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World premiere of “Swarm” for string octet by Finnish composer Osmo Tapio Räihälä

As part of the Finnish Hauho Music Festival, the ensemble Virtuosi di Kuhmo is to premiere Osmo Tapio Räihälä's "Swarm" for string octet on 8 July 2021. 

Ensemble Virtuosi di Kuhmo was founded in 1992 for the Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival. Since then it has been an independent chamber ensemble consisting of the crème de la crème of Finnish string soloists. The ensemble has toured Europe, Russia and Japan and received international acclaim for its recordings of both traditional repertoire and 20th century string ensemble works. Today, Virtuosi di Kuhmo focuses on performing works for larger string ensembles from quintet to nonet. In addition to the standard repertoire, the Virtuosi di Kuhmo also frequently turn to contemporary music.

Osmo Tapio Räihälä writes of “Swarm”:

“A shoal can consist of thousands of small fish. Hordes of grasshoppers can have billions of insects. A starling murmuration happens when up to hundred thousand starlings gather into a flock. All these form swarms.

Eight string players can also form a swarm. It requires swarm intelligence from the musicians!

Swarm for double string quartet was commissioned by Virtuosi di Kuhmo, and finished around the outbreak of the covid-19 pandemic in spring 2020. This meant, that the planned world premiere in July 2020 at the Hauho Music Festival in Tavastia, Finland, had to be moved forward into the unforeseeable future. Luckily the situation has got better, and the premiere now takes place in Hattula New Church on 8th of July 2021.

Swarm consists of three movements, played without a pause, and has the duration of 15-16 minutes. The first movement (Shoal) moves around softly under the sea surface, where a shoal of anchovies use their swarm intelligence to evade the attacks of predators. The second movement (Horde) sees teeming hordes of insects to overwhelm a landscape with their ostensibly haphazard swarming. The inspiration for the last movement (Flock) comes from immeasurable number of birds moving around, and changing the form of the swarm and direction in unexpected ways. And in the end the flock disappears into the horizon.

There is a nonet version of the work, with an added double bass.

The composition of Swarm was funded by the Madetoja Foundation and MES.”

© Osmo Tapio Räihälä 6/2021

Osmo Tapio Räihälä: 
“Swarm” for string octet
Virtuosi di Kuhmo
Hauho Music Festival

Photo: © Stella Reismaa 

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