Work of art

Listen, I’m composing!

Riitta Tikkanen
Heikki Tuuli


Young composer Aina Hidama is telling music education student Aliina Mäkitalo about his ideas during the first period in 2011. In the background student Päivi Ollikainen (left) and composer Ilari Kaila.

The power of co-operation

“I get to create something that is uniquely me, that is not edited by anyone else.  The nicest bit was to compose for a larger orchestra,” says Ida-Maria Raudasoja, one of the young composers participating in the Listen, I’m composing! project.

The collaboration between the Sibelius Academy, Helsinki Music Centre, Radio Symphony Orchestra, Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, Finnish National Opera and New York Philharmonic is giving children and young people an opportunity to compose for the instruments of a symphony orchestra. Signing up for the project takes place at all comprehensive schools in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area and no specific background in music is required. Carried out since 2011 with the support of the Alfred Kordelin Foundation, the project has so far had 93 young participants. The seventh Listen! concert will be held at the Helsinki Music Centre in April and in Hamburg at the end of the month.

The Listen, I’m composing! first began with the New York Philharmonic expressing its interest in the music education, training, inclusive artistic events and audience work carried out by the Sibelius Academy.

A young composer’s creation may begin with a picture, story, movement, atmosphere or any other thing that is important to the composer. The key idea is to perform the musical vision of the young composer as it was written.

The students of Sibelius Academy’s subject departments and professional composers will assist the young composers only in technical matters. The compositions will be notated for the orchestra.

The composition concert orchestra has musicians from the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, Radio Symphony Orchestra and Finnish National Opera Orchestra who will be premiering the works under the baton of a Sibelius Academy conductor student. The composers have also featured in the New York Philharmonic concerts.

“The thing is to believe in the creativity of children and young people and the power of their musical vision,” says composer Olli Kortekangas.

“The best part was to hear your piece in its entirety.  Everyone should start composing!” says Aalto Friman, one of the project participants.


Riitta Tikkanen is a lecturer of music education at the Sibelius Academy heading inclusive artistic activities and collaboration.