XIV Turku Cello Competition – premiere of Sitka (for violoncello solo)

Olli Virtaperko’s new work for cello, Sitka, receives 12 premier performances by the semifinalists of the XIV Turku Cello Competition on August 29-30.

Artturi Aalto, the first player in the semifinals of the Turku Cello Competition getting ready for Sitka.

Sitka is Virtaperko’s sixth work for solo cello and it was commissioned by the Musical Society of Turku for the XIV Turku Cello Competition 2022. Programmed at the semifinal stage, Sitka introduces the young players to the world of color, distortion and noise.

”In composing Sitka I had four main objectives. Firstly, I wished to be able to produce a competition piece that would provide a wide variety of interpretations, thus providing distinct musical differences between the competitors. Secondly, I wanted to go deeper into the world of noise than in any of my previous cello pieces and explore some extended left hand techniques, such as sideway bends, one-finger glissando trills, multiphones and half-stopping techniques. Thirdly, I had an educational goal to introduce young professionals to some contemporary cello techniques that they might find useful in their professional career – the competition is an ideal vehicle for such a forced learning process, as advancing in the competition and making a difference provides motivation, goal and reward. And finally – obviously – I desired to write a piece that, despite its competition aspects, would firmly stand on its own as a piece of abstract sonic art/entertainment.

As I’m writing this, the second day of the semifinals of the competition is about to start. By now I have heard six of the twelve performances, and I’m relieved to notice that all the performances have been distinctively different, and I assume that the second half of the semifinals will further widen the aesthetic approaches and technical realizations of the music.”

All the competition performances of Sitka can be found from the Turku Music Festival YouTube channel (the semifinal stage video titles starting with ”erä2”).