The Inside Story: Maija Hynninen and DAWN BREAKS

Maija Hynninen — composer and sound artist — works in concert music, electronic instrument design, and multidisciplinary performances. The essence of her music builds on the unique moments where the parameters of this world are slightly altered to allow a glimpse of another reality to be present. It can be a moment where the timbre of purely acoustical writing gives surprising results or when electronics project sound into another domain, space, and reality. Her work has been described as “etherical” and “highly skillful,” that builds into “a strongly unifying musical arc” (Helsingin Sanomat), “fascinating experience,” and with “strong association to nature” (Hufvudstadsbladet).

Today, Maija is our featured artist in “The Inside Story,” a blog series exploring the inner workings and personalities of our artists. Read on to discover the first record Maija ever bought…

What does this album mean to you personally?

DAWN BREAKS is a journey from my very first pieces with electronics to the most recent ones. Looking back on the creation process of winnowing (2010) and Orlando-fragments (2010), they were both huge lessons and struggles in how to realise with electronics what I wanted to express. I had ideas for certain kinds of electronic sounds and processes that I didn’t have faintest idea of how to produce. In between these early pieces and …sicut aurora procedit (2015) I had two children. I dedicated …sicut aurora procedit to my daughter Aune (b. 2014) who had to go through major medical hardship at a really early age. While composing this piece, I felt that it should be about hope of her recovery. I’m not religious in any way, but the Hildegard Von Bingen antiphon intertwining with the violin textures is in a way a prophecy and a prayer for my daughter. Freedom from Fear (2017) came from the need to say something about the political state of the world. I was living in California while composing this piece and the political climate at that time felt very explosive. 

If you could instantly have expertise performing one instrument, what would that be?

Anything, on a high professional level? I’d like to be a conductor. It would be fabulous to be able express music with the movements of the body, not only one instrument, but a whole orchestra.

What is your guilty pleasure?

Coffee & chocolate at noon. Browsing housing ads on my breaks.

If you could spend creative time anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

By the sea, in a mild climate where there is a lot of natural light. Northern California has some magnificent places on the Pacific coast along Highway 1. I love to be surrounded by nature and the sea is just something overwhelmingly engaging and powerful.

Who was your favorite artist growing up?

I bought my first record in 1984 when I was 7 years old. It was Wham! Make It Big. After that I moved on to Michael Jackson. My dad had a huge collection of records and cassettes. From his collections I found anything from The Beatles to gamelan music. I listened to a little bit of contemporary classical music as well, but mostly concentrated on rock and pop. In my teens playing violin became very important for me, so I slowly switched to listening to classical music. But it wasn’t until in my early 20s that I became engaged with contemporary classical music and started to compose myself. My dad is an electro-acoustic music composer, so working with computers and sound was very natural for me from very early on in my composition studies. 

DAWN BREAKS is now available for streaming or purchase through Ravello Records. Click here to explore this new album.

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