The sheer quantity and diversity of music being written in Finland today continues to surprise and delight us. But one significant strand in this otherwise egalitarian success story has remained in the shadows: the role of women composers. Kaija Saariaho appears to be the only such figure to hold a truly international reputation, raising basic questions: why should this be so, how are things changing and what kind of music is being produced. Outlining social and political issues that are distinctive to Finland helps to explain the emergence of Saariaho as a role model for younger women composers. It also invites a detailed case study of a leading member of this generation: Lotta Wennäkoski. This focus on an analytical reading of Wennäkoski's compositional process – as evidenced through her orchestral piece Sakara (2003) – reveals how this music communicates so effectively with contemporary audiences.
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