Commissioned The University of Helsinki
Text Cia Rinne
Category soloist, choir and orchestra
Year 2022
Duration 20
Orchestration counter tenor, mixed choir (SATB) and orchestra (1111-1100-perc-strings)
Publisher Gehrmans Musikförlag

Program note

Science Frictions is a cantata in seven movements, composed to a multilingual text written by the poet Cia Rinne. My music is inspired by the overwhelming excitement, by the frustration and by the eternal questioning which is part of what infinite and multifaceted knowledge entails.

As a soloist, I have chosen David Hackston, whose fantastic countertenor has such an incredibly wide range which fits well with the theme of knowledge, which by definition should be wide. The actual sound of the voice, owing to its large range, sounds in my opinion gender neutral which is an important aspect for me regarding education and knowledge, that knowledge and education should belong to everyone. This piece was commissioned by the University of Helsinki to celebrate its Conferment Jubilee in Spring 2023.


Science Frictions –  Listen on Youtube



It can be said that the text [by Cia Rinne] places the work in a pan-European intellectual context; this is not some backroom Finnish blustering, but a universal avant-garde. For this reason, the work could be presented anywhere in Europe – and hopefully it will be.


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


2023 March 20th World premiere at Conferment Jubilee of the University of Helsinki  – More info
2023 May 19th Conferment Celebration of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at Helsinki University
2023 May 26th Conferment Celebration of the Faculty of Arts at Helsinki University
2023 June 16th Conferment Celebration of the Faculty of Law at Helsinki University