Friends of Music will present Mika Rännäli performing the program “Sibelius and Beyond” on piano at 3 p.m. Sunday at the Robinson Terrace Skilled Nursing Facility.
After completing his Master of Music degree at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki and continuing his studies at the Manhattan School of Music under the guidance of Nina Svetlanova, Rännäli made his New York debut in December 1999. He has toured extensively in Scandinavia, central and southern Europe, Japan and the United States. As a composer, Rännäli’s works have been premiered by and dedicated to the top Finnish artists such as baritone Jorma Hynninen, violinist Pekka Kuusisto, sopranos Helena Juntunen and Anna-Kristiina Kaappola. His oeuvre consists mainly of piano works in addition to some vocal and string compositions.
According to a media release, Rännäli “has an extremely varied musical and artistic background. He has studied the violin, trumpet and piano, and is also a composer. In addition, he has been a three-time Champion in Latin American-style and ballroom dancing in Finland. For seven years he served as the artistic director of the Oulu Music Festival, which takes place annually near the Arctic Circle in Finland.”
In her review of the closing concert of the Greenwich Symphony’ s 52nd season, critic Linda Phillips wrote “Mika Rännäli’s performance was better, blending power, technique, artistic sensibility, and that sort of riveting presence that is simply a gift.
“Commanding from his entrance, Mr. Rännäli played the open chords of Allegro non troppo e molto maestoso with power, and the rolling chords with magnificence. The quiet octaves were a precursor to astonishing ones later, the piano codas throughout the movement, breathtaking. ... The demanding work seemed child’s play for the soloist, whose performance was technically, interpretively, and emotionally perfect.”
The program “Sibelius and Beyond” celebrates the 150th anniversary of the birth of the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius (1865-1957). Folk music and a singing tone were “of the utmost importance to Sibelius,” the release explained. Sibelius went as far as to say that “all music has its seed in folk music.” In describing his relationship with the piano he said, “Piano as an instrument is extremely challenging, since it is hard to make it sing.” Rännäli will introduce the music in the program, which will include pieces by Einojuhani Rautavaara, Leevi Madetoja, Toivo Kuula, Sergei Rachmaninoff and Frederic Chopin, in addition to four piano pieces by Sibelius.
Refreshments will follow the concert. A suggested donation of $12 per person, or $6 for senior citizens and students, is requested. There is no charge for those younger than 13. Robinson Terrace, at 28652 State Route 23 in Stamford, is handicapped-accessible, with parking available on site.
“Sibelius and Beyond” is the second program in Friends of Music’s 2015 series. Upcoming performances include a Father’s Day concert featuring “Musicians of Ma’alwyck” performing Italian chamber music on June 21; the Julliard Jazz Ensemble on July 19; and “A Sonic Journey Through the East” with Tavche Gravche on Aug. 16. More information about the program, and upcoming concerts, is available at the Friends of Music website at www.friendsmusic.org.