Iiro Rantala

Iiro Rantala, born in 1970, is a major public figure and musical advocate in Finland. As a teenager, he was playing in several jazz and pop groups around Finland. When his Trio Töykeät was formed in 1988, Rantala concentrated on this group for 18 years. The trio were known for a unique combination of deep musicality and madcap humour, and played over 2,000 shows in forty-five countries. At age of 26, Rantala also started a career in classical music, playing Mozart concertos and Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” with Finlands leading orchestras.

He has published his autobiography “Nyt sen voi jo kertoa” (Now It Can Be Told, 2011) and has written music for dozens of plays and musicals, as well as a few feature length films. He has also hosted a piano festival and a concert series at the Allotria club in Helsinki. He has been running the Jazz Piano Festival at Kapsäkki since 2011. In 2013 he was given Finland’s highest award for artists the Pro Finlandia medal, and in 2015 a substantial five-year grant for artistic work by Finnish state. He was awarded the 2012 ECHO Jazz award for Best International Pianist, the annual prize of the Deutsche Schallplattenkritik and the German Jazz GOLD Award, to name but a few.


After meeting at university in Dusseldorf, Erol Sarp and Lukas Vogel formed Grandbrothers to tie together their respective musical backgrounds and disciplines: Erol is a trained jazz pianist, while by day Lukas constructs synthesizers at Access Music. Together, they create a sound that combines classical composition with modern, experimental production and sound design.

Their first full EP on FILM – backed by remixes from legendary Manchester DJ Greg Wilson, Optimo’s JD Twitch, and Kim Brown – which sold out its initial run within ten days. Now, Grandbrothers present their debut album, Dilation. Tracks start as repeated two or three note patterns, which gradually develop into sweeping, cinematic soundscapes, recalling the structural and rhythmic qualities club music as much as it does the work of a composer like Steve Reich, as well as Ryuichi Sakamoto’s collaborations with Alva Noto. Surprisingly, there are no synthetic sounds on Dilation: Erol and Lukas deliberately restrict themselves to the sounds of the grand piano. To achieve this modern sound, Lukas developed an unusual system for playing the piano. Drawing on his technical background, he created a series of electromechanical hammers that could be controlled via laptop (on software that he designed himself, no less) to ‘play’ the piano.

Trio Belli-Fischer-Rimmer

The Deutsche Musikrat prizewinners Frederic Belli, Johannes Fischer (percussion) and Nicholas Rimmer (piano), formed Trio Belli-Fischer-Rimmer for the Bundesauswahl “Konzerte junger Künstler”. All three musicians have been awarded numerous prizes in national and international competitions and perform worldwide as soloists or chamber musicians.

Nicholas Rimmer is a much sought-after chamber music player, Lieder accompanist and pianist with the Leibnitz-Trio. He also teaches at the Hannover University of Music, Drama and Media. Johannes Fischer is percussion professor at the Lübeck Academy of Music and is also a composer and conductor.

It was already clear during the exceptionally successful 2008/9 concert season that this unusual combination of trombone, piano and drums would continue, in spite of the three members’ other commitments as soloists and musicians. The trio skillfully blends a variety of epochs and styles in their program. Sometimes using their own arrangements, they present music from Bach to Xenakis, Debussy to Piazolla, spanning classical, jazz and new music with such musical joie de vivre and exploring the versatile possibilities of their instruments.

The trio has commissioned several new works for the 2011/12 season, so it will be exciting to see what the future has in store for the three musicians and their audiences in terms of unconventional directions beyond traditional listening habits.

Rebekka Bakken

If it was up to Rebekka Bakken, people would not talk about her music, but rather just listen to it. The singer-songwriter with the deeply touching three-octave range is an “Anti Drama Queen” – a restless soul and at rest within herself at the same time. Hearing is feeling is living, when it comes to this emotional artist. But maybe it is also because her songs are so poetic and meaningful and her melodies speak so clearly and beautifully, that the curiosity to find out what is behind them is so enormous. With her fifth album the Norwegian singer, who was living in New York and Vienna for a long time and now makes her home on a horse-farm in Sweden, continues her “American series”. Produced in close collaboration with Malcolm Burn in Kingston, New York, the twelve self-confident and straightforward songs of “September” present themselves as one of the most beautiful, Country-influenced song-albums of our time. Brilliantly sung, sensually and lusciously played, these songs about love, life, lust and misery – the oldest topics in the world – always seem up to date. Their sound already is so unique and original, that even the three cover-versions of songs by Bruce Springsteen, Jane Siberry, and Alphaville, fit perfectly with Bakken’s own new compositions. This music touches, on many levels. “Communication”, as Rebakka Bakken says, “is so much more than words.”

The fact that Rebekka Bakken does not only sing but also play her own music, which she has always composed on piano, helps in creating a new, free, and self-assured expression. “Music cannot not happen”, she says, consciously using the double negative. “If you try, it’s not going to work. But if people don’t think too much, music can some.” This natural and self-evident quality can be heard in the music on “September” during its almost one-hour-long journey across an enormous emotional scope; especially when one listens to it and does not talk about it too much.

Taksim Trio

Taksim Trio

Bonded to their instruments, committed to their friendship, Taksim Trio is a sublime example of what happens when three like-minded souls mix, mingle and merge into one. Featuring three of Turkey’s most in-demand master instrumentalists, Taksim Trio is made up of Hüsnü Senlendirici on the clarinet, Ismail Tunçbilek on the baglama and Aytaç Dogan on the quanun.

Dancing between different musical styles such as traditional, arabesque, jazz and classical, the musicians emerge with a sound that is the sum of their experiences. Some of the works on the album include phrases of music that will sound familiar and yet different, as the musicians update melodies they have picked up on their journeys to reflect their own musical identities.

Perhaps the reason why Taksim Trio is the perfect vehicle for these virtuosos to display their character is because the musicians have supreme control of their instruments, which comes to light through their inventive improvisations, or “taksims”. This honest and compelling album conveys the undeniable fact that for these musicians music is sacred. “Taksim Trio…making music inspired by the heart of Istanbul. / Taksim Trio is a super-ambient album meant to seep into the listener’s mind and unravel over time.“