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“What is most difficult for me… is how to concentrate, in the middle of all the possible musics and sounds of the world, on my music. My way is to focus on different things, to reduce, reduce, and then find the essential.”

Tone color and instrumental timbre are of central importance in the music of Saariaho. The Finnish composer studied at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki and with Brian Ferneyhough in Freiburg, but her move to Paris and the electronic music studios of IRCAM was decisive in the composition of a large amount of solo instrumental and chamber works in combination with electronic effects. Her lyrical flair is revealed in many songs and choral pieces, mostly for female voices, and she composed the ballet Maa (The Earth) for the Finnish National Ballet and the opera Lʼamour de loin for the Salzburg Festival. She was named Composer of the Year in 2008 by Musical America.