Who are you and how did you end up studying at the Sibelius Academy?
Nina: I’m a pianist and a conductor from Switzerland. When studying in Germany I met a Finnish conducting teacher who brought me to Finland. I saw how important classical music is in this country and how many professional orchestras there are and how supported classical music is here. I thought that there must be good teachers for sure, then I applied and got accepted. I found a wonderful teacher and a great school.
Joosep: I’m violinist from Estonia. I ended up in the Sibelius Academy actually as a coinidence. I had just come back to Estonia from Germany from my exchange semester when COVID-19 hit the world, and was thinking to continue my studies abroad. But as the situation in the world was and still is unstable I wanted to stay close to home. And very easily I decided that applying to study in SibA is the most logical choice. And I’m glad to be here!
What made you audition for a soloist post in the Academy Winds anniversary concert?
Nina: Alban Berg has been one of my favourite composers for a long time, so auditioning to this project as a soloist was a no-brainer for me! I just really love this piece and this concert gave me the chance to study it deeply.
Joosep: They announced the material 1,5 months before the audition and I thought that I should challenge myself. It seemed quite crazy at first but I’m glad that I was persistent and went through with it!
What have you learned during this concert project?
Nina: I’m also minoring in wind conducting, and because of that I have had the opportunity to also conduct the Alban Berg piece performed in this concert. We have had two sessions with orchestra and it’s super cool to experience both the soloist’s and the conductor’s approaches to the piece. It’s the same score and you have to study it very throughougly anyway. But the perspective is different and it has been nice to see how it feels as a pianist when there is someone conducting and also when you are the conductor, leading the group.
Joosep: Of course to work and perform with an orchestra is quite a privilege already. And the opportunity to work with Nina Haug and Petri Komulainen has been special in many ways. It’s my first experience with Academy Winds. As a string player I haven’t had contact to wind orchestras. To have my first experience with wind orchestra in this manner is beyond awesome and I hope this won’t be my last!
What kind of tips would you give to anyone coming to the Academy Winds concert in May?
Nina: I would advice to listen to the Alban Berg piece at least once before the concert. It’s an incredibly complex work. Every note that is written there is in the perfect place and has its meaning. I’ve studied this piece for about half a year and I’m still discovering! It’s emotional and sensitive music. Be completely neutral and just see what it does to you!
Joosep: I think the easiest thing to recommend is to come with an open mind. Try to see the logic behind what seems to be illogical and chaotic. It’s actually the same music as Mozart or Bach, just coded in a different way. Alban Berg’s music is incredibly singing and melodic and if it’s expressed in a meaningful way it can make a lot of sense!
How would you describe the Sibelius Academy as a learning environment and a place to become a professional?
Nina: I love the university. I have had many great teachers here and met so many fantastic people. It has been positive, supportive and nourishing – you can just go to a teacher and ask about anything. The Sibelius Academy gave me the possibility to deepen the studies that I wanted to. That is crucial because when we graduate, we all have different paths and in the end you learn by doing and you can always be better. There are many things we only learn outside of university – basically we study for life here. It is a good place to become a professional.
Joosep: Perfect, in every way. I have been able to learn, make music and to be on stage together with friends – I will look back on all these moments with genuine gratitude. Best thing in my studies is that there’s so many opportunities to learn and develop. But at the same time you have to choose from a lot of options. That can be hard as well! I guess the main thing in our profession is to learn by doing. And in this sense the Sibelius Academy offers a lot: apprenticeship programs with professional orchestras, soloist engagements, collaborations in chamber music etc. and of course in the heart of it all is the individual instrument instruction.
How do you see the role of an artist in the society now and in the future?
Nina: Art is essential for humanity. We all have to need to express and we all have a need to share different moments with each other and for me the way to do it is music. It can bring comfort and I know it is not going to go anywhere.
Joosep: In an ever changing world the artists can give life meaning and stability. We are always there to play Beethoven or Sibelius, no matter the political situation of the world.