(K. Brent Tomer),
KAIJA SAARIAHO’S artistic genesis was inauspicious. Born to a metal worker and home-maker, she received no musical encouragement from her parents. As a child, she composed secretly in her bedroom; aged 11, she read about Mozart and concluded that she was destined for inadequacy. She was the only female composition student in her class at the Sibelius Academy in the early 1970s; professors told her that pretty girls shouldn’t write music. She was advised by a teacher to repeat “I can do it” in the mirror several times a day.
Thankfully, she persevered, and her eclectic training has helped to shape her trajectory as a composer. Ms Saariaho is now regarded as one of the most successful of her generation, admired for her luminous, brilliantly crafted orchestral scores and thoughtful stage pieces. In December, the Metropolitan Opera presents her “L’Amour de Loin” (“Love from Afar”): the first work by a female composer shown at the house since 1903.
The themes of love and death in “L’Amour” are, on the surface, conventional operatic fodder—it follows a medieval French troubadour smitten with the faraway…Continue reading