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photo of Kaija Saariaho

Kaija Saariaho, 2015 Bloch Professor in Music

After nearly three years of advance planning, world-renowned composer Kaija Saariaho took up residence in Berkeley as the 2015 Bloch Professor in Music. Everybody pitched in including the Department of Music, The Townsend Center for the Humanities, the Center for New Music and Audio Technologies (CNMAT), The Berkeley Symphony, The University Symphony, The San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, the ECO Ensemble, the Left Coast Ensemble and many others. I was able to coordinate Saariaho’s residency with a number of ancillary visits from her equally famous collaborators. Her husband, composer and audiovisual artist, Jean-Baptiste Barrière, accepted an invitation to be the first recipient of the David Wessel Residency in Music and Science; Cellist and Regent’s Lecturer Anssi Karttunen agreed to be the soloist in the Cal Performances Saariaho portrait concert with David MIlnes and the ECO Ensemble; Camilla Hoitenga, Jennifer Koh, and Susanna Malkki all agreed to appear on the stage with Ms. Saariaho for lectures and live performances. Cal Performances’ Matias Tarnolpolsky moderated the lecture series with Department of Music faculty Mary Ann Smart and others. It was miraculous that everyone showed up, and it all added up to a marvelous Bay Area festival surrounding the work of Kaija Saariaho. We are looking forward to welcoming Ms. Saariaho back at Berkeley this summer as a guest of Cal Performances OJAI North Festival.

Edmund Campion
Professor of Music
Director, Center for New Music and Audio Technologies

In addition to master classes and private lessons with student composers, Ms. Saariaho participated in a number of appearances, including five public Bloch lectures featuring conversations with several of her distinguished collaborators and a colloquium featuring violinist Jennifer Koh. Ms. Saariaho also appeared at other Bay Area venues in San Francisco, Berkeley, and Mill Valley, with many performances by the Berkeley Symphony, Cal Performances Eco Ensemble, the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, and Left Coast Ensemble. Her residency was sponsored by the UC Berkeley Department of Music, the Center for New Music and Audio Technologies, Cal Performances, and the Townsend Center for the Humanities.

In a Center for New Music online review, Adam Fong writes that the Saariaho residency is a “reassertion of the SF Bay Area as an international new music hub…the Bay Area’s community of enthusiasts for new, experimental, creative music has long been supercharged by a steady influx of artists from across the musical spectrum,” (including composer-performer-educator George Lewis two years ago), centered around the UC Berkeley Department of Music and CNMAT.