Olli Kortekangas (b. 1955) is one of the most popular Finnish composers of today. He studied music theory and composition at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki under the direction of Einojuhani Rautavaara and Eero Hämeenniemi, and continued his studies in West Berlin with Dieter Schnebel. Subsequently Kortekangas has worked as a teacher, including periods at the National Theatre Academy and the Sibelius Academy, and has taken part in a number of educational projects with children and youth, both in Finland and abroad.
Kortekangas’ music has been featured in concerts and at festivals around the world, and he is currently working on several domestic and international commissions. He has received numerous scholarships and awards in Finland and abroad, including the Special Prize of the Prix Italia Competition and the City of Salzburg Opera Prize, the prestigious Teosto Prize and the Espoo Medal in 2008. He has been granted a 5-year-scholarship of the Arts Council of Finland four times.
The composers’ oeuvre consists of about 140 works from solo pieces and chamber music to orchestral works and operas. Since his early days as a choral singer, Kortekangas has been attracted to the human voice. He has written nine operas including Messenius and Lucia (2004), Daddy’s Girl (2006, commissioned jointly by the Savonlinna Opera Festival and the Finnish Parliament), One Night Stand (2011), and Own Fault (2015). The children’s opera Janne’s Secret, commissioned by the Finnish National Opera, has been touring schools all over Finland after its premiere in 2015.
Kortekangas’ collaboration with some of the best Finnish choirs, particularly the Tapiola Choir and Candomino, has resulted in many popular a cappella choral works which have become repertoire of professional choirs all over the world. A special mention should be made of the Mass for the Jubilee Year (1999), commissioned by the parishes of Espoo, and covering the complete music for a Lutheran divine service. Olli Kortekangas has also written several works for chorus and orchestra such as Seven Songs for Planet Earth, premiered and commissioned by the Choral Arts Society of Washington in May 2011. The US West Coast premiere took place in San Francisco later that year, and the European premiere in Tampere in September 2013. His most recent commission from the US, Migrations, was premiered in February 2016 by mezzo-soprano Lilli Paasikivi, the YL Choir, and the Minnesota Orchestra under the baton of Osmo Vänskä.
During his residency with the Oulu Symphony Orchestra in 1997-2007 Kortekangas turned his attention to orchestral composition. His orchestral works include Konzertstück for clarinet, cello and orchestra (1993), Charms, concerto for piano trio and orchestra (1998), Piano Concerto (2010) commissioned by the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, and Clarinet Concerto (2014).
Kortekangas’ output also includes also a number of chamber and instrumental solo works, among them a cello sonata and three organ sonatas, as well as chamber music with voice. Recently, he has also written several works for period instruments.
Recent premieres by Kortekangas include VIA, an oratorio commissioned by the Church of Finland for a premiere at the Naantali Music Festival in 2017, and the operas My Brother’s Keeper, commemorating the Finnish Civil War, for the Tampere Opera in 2018, and Pictures of Life (2019).
Throughout his career, Kortekangas has been interested in collaboration with other arts and artists. Among his most important partners are the painters Raija Malka and Kuutti Lavonen, the choreographer Päivi Järvinen, and the playwright-directors Michael Baran and Tuomas Parkkinen.
Olli Kortekangas’ music is published by Fennica Gehrman, and represented internationally by Boosey&Hawkes and Schott Music.