Tapio Tuomela

The second Kalevala Society Award was granted on Kalevala Day, on 28 February 2005, to composer Tapio Tuomela. Tuomela (b. 1958) is an internationally renowned composer and orchestra director, whose many works reflect an interest in Finnish archaic cultural history and the Northern nature. In the last few years, these elements have only gotten stronger. The French piece Songs and Spells (2000), made to order for ten singers and two instruments, was born from the collected verse of the Kanteletar. The kantele also has pride of place in, e.g., The Spell of Lemmi (2000) and Rime (2001).

Photo Ulla Piela

Photo Ulla Piela

Mothers and Daughters (1999), Tuomela’s Lemminkäinen-related opera composed for Paavo Haavikko’s aphoristic libretto, is one of the landmarks of Finnish modern opera. In this work, the Kalevala aesthetic, folk verse, an unpretentious singing style and the legacy of modernism exist in equilibrium and feed into each other. Ma se ani om (2002) continues Tuomela’s archaic-modernist quest.

Tuomela’s chamber orchestra masterpiece Jokk (1997) has its roots in a fishing trip to the Näätämöjoki River. The same emotions can be felt in Lappic (2003), composed for a chamber orchestra. Tuomela has composed three works for the Sami-language poems of Nils Aslak Valkeapää: Vuohenki Luohti (2001) for a mezzo-soprano and an orchestra, Juoigga! (2002) for a baritone and chamber ensemble, as well as Govadas (2002) for a contra-alto and a baroque band. Cultural historical subjects have also been the inspiration for other works by Tuomela. These include The Finlandia of Our Time (1986), …ad Astra (1989), Lemminkäinen (2000), Mirage (1997), the musical fairytale Hölmöläisiä (2002) as well as songs and choral works on the poems of Lassi Nummi and the drinking songs of the Kanteletar. In addition to his active career as a composer, Tuomela also works as an orchestra director specialising in modern music and opera.