Member of the Week - Anna-Maria Huohvanainen
"When musicians know that their effort is considered precious and needed, high quality work is almost guaranteed."
Anna-Maria Huohvanainen was born in Finland and raised in Belgrade, Serbia. She started playing violin and piano at the age of four. Some years later, Anna-Maria chose the violin to be her musical partner and nowadays she performs regurally as a solo, chamber and orchestral musician.
Anna-Maria holds many awards from violin competitions organized by music schools in Belgrade, as well as national competitions held in different cities of Serbia. She enjoys working with living composers and performs regurally at various festivals. Some of her recent projects were recording lead violin tracks for the videogame Alien: Blackout (owned by the 20th Century Fox) as well as playing in the Royal Concertgebouw orchestra as a part of Side by Side- project in 2018.
She has performed in events including Turku Music Festival, What ever Works Contemporary Music Festival and Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival. In 2016, her group Fearless Warriors of the Roseland got awarded a Nordic Culture Fund grant which then took them on a concert tour to Iceland, Switzerland, Denmark and Finland.
Anna-Maria gained her orchestral experience while playing in Turku Phillharmonic, Gothenburg Orchestra Academy, Boljsoj Festival's orchestra, Helsinki Sinfonietta and many others. She graduated from High School of Music in Belgrade aged fifteen. A few years later, in 2017, Anna-Maria graduated from Turku Arts Academy. At the moment she is continuing her violin studies under the guidance of Tero Latvala at Sibelius Academy.
As a versatile musician, in chamber and orchestral music, how do you think you personally can impact the orchestra?
I have always been moved by the unique energy we players get to share and experience whenever we make music together. Being fully present in the moment is the biggest gift we can give to ourselves and our colleagues.
The philosophy of the Helsinki Chamber Orchestra, where every player is granted a chance to share their musical vision, is what makes the preparation for each project very meaningful. When musicians know that their effort is considered precious and needed, high quality work is almost guaranteed.
We live in a world where everything is delivered instantly and is of a rather short term nature. Therefore, longing for a deeper connection on both musical and human level is a mark of our present. We as artists have tools to fill in those gaps with something that lasts.
Modern music and projects seem to be something you are very comfortable with. Do you have examples of ideas that could be worked on with this orchestra?
The time gap between us and composers from the past keeps expanding day by day. That is the reason why music of today is essential for the future of classical music overall. Once we explore the history of classical music, it makes it very natural to continue the circle and work with new ideas.
Having done many interdisciplinary collaborations, I would encourage connecting with different forms of art. As a member of this orchestra, I would also like to explore less known or less usual venues that have potential to host what we as a group have to offer.
Nurturing every project's uniqueness in content will keep this orchestra alive. Also making sure that audience has a comfortable spot and thus is able to enjoy the perfomance fully, is an important thing to consider.
"Chamber music happens when we, just as we are, start listening to each other and while breathing together we find ourselves in a place where we allow music to flow freely."
As an active both orchestral and chamber musician, what is your overall opinion on the ‘’chamber music-like'’ way to play in orchestra, and do you think it can also apply to larger groups?
This is a great question.
We all bring our own musical backgrounds and cultural roots with us. Chamber music happens when we, just as we are, start listening to each other and while breathing together we find ourselves in a place where we allow music to flow freely.
Chamber music-like way to play in an orchestra can be experienced on many different levels. The process of preparing the concert should be a process of growth for each and everyone involved. Practically speaking, this way of approaching the music during rehearsals can be either in a verbal or a non-verbal way.
To make these chamber music values a reality, what we need to do as a group - no matter how large - is to be smart with time. As we live in a very fast world, the challenge now is to make rehearsals a place where time stops and everyone is in some way responsible for the outcome. This musical attitude is for courageous musicians who are ready to take risks and responsibility.
As a musician, you are a supporter of new music. Personally, what does modern music from living composers mean to you?
That's right. We often hear questions like " What is the future of classical music?". It is not on us to make promises that it will be bright, but as long as new music is made, we can for sure say that it will be existing many generations from now.
Modern music for me means the past, the present, and the future. It is affected by the history, reflects the world we live in right now and shapes directions for future steps.
What do you think could be a reason that modern music sometimes meets resistance from the audiences? And what can be done from musicians side to help promote new music?
I think we shouldn't be afraid of resistance. After all, as long as music makes people feel something, either bad or good, it means that it is alive. Even composers that we consider geniuses now, suffered through misunderstandings by their contemporary audiences of now recognized masterpieces.
Art, just as life, experiences rebirth every once in a while. There are many challenging points that audiences get to deal with when this happens. Some of them are socially accepted attitudes of the time period in question and societys unwilligness and scepticism towards something that is unfamiliar.
Our task as musicians and new music advocates is to go deeper into the process of finding music that resonates within us. When larger audiences see this energy in us, they will be intrigued to become a part of this journey!