University of Turku’s 100th Anniversary Work Composed by Mikko Heiniö


Composer, Professor Emeritus of Musicology Mikko Heiniö has composed the anniversary work entitled Syvyyden yllä tuuli (Wind above the Depths) of the University of Turku’s centenary that will be celebrated next year. The composition will be performed for the first time at the University of Turku’s Anniversary Celebration in February 2020.

– The composition process is about deciding what you want to do and how to execute it. Once I choose a text, I have already done a lot, tells Heiniö about the process.

The poem was found among the works of Heiniö’s good friend, author and Honorary Arts Professor Lassi Nummi. Nummi’s poem Syvyyden yllä tuuli originates from the non-profit performance rights organisation Teosto’s 50th anniversary celebration held in 1978. The motto for the anniversary had been created by the University of Turku’s former Rector and Chancellor, Academician of Science Tauno Nurmela and it ran Ingenium fons rerum i.e. A creative mind is the cradle of everything. The thought inspired Nummi to write the poem.

– Lassi Nummi’s text is the basis of my work. It is a question of creative human thinking, seeking for and finding something new, says Heiniö.

The work is composed for a baritone, mixed-voice choir, and orchestra. At the Anniversary Celebration and Ceremonial Conferment, the composition will be performed by the Turku Philharmonic Orchestra and Turku University Choir. The soloist will be revealed later.

Heiniö wanted the soloist to be a baritone e.g. because a baritone’s vocal range provides the best chance to hear the clearly articulated lyrics.
Even though the basis of the anniversary work is a distinct set of texts, Heiniö considers the piece an orchestral work to a great extent.

– The work contains long orchestral sections when no one is singing, says Heiniö, who has aimed at the work being solemn without being too pompous.

Anniversary Work Continues Suite of Cantatas

As a composer, Mikko Heiniö is known especially for his distinctive concertos, symphonies, and vocal works. Alongside composing, he has made a significant career as a researcher. At the University of Turku, he worked for almost 20 years as Professor of Musicology.

According to Vice Rector Riitta Pyykkö who leads the steering group preparing for the University of Turku’s centenary year, ordering the anniversary work was a natural part of the anniversary and honouring academic traditions. The anniversary work by Heiniö continues the suite of cantatas ordered by the University of Turku. As wished by Mikko Heiniö, the newest one is referred to as anniversary work instead of cantata.

The oldest cantata ordered by the University is Isänmaan kasvot composed by Armas Järnefelt, and it was first performed at the inauguration of the University of Turku in 1927. Tauno Pylkkänen’s cantata Soihdunkantajat was finished in 1955 and Joonas Kokkonen’s Erekhtheion in 1970.

The anniversary work will be performed both at the Anniversary Celebration on 28 February 2020 and the Ceremonial Conferment on 29 May 2020. According to Heiniö, it is currently under consideration whether it would be possible to perform the work also in an independent concert event during spring 2020.

– The University of Turku’s Ceremonial Conferment traditions have always included performing the University’s cantata during the Conferment Ceremony, says Pyykkö.

Ordered by the University community of Turku, two other cantatas have also been composed. The Student Union of the University of Turku ordered the cantata Planeettain laulu finished in 1927 by Leevi Madetoja. Already before the official establishing of the University, the Turku Finnish University Society ordered from Madetoja the cantata Elämän päivät which is based on V. A. Koskenniemi‘s text. To celebrate the establishing of the University, the cantata was performed in a Snellman Day event in Helsinki in 1920 with Aino Ackté as the soloist.

– The score to Elämän päivät went missing later. However, the work’s choir and orchestra parts had been preserved in the National Library, and based on them, it was possible to compile the score again in 2007 and perform it in its original form in the 90th anniversary celebration of the Turku Finnish University Society in the Sigyn hall in Turku, says Pyykkö.


Text: Erja Hyytiäinen
Translation: Aura Jaakkola
Photo: Hanna Oksanen

Created 25.03.2019 | Updated 29.03.2019