“At first, the music felt so big and important that it seemed difficult to think that I could add anything to it.”
Join us for a special screening of Echoes of the Universe – The Music of Kaija Saariaho (dir. Riitta Rask, Finland 2023), a documentary honoring the late Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho, followed by a Q&A with Saariaho’s family, director Riita Rask and moderated by Richard Kessler, Executive Dean of the College of Performing Arts at the New School.
Echoes of the Universe is a tribute to the life and work of the beloved Finnish contemporary composer Kaija Saariaho, who passed away this summer in the fifth decade of her career. This intimate documentary traces Saariaho’s full life story, from her childhood in Helsinki, to her education at Finland’s Sibelius Academy and the Freiburg Conservatory of Music, to her esteemed career in Paris. Echoes of the Universe includes never-before-seen footage from several 2022 rehearsals of Saariaho’s masterpiece, Innocence, before its performance at the Finnish National Opera in October of that year. Innocence, the conductor’s harrowing work based on a school shooting that reverberates physically as well as sonically, premiered in summer 2021 at the Aix-en-Provence Festival to critical acclaim.
In addition to Helsinki and Tampere, the documentary was filmed in Denmark’s Ebeltoft, Paris, Venice, and Barcelona. During her career, Saariaho has received 24 international awards and recognitions, including a Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the 2021 Venice Biennale. The New York Times has called Saariaho the most important contemporary composer of 2021. Echoes of the Universe was made to thank the composer for her impressive gifts to Finnish and international music.