Top-notch at Kokkola Winter Accordion – “Permafrost” is a Supreme Masterpiece with Sonja Vertainen Shining as Soloist. The composition commissioned from Cecilia Damström by Kokkola Winter Accordion and the Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra stands out as a remarkable achievement from the composer.
Damström exhibits a remarkable command in handling the orchestra and exploring its sonic capabilities. At times, she seamlessly integrates the accordion into the string section, requiring meticulous focus to discern the origins of the sound. Naturally, the composition also allocates distinct solo segments for the accordion. In the second movement, Damström demonstrates the artistry of how a top-tier composer uses extended playing techniques: a tap of the wood side of the bow on the strings evokes imagery of a drop falling or a bubble bursting. The accordion has serene, heartrendingly beautiful, simple melodies in the tranquil second movement, melodies that one could listen to endlessly. And what an ending Damström presented!
Permafrost stands as a truly exquisite and masterful creation, impeccably crafted with no superfluous elements. Its accessibility is remarkable; making it a true pleasure to listen to. I dare say, it’s a musical gem that is bound to grace many stages in the years to come. The commission by Kokkola Winter Accordion and the Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra is an unsurpassed success!
Anni Saari – Keskipohjanmaa 20.02.2024
Damström has created a fascinating score, full of exciting sounds, captivating colors, and evocative orchestral effects. “Extinctions” represents Damström at her most modernist, simultaneously maintaining a highly expressive approach that is by no means devoid of dramatic pauses or tonal landmarks. The lion’s share consists, in fact, of meditatively charged, almost mysteriously vibrating, and quietly probing passages, lending the few discharges all the more effective relief. This is a relatively rare case of imaginative tonal painting in domestic contexts, emphasizing the stark but dramatically resilient rather than the sensually inviting.
Mats Liljeroos, Hufvudstadsbladet 28.1.2024
Damström’s music is like a spontaneously ignited and rich soundscape of life. If her Teosto Award-winning composition “ICE” in 2022 reflects the ethereal soundscape of icebergs, “Extinctions” is characterized by the earth’s resonant rumble.
The composition cleverly utilizes different instrumental groups and colors in depicting evolution, from dense strings in the forest to the clarinets’ erratic frogs and the Jurassic brass. Pressure waves and dust clouds come to life in the percussion section.
The music is colorful and visual but never merely illustrative. The Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra executed the piece excellently under the confident direction of Chloé Dufresne.
Nuppu Koivisto, Helsingin Sanomat 28.1.2024
A gorgeous rendition from the orchestra and Dufresne, Extinctions was given a flying start upon its premiere. Regarding the overall organic form, Damström’s orchestral designs bear some family relationships with those by Anna Thorvaldsdottir – without imitation – whereas her way of leading each instrument their own sonic narratives is something quite unique. Figurative without resorting to mere Mickey Mousing, Damström’s scoring serves as story-teller par excellence, as resoundingly demonstrated by the inspired accounts of the FRSO players. Shaped and balanced with keen attention and organic sensitivity by Dufresne, Extinctions was received with rousing enthusiasm by the sold-out hall.
Jari Kallio, Adventures in Music 27.1.2024
Cecilia Damström. A composer frequently in the spotlight both here and abroad, she is remarkably prolific, and her music is performed a lot considering the field of contemporary classical music. This is no surprise. Her musical language, partly but certainly not entirely reflective of its concrete foundations, is easily approachable even at its most complex. The structural aspects are generally clear, the texture rich and colourful, and the dramatic tensions fascinatingly tuned. Regardless of her themes, her compositions are not solemn one-dimensional pamphlets but often convey to us an invisible solution or demand that speaks to us on a deeper, aesthetic level.
Jari Hoffrén, Jälkikaikuja Korvakäytäviltä Blog 12th of October 2023
The winding and swaying melodic progressions, thought distortions blurred by glissandos, and the rhythmic compulsiveness trouble the mind. Then, a sudden transition led by the celesta calls for a magical Wonderland. The awakening from the dream of inquisitive timbres high above is a cruel return to the initial obsession, hinting at a brass carnival before an unresolved ending. Cecilia Damström, who passionately composes on serious subjects, offers convincing, multilayered contemporary art music in Nixus, Op. 75. The mental images created by the themes never shackle the listener’s freedom to sense the opportunities offered by the captivating music. The splendid piece flourished, thanks to the meticulous dedication of the young promising conductor, Jiří Rožeň.
Jari Hoffrén, Keskisuomalainen 13th of October 2023
Through her music, the composer wants to make us aware of what is happening in our environment. “Fretus” is a touching and very well-written piece.
Per-Håkan Jansson, Vasabladet the Friday 4th of August 2023
Cecilia Damström (b.1988) is a fantastic composer. Her work Infirmus from 2015 lacks melodic motifs, instead she exploits the string instrument’s ability to create atmospheres. The title means illness or weakness and the listener is given the opportunity for their own personal interpretation. I just closed my eyes and could experience images like pain, worry, hopelessness, hope, aggressiveness…
The work is excellent proof of music’s ability to evoke thoughts and feelings.
Per-Håkan Jansson, Vasabladet Sunday the 23rd of April 2023
Cecilia Damström’s eerie string orchestra work Infirmus delivered the listeners to a completely different world. The work is dedicated to those who suffer from severe pain caused by an incurable disease. The work cuts, throbs, grabs, hits, oppresses. The world of endless pain has transcribed to the form of music in a really impressive way. An absolutely wonderful, breath taking and merciless piece, which was brilliantly played by the string orchestra.
Hanne Orrenmaa, Ilkka-Pohjalainen – Saturday 22nd of April 2023
Damström’s music is a clever combination of references to the cantata tradition or a similar monumental choral style. The very beginning is like a reference to Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex with the rhythmic ostinato of the low strings. But then it transforms into a texture on the verge of tonality. Overall, the texture of the music is colorful and witty avant-garde, without rendering the listener. Damström is already known for her skill in handling vocal material. But she is moreover a master of expressive orchestration. As a whole, Science Frictions radically renews the cantata genre, but at the same time stays within its limits.
With her work, Damström has claimed her place as one of our leading young modernists. The piece is a refreshing experience and makes you want to hear it again.
Eero Tarasti, Amfion 22.3.2023
Cecilia Damström’s Aveo is an intense five-minute work for solo cello, where fast virtuoso passages, peppery rhythmics and eerily beautiful tones alternate. The world premiere was excellent, as could be expected of Jonathan Roozeman.
Vesa Sirén, Helsingin Sanomat 2 February 2023
The premiere of the Finnish-Swedish composer Cecilia Damström’s work Wasteland in five short movements was probably the work I was really looking forward to the most. The music was characterized by strong dynamics, shifting richness of colour and, not least, sharp contrasts. Here, the orchestral outfit is really used for a striking rhythm. With its themes around the clothing industry and greenwashing, the work also conveyed something as unusual as a sharp post in the ongoing climate debate. It also reminds me what a spectacular “instrument” the symphony orchestra is in capable hands.
Bengt Hultman, Västerbottens-Kuriren 2 September 2022
Damström’s wonderful musical language is impressive. Cecilia Damström’s piece Lucrum now fits our time a little too well. A magnificent work from one of our leading composers of the new generation.
Jussi Mattila, Savon Sanomat 19 March 2022
Cecilia Damström’s vibrant and rhythmically powerful Fretus made Styrsö Chamber Soloists evoke the mighty surging and unknown depths of the oceans.
Martin Nyström, Dagens Nyheter 9 August 2021
There is so much gunpowder in Damström’s musical language that there even is to spare. […] Like it or not, the essential thing is that Nixus is not meaningless music but leaves a mark of remembrance. That is the thing that matters. […]
Strong dynamics, richness of color, high contrasts – those are a few remarks about Damström’s composition. Also rhythmics were used skillfully.
The work moreover conveyed something remarkably visual. Fascinating per se.
Damström’s use of the orchestra is impressive. Thus, it is also reminiscent of what a spectacular “instrument” the symphony orchestra is in skilled hands.
Jyri Ojala, Karjalainen 27 February 2021
The wonderful opening piece was Cecilia Damström’s Tundo!. You could, due to her topical and also environmental statements, call her “the Greta Thunberg in music”.
The programmatic work about the refugee crisis of our time, is powerful with its dramaturgy based on fast cuts and in its varied musical and orchestral colours, a successful combination of new thinking and some familiar ingredients.
Veijo Murtomäki, Helsingin Sanomat 7 December 2020
What an amazing opening for the seasonal concert of Kuopio Symphony! Cecilia Damström’s Tundo! explodes into motion with unbelievable painful energy. After this, also more humane features begin to unfold in the piece. This piece commenting the immigration crisis made a strong impact.
Jussi Mattila, Savon Sanomat 7 December 2019
Cecilia Damström’s Requiem for Our Earth for women’s choir, tape and light sounded marvellously from the beginning to the end while shaking all of humanity.
Susanna Välimäki, Helsingin Sanomat 9 November 2019
Damström’s Requiem for Our Earth is at it’s strongest point in it’s introduction, where Greta Thunbergs parable of a burning house is effecttively illustrated through Marek Pluciennik’s flames, which are projected on to the choir members. Initially, the work feels like the most important thing I have seen in a long time and pressing themes are dealt with in scenes about mining and logging. Among the strongest moments is the scene where former Defense Minister Jussi Niinistö (Finns party) defends the meat intake of men in the military service, while slaughtered pigs scream and blood splashes.
The choral texture is surprisingly simple and consists mostly of chords which sound excellent with the beautiful voices of Lyran; It is not without reason that Damström has previously been explicitly praised for her choral music. Overall, Damström also prefers a concrete expression, while Pluciennik’s video adds a level of abstraction.
Wilhelm Kvist, Hufvudstadsbladet 9 November 2019
Damström manages in a creative way to combine the string quartet with the meoldrama. Damström contrasts expressive and meditative elements in her habitual successful manner and also enriches the tonal fundament in a personal way with many kinds modernistic textures. — Especially the far from easaly played music by Damström, with it’s well integrated Janácek quotations, gave a vivid impression in the sometimes gaudy changes between skirt vibrant and grimly cutting parts.
Mats Liljeroos, Hufvudstadsbladet 17 June 2019
“The braveness and energy which characterized the first piano quintet return this year in a more refined form. Damström has a strong and original composer voice.”
Anna Pulkkis, Hufvudstadsbladet 10 June 2018
“Everything in this opera works! The story about a king who wants to decide over everyone is well written, perfect for a children’s opera. Cecilia Damström’s challenging and interesting compositions add a new dimension to the production. Also the scenography is simply stunning.”
Sofia Torvalds, Kyrkpressen 2017
“It is a musical challenge to compose music that considering the pedagogical aspect is singable and playable for a very young student orchestra. But this is exactly what Cecilia Damström has managed to accomplish! If the first impression were that the music is Gebrauchsmusik that doesn’t seek any higher ambitions, this impression will fade away at the latest by the time the boy soprano Tinder sings his aria.”
Wilhelm Kvist, Hufvudstadsbladet 2017
Cecilia Damström (f. 1988) caused a sensation with her hyper expressive a cappella work Angor, a composition of Psalm 22, where only the words “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me” were to be heard within a frame of partly sprechgesang and tone eruptions with Erik Bergman and György Ligeti as its main patrons. If Damström continues on this course, anything is possible!
Mats Liljeroos, Hufvudstadsbladet 2016
INTERVIEWS & FEATURES
Cecilia Damström talking (in Finnish) about ICE on National TV Ylen Aamu – Watch on Yle Areena
Video portrait in German of Cecilia Damström in Die Sendung mit der Kunst
Cecilia Damström talking (in Finnish) about ICE and the Teosto Prize nomination – Listen on Youtube
Musik & Mening – Podcast in Swedish by Mika Westerlund and Staffan Kurtén about music and meaning Listen on Spotify
Composer Cecilia Damström: Tackling crises through music
Auli Särkiö-Pitkänen, Music Finland “In the spotlight” 2022
A feature article in Music Finland’s series “In the spotlight” about Cecilia’s music, inspirations and way of composing.
Cecilia Damström ekologisten kysymysten äärellä
Kimmo Korhonen, Rondo Classic, February 2024
An interview in the largest Finnish classical music magazine Rondo Classic about the orchestral works by Cecilia coming up this spring: Extinctions, Permafrost, ICE and Wasteland.
Säveltäjä Cecilia Damström säveltää lunta, jäätä ja metaanipurkauksia ‒ Perjantain kantaesitys on monitaiteinen harmonikkakonsertto
Anni Saari, Keskipohjanmaa, 16.2. 2024
An interview in the Central Ostrobothnian newspaper Keskipohjanmaa about the upcoming premiere of the accordion concerto Permafrost .
Cecilia Damström skriver musik inspirerad av smältande polarisar och arternas massdöd
Wilhelm Kvist, Hufvudstadsbladet 26.1.2024
A feature article in Swedish the newspaper Hufvudstadsbladet about the new world premiere Extinctions and Cecilia’s philosophy about why she writes music on themes of ecology and equality.
Cecilia Damström ja merkityksellinen musiikki
Nelli Korhonen, Rondo Classic, August 2022
A cover feature article in the largest Finnish classical music magazine Rondo Classic about how Cecilia want’s to change the world trough music, about how she thinks about music and what themes inspire her.
Contemporary music can be political – Cecilia Damström’s Requiem is one of the key works at the Ung Nordisk Musik festival
Auli Särkiö-Pitkänen, Finnish Music Quarterly 2020
A feature article in Finnish Music Quarterly about Cecilia’s “Requiem for our Earth” and the festival Ung Nordisk Music.
Säveltäjä Cecilia Damströmin tavoitteena on saada kuulijat tuntemaan ja ajattelemaan – Nyt hän sai 15 000 euron Teosto-palkinnon ekokatastrofia käsittelevällä teoksella
Samuli Tiikkaja, Helsingin Sanomat, May 2022
A feature article in the Finnish tabloid Helsingin Sanomat about Cecilia winning the Teosto prize with a piece about melting polar ices.
Cecilia Damström tilldelas Teostopriset för musikstycke om klimatkrisen
Jonas Forsbacka, Hufvudstadsbladet, May 2022
A feature article in the newspaper Hufvudstadsbladet about Cecilia winning the Teosto prize with a piece about climate crisis.
Gruvdrift och skogsavverkningar ljuder på scenen
Tuuli Solhagen, Finlands Natur 2021
A feature article in the magazine Finlands Natur about Cecilia’s standpoint on environmental questions and question of equality in her music.
Seven Questions for Cecilia Damström
Kristina Fryklöf, Nordic Highlights 2021
A feature article in the magazine Nordic Highlights about Cecilia’s upcoming compositions and concerts.
Cecilia Damström haluaa edistää tasa-arvon asiaa
Riikka Holopainen, Riikan tähtitarha, Yle radio 1, 2020
A feature radio interview about Cecilia’s thoughts about music and gender equality. Available on Yle Areena until 7th of August 2020.
Listen to the whole interview here
Kuukauden säveltäjä Cecilia Damström: “Otan musiikissani mielelläni kantaa yhteiskunnallisiin asioihin”
Kikka Holmberg, Kulttuuritoimitus 2020
“I like to take a stand on social issues in my music” – A feature article in the online magazine Kulttuuritoimitus about Cecilia’s work as a composer and about what is important for her when composing music.
Cecilia Damström vill göra musik som går på djupet
Sofia Strömgård, Resonas 2019
A feature article in Resonans about Cecilia’s choral music, path of becoming a composer and about how she wants to change the world.
Koululaisooppera pohtii vakavia kysymyksiä
Kimmo Korhonen, Rondo 2019
A feature article in the Finnish music magazine Rondo about Cecilia’s opera Djurens planet for the Finnish National Opera
En ambitiös seglare i musikens skärgård – Cecilia Damströms väg var aldrig lätt
Wilhelm Kvist, Hufvudstadsbladet 2016
A feature article in Hufvudstadsbladet about Cecilia’s path to becoming a composer.
Read the whole article
Ser förmågan som en gåva
Emelie Wikblad, Kyrkpressen 2018
A feature article in Kyrkpressen about Cecilia’s thoughts of faith and music.
Read the whole article