Profile of the performer Kaija Saariaho:
Kaija Saariaho is a composer of contemporary and experimental music, born 14 Oct 1952, in Helsinki, Finland. She attended the Helsinki University of Art and Design, studied at the Sibelius Academy with Paavo Heininen (1976–81), and later at the Freiburg Musikhochschule (1981–2) with Brian Ferneyhough, Klaus Huber. In 1982, she moved to Paris where she has worked regularly at [l=IRCAM]. She has also worked in San Diego (1988–89) and served as visiting professor of composition at the Sibelius Academy (1997–98).
Saariaho's early output from the late 1970s includes many melodious vocal works. With 1980's Im Traume For Cello And Piano, however, her focus shifted from melody to tone-colour, which with harmony became a central element in her music; melodies and distinct rhythmic patterns rarely appear. Characteristics of her works from the 1980s include tonal surfaces worked out in rich detail; sensitive, descriptive lyrical writing; and slow transformations. Her search for new timbres has stimulated a wide-ranging study of new instrumental techniques.