On the Edge of Light – Ai Margini della Luce; music for gamba and harpsichord

Concerts in Händel-Haus Halle and St Cecilia Hall in Edinburgh 2017

The program combines both baroque and contemporary music. The idea behind the concert is to see music as a living continuum. Like British composer Graham Lynch has put it in Sounding Board issue number 9, August 2015: "There are always certain cultural themes that continually return and I see nothing wrong in plugging into these currents of meaning and expression – as T.S. Eliot suggested, tradition is not something that is dead

but rather what is already living in the present moment of the past."

By combining eighteenth-century and contemporary music the seemingly unrelated elements are creating interfaces, transformations, and expanded meanings. The elements of Baroque and contemporary music have their own integrity, but as a combination they are perceived in a new and timeless context.

The program has been designed as a result of long-term musicianship and communicative relationship between professional musicians and composers (Kortekangas, Lynch, Whittall). The performers have played together for more than 20 years. They both perform as soloists and chamber musicians in Finland, but also abroad (Norway, Italy, Japan, Belgium, UK).

Varpu Assi Photo 2016 pienempi yksi Mt

On the Edge of Light – Ai Margini della Luce

Varpu Haavisto, viola da gamba Assi Karttunen, cembalo


Varpu Haavisto: Preludio contemplativo
François Couperin (1668-1733): Prelude e – Allemande e Graham Lynch (1957-): Admiring Yoro Waterfalls François Couperin: Sarabande e – Gavotte e


François Couperin: Les ombres errantes
Maurice Ohana (1913-1992): Carillons pous les heures du jour et du nuit
Matthew Whittal (1975-): New work (2016) (New commission for viola da gamba and harpsichord)


Olli Kortekangas (1955-): Ai Margini della luce (2013) François Couperin: Prelude A - Fuguette
Graham Lynch: Present – Past – Future – Present François Couperin: Pompe funebre - La Chemise blanche

The composers and performers

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.

Born in Canada, composer Matthew Whittall found his way to Finland in search of musical freedom and nature. The natural environment is a scarlet thread in his output, which includes a massive collection of piano preludes entitled Leaves of Grass after the poetry collection by Walt Whitman. His artistically oriented doctorate was on the idea of nature in Gustav Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde. “Accessible without being banal” was the verdict on his musical idiom when in 2013 he received the distinguished Teosto Prize for his work Dulcissima clara sonans, based on the visions of Hildegard of Bingen.


Graham Lynch was born in London. He has a PhD in composition from King’s College London, and he also spent a year at the Royal College of Music, as well as studying privately with Oliver Knussen. Graham’s music has been commissioned and performed in over thirty countries, as well as being frequently recorded to CD and featured on radio and television. Performers of his music include the BBC Symphony Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, BBC Singers, Orchestra of Opera North, BBC Concert Orchestra, and El Ultimo Tango from the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. He has also worked as an arranger for the Belcea Quartet. His works have been played in venues as diverse as the South Bank, Wigmore Hall, Merkin Hall New York, Paris Conservatoire, Palace of Monaco, and from the Freiberg Jazz Club to a cake shop in Japan, and everything in between.


Harpsichordist Assi Karttunen has specialized in performing and researching Baroque music. She also performs in interdisciplinary groups with experimental and contemporary repertory. Karttunen works as a musician-researcher and as a teacher at the DocMus, Doctoral school of Sibelius Academy, and teaches harpsichord playing and basso continuo at the Early Music department, Sibelius Academy.

She has recorded four solo albums and played in several orchestras and ensembles, currently working in her Elysian Fields -workshop www.elysion.fi. The emphasis of her thesis was on the aesthetic and philosophical background of the eighteenth century French cantata. Assi Karttunen has premiered and worked with several contemporary composers including British composer Graham Lynch, and Finnish composers Matthew Whittal, Olli Kortekangas, Paola Livorsi and Juha T. Koskinen.


Varpu Haavisto studied at the Sibelius Academy (Helsinki), where she was awarded her cello diploma in 1990 and diplomas in both early music ensemble playing and viol in 1996. She has undertaken further private study with Marcel Bergman in Tel Aviv and Laurence Dreyfus in London. She gave her début recital at the Sibelius Academy concert series in 2001. She performs in solo recitals and chamber ensembles both as cellist and viol-player, both in Finland and across Europe. She has performed as a soloist and chamber musician in the US and in Russia. She teaches the cello and the viol at Pirkanmaa Music Institute. Varpu has premiered and worked with several new gamba- and chamber music works by Finnish composers like Olli Kortekangas and Matthew Whittall.