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28 min

For symphony orchestra

Commissioned by

Finnish Broadcasting Company (Yle)

Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra


Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra

Dima Slobodeniouk, conductor

Helsinki Music Centre, Concert Hall

March 18, 2016


79 musicians:

3333, 4331, T+3, hrp, pno/cel, strings 14-12-10-8-6

[2 Flutes, 1 Piccolo, 2 Oboes, 1 English Horn,

2 Clarinets in Bb, 1 Bass Clarinet in Bb, 2 Bassoons,

1 Contrabassoon, 4 Horns in F, 3 Trumpets in C,

2 Tenor Trombones, 1 Bass Trombone, 1 Tuba,

Timpani (1 player), Percussion (3 players),

Harp, Piano/Celesta (1 player),

14 I Violins, 12 II Violins, 10 Violas, 8 Cellos,

6 Double Basses (5 strings, lowest string B)]


Premiere: March 18, 2016, at 7 p.m.

Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra

Dima Slobodeniouk, conductor

Helsinki Music Centre, Concert Hall

Mannerheimintie 13 A


Program notes

Motto (2015, 28 min) is my first composition for full symphony orchestra, but my seventh with orchestral instrumentation. Before it I had written three works for chamber orchestra (Signature 2003, Fresh 2004 ja Design 2005) and three concertos (bass clarinet concerto Kirjo 2006; quarter-tone accordion concerto Velinikka 2008; and double concerto for quarter-tone guitar, quarter-tone accordion and orchestra, Conception 2012).

One of my general objectives as a composer has been to try to construct works in which the different musical parameters communicate symbiotically, thereby creating a supple overall form. By communication between the musical parameters I mean, for example, a situation in which, at a given moment, something happens in, say, the orchestration, and as if the music listens to hear how the harmony will naturally react, or whether the rhythms will somehow respond and how they will affect the dynamics, for example. By establishing interactive flows in the inner logic I can try to create longer-lasting spans in the musical parameters. Juggling with the relationships between these may in turn charge and discharge tensions between sections of the composition, the aim being to construct a lasting entity that heeds its own laws.

Ever since Haljennut (2004), which I composed 13 years ago, all my compositions have incorporated quarter-tones. I had long dreamt of combining a full-sized symphony orchestra and quarter-tones. All the orchestral instruments that can actually produce quarter-tones, do so, such as woodwinds, brass, strings, timpani and a microtone-tuned harp. Diverging from the normal practice, each desk of the strings has its own independent part. I felt that giving the strings independent parts opened up compositional potential for grouping and splitting the strings into anything from tutti to 50 independent soloists.

I thank the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra for commissioning this large-scale 28-minute work. Composing the score took approximately a year and a half. The Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Dima Slobodeniouk premiered Motto at the Helsinki Music Centre on March 18, 2016.

Sampo Haapamäki