral piece Snap Music is nominated for the 2019 Teosto Prize, one of the biggest art prizes in the Nordic Countries. The Teosto Prize is awarded to bold, original and innovative works. If the prize is awarded for a single musical work or piece, the prize is EUR 25,000. If the prize is awarded for multiple works, the maximum prize sum is EUR 40,000.
The jury said about Snap Music:
”In his work, Hilli paints an astonishingly accurate picture of our time – turbocharged, faster than its own voice and prone to bloating with too much information – that grates on our power of observation. The composition skillfully dances on the edge of chaos, absorbing energy and inspiration from it.”
Premiere of Butterfly Curve available for listening for 30 days
Butterfly Curve was premiered by Norrbotten NEO and conducted by Aaron Holloway-Nahum in Piteå, Sweden on February 4th.
The piece was commissioned by International Music Council and Swedish Radio after Sebastian Hilli’s Reachings for orchestra was chosen as the selected work in the ’Composers under 30’ category at the 64th International Rostrum of Composers in 2017.
Translation: ”Snap Music demonstrated why Lintu and FRSO are considered a brilliant contemporary music team – and why Hilli has been poured with praise and honor. Already the first minutes built up a multi-layered, rich work. Psychological snapping, the straw that broke the camel’s back or ”flipping”, according to modern-day anglicism, was the dramaturgical-emotional backbone of the work, which was transmitted not only in its arc, but also in subtle, even subconscious archaic affects, concentration-absorbing thrilling atmosphere and repeated motives fleeting precise perception. The fight between order and chaos was high-level orchestration and astonishing knowledge of sonorities and extended playing techniques.”
Premiere of Snap Music for orchestra available for listening worldwide
Premiere of Snap Music, performed by the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Hannu Lintu at the FRSO Independence Day Gala Concert available for worldwide listening.
”Un nuovo compositore si aggira per l’Europa. Un compositore da seguire con grande attenzione […] ”
Translation: ”A new composer is wandering around Europe. A composer to be followed with great care […]”
Sebastian Hilli won the Gaudeamus Award 2018 on Sunday 9 September at the end of the Gaudeamus Muziekweek 2018. Hilli joins the ranks of lauded earlier winners including Peter Schat, Michel van der Aa and Louis Andriessen.
The jury – consisting of composers Mayke Nas, Nicole Lizée and Richard Ayres – said about Hilli: “Sebastian Hilli has a very personal aesthetic that is underlying all of his music, and he possesses the technical knowledge and imagination to realize what he is driven to create. His music combines bold structures with a huge variety of subtle sonic detail.”
Hilli was chosen as a winner out of 336 works submitted from 43 countries around the world.
Translation: ”What perhaps makes Hilli more interesting than many other composers is that his music virtually lacks the artificial sweetness, which nowadays destroys music as much as yogurt. Hilli’s music, on the other hand, gives a lot of chewing resistance, and in it flourishes an ambitious desire for experimenting in a unprejudiced context. […]
Hilli’s music may be rougher than many of the colleagues and in the most fierce parts he can sound almost mechanical (for example, in Paraphrase II built on Coltranes Giant Steps). In his finest moments he is particularly sophisticated, especially in all the quietest nuances. What became clear to me now, after hearing the chamber music from the past five years, is what an exquisite touch Hilli has for sound colors and how much effort he has put into finding them.”
Translation: ”Hilli has a distinctive voice and the ability to convincingly follow it. He enjoys staying at the edge of strength and fragility and moves music in a sophisticated but at the same time relaxed manner. He’s compositional style is tightly attached to the continuum of modernism with its complex textures and extended playing techniques but at the same time Hilli isn’t afraid to compose descriptive music that progresses in broad arcs. This is a fascinating combination.”
The 7th Composition Competition of the Christoph Delz Foundation is held in collaboration with the Lucerne Festival. The jury consisting of Nicolas Hodges, Lisa Streich, Marco Stroppa, Michel Roth (Christoph Delz Foundation) and Mark Sattler (Lucerne Festival) selected three finalists whose commissioned solo piano pieces will be premiered by Nicolas Hodges at the Lucerne Piano Festival 2018 in Switzerland on 24th November.
”[…] While Hilli’s music is very technical and virtuoso, the sounding result isn’t difficult per se. It is rather quite direct. Or better, Hilli tries to convey something purely musical, something that touches the listener, but isn’t quite clear: “When I started composing I was mostly interested in the part that I couldn’t describe. Where is this music coming from, and the ideas? These are little things that draw me towards music. That still fascinates me, those musical gestures that create an atmosphere with a character of mysticism.”
The Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra will premiere Snap Music, commissioned by the Finnish Radio Broadcasting Company Yle, at the 6th of December 2018 Independence Day Gala Concert, conducted by Hannu Lintu. The concert will be broadcasted by Yle.
The Gaudeamus Award is a talent award for young composers under the age of 30. Since the prize was first awarded in 1957, it has established itself internationally as a highly sought after and renowned award for young music pioneers. From over 336 scores from 43 different countries, Sebastian Hilli is one of the six nominated composers for the prestigious award. Three of his works, including a new commission, will be featured at the Gaudeamus Muziekweek 2018 in Utrecht, Netherlands.
Video recording of the premiere of Affekt for choirs and orchestra performed by Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, Leif Segerstam and the choirs of Helsingfors sång- och musikförbund is now available for worldwide viewing for 30 days.
Translation: ”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 […]”
Translation: ”Hilli clearly has something big and exciting going on: a movement towards, as it seems, unexplored domains that tickle curiosity vigorously […]
”Något stort äger troligtvis rum på Musikhuset på fredag. 250 körsångare uruppför då Sebastian Hillis nyskrivna Affekt […]”
Translation: ”Something big is probably taking place at Helsinki Music Center on Friday. 250 choir singers premiere Sebastian Hilli’s newly written Affekt […] ”
Recording of Elogio de la sombra from the Time of Music -festival in Viitasaari, Finland is now available for worldwide listening for 30 days. Performed by Bozzini Quartet, presented in the radio programme Ajassa soi by Yle Radio 1.
Recording of Sebastian Hilli’s Composer Portrait Concert from the Time of Music -festival in Viitasaari, Finland is now available for worldwide listening for 30 days. The recording includes the premiere of Hilli’s guitar concerto confluence/divergence performed by Petri Kumela and Uusinta Ensemble and Paraphrase II – ”Giant steps and eden acid” performed by Uusinta Ensemble. The pieces were conducted by Jósef Hárs.
Reachings for orchestra (2014) was the selected work in the ”Composers under 30” category in the 64th International Rostrum of Composers. The 2017 Rostrum, held in Palermo from May 15 to 19, gathered representatives from 29 national radio networks from four continents.
The performance of Reachings by the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra is one of the presented works representing the Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE in the 64th International Rostrum of Composers. The Rostrum will take place in Palermo, Italy from 15 to 19 May 2017.
Watch the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra and conductor André de Ridder perform Reachings for orchestra at the opening concert of Musica nova Helsinki festival.
Elogio de la sombra for string quartet was selected by the Finnish selection to be performed at the UNM festival in Reykjavík in 2017. A total number of 83 works were sent in by 50 composers in the call for scores.
”Award-winning young composers Sebastian Hilli and Sauli Zinovjev unveil new works at the opening of Helsinki’s Musica nova Helsinki festival in February. While their musical styles are starkly different, the two are close friends who share a similar creative vision.”
”Nelikymmenminuuttinen teos 500 laulajan suurkuorolle ja Helsingin kaupunginorkesterille – kuka tällaisia sävellystilauksia enää saa? Sebastian Hilli (s.1990) sai. Nousevalta säveltäjältä esitetään helmikuussa Helsingin Musica Nova -festivaalilla puolestaan kansainvälisen Toru Takemitsu -sävellyskilpailun voittanut orkesteriteos Reachings.”
”Nykytaide on jatkuvassa muutostilassa. Taiteenlajit kurottuvat yli rajojensa, eikä musiikkikaan enää välttämättä ilmene nuottiviivaston pisteistä muodostuvina teoksina. Miten säveltäjä navigoi virtauksissa?”
Elogio de la sombra for string quartet, presented in the radio programme Aikamme suomalaista musiikkia by Yle Radio 1.
Broadcast of the performance of Paraphrase III – ”Soave dolore” for windquintet premiered at the Crusell Music Festival by Arktinen Hysteria.
Review of the performance at the Crusell Music Festival of Paraphrase III – Soave dolore premiered by Arktinen Hysteria in Hufvudstadsbladet.
Interview in Hufvudstadsbladet: ”Sebastian Hilli – tonsättare i görningen”
The Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra will perform the Finnish premiere of the award-winning Reachings for orchestra at the Musica nova Helsinki festival in February 2017. The piece will be conducted by the artistic director of the festival, conductor André de Ridder.
To celebrate its 100-year anniversary HSMF commissions a large work for choirs and orchestra from Sebastian Hilli. The commission is for several choirs with up to 250 singers and large orchestra. The work will be premiered in Helsinki Music Center the 20th of October in 2017 by Helsinki philharmonic orchestra and the members of the 17 choirs from HSMF conducted by Leif Segerstam.
The premiere of Elogio de la sombra for string quartet will be performed by the Kamus quartet at Kaustinen Chamber Music Week. The concert will be broadcasted live by Yle Radio 1 the 28th of January at 19.03.
Reachings for orchestra was selected by the Finnish selection to be performed at the UNM festival in Aarhus in 2016. A record number of 56 artists participated in the call for scores, with a total of 83 works.
”Being a freelance composer is much like being an entrepreneur – for one thing, your career development is entirely in your own hands. “You cannot wait and expect someone else to do it for you,” says composer Sebastian Hilli”
Sebastian Hilli has won the first prize at the Toru Takemitsu Composition Award 2015 in Tokyo, Japan. Hilli’s work Reachings for orchestra shared the first prize with Yiğit Kolat’s piece [difeKãs] for orchestra. The winners of the competition were chosen by composer Kaija Saariaho. The final concert was performed by the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra on May 31 which was also the premiere for Hilli’s winning composition. Reachings was originally chosen of 151 entries from 44 countries to the finals of the competition by the judge Saariaho.
Kaija Saariaho stated about the composition:
”Reachings struck me by its determined sense of formal plan and its realization. The music is directional, yet surprising. An intense concentration is carrying the music through the work. The music has an urge to advance, but it is done under a control so that the musical energy is well balanced, and the music breathes naturally.The range of different musical characters is large and emotionally fulfilling. The fresh quality of music reaches the very end of the piece. The orchestration is effective throughout and the score enjoyable to read in its clarity.”
Reachings for orchestra was chosen of 151 entries from 44 countries to the finals of Toru Takemitsu Composition Award 2015 by the judge Kaija Saariaho.
The final concert:
15:00, Sun. 31 May, 2015
Tokyo Opera City Concert Hall: Takemitsu Memorial
Kazumasa Watanabe, conductor
Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra