IT WAS AN evening with musical beauty and creativity when the Finnish Duo Kuusisto-Rantala project – consisting of Jaakko Kuusisto (violin) and Iiro Rantala (piano) performed at the Embassy of Finland in Washington, D.C. on Friday evening, Jan. 25.
THE VERSATILE DUO performed a program mix of many musical directions – from Johann Sebastian Bach and Jean Sibelius to music written by the performers themselves, not forgetting the 20th century popular classics.
BOTH MUSICIANS have had remarkable solo careers, vast record of prizes in competitions, and lists of compositions in various genres.
JAAKKO KUUSISTO launched his musical career as a violinist and later on as conductor and composer at the age of 15 in 1985, when he won the national violin competition in Kuopio, Finland. He studied the violin and also composition at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, and continued both studies at Indiana University.
HE HAS BEEN awarded prizes at major international violin competitions and has performed as a soloist with major orchestras. In 1999 Jaakko Kuusisto was appointed concertmaster of the Lahti Symphony Orchestra, and he has regularly conducted the orchestra with a wide variety of repertoire, including symphony concerts, and popular and rock programs. He has also done recordings.
AS A CHILD Iiro Rantala attended a Music School in Helsinki and was also a member of the famous Cantores Minored Choir. His formal education started at Oulunkyl?Pop & Jazz Conservatory, and he continued his studies in Sibelius Academy’s Jazz Department and in Manhattan School of Music.
CURRENTLY HE IS touring with the solo project “Lost Heroes” in Europe and Australia. In his projects he is often having programs that break the conventional rules of musical genres. In particular, he loves to mix jazz and classical music, and often reminds audiences of Keith Jarrett with his style and performance. As a classical music soloist Iiro Rantala has worked with many well-known conductors, and he also composes. And his compositions have accompanied over 20 theater and dance productions, as well as film productions.