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Academy Winds is aiming international


On Saturday March 1st the Academy Winds, the Sibelius Academy symphonic wind band of almost 50 student players, will give its all-time second concert. The orchestra’s primus motor, Sibelius Academy lecturer Peter Ettrup Larsen is excited.  

There has been no more than a week to put this “instrument” together, and this is of course a challenge, but miracles can be done with hard work and a good attitude.

- The Academy Winds ensemble is a wonderful band, full of life! The students work very hard and the progress is amazing. The Academy Winds is basically a symphony orchestra without the strings. This puts a lot of extra pressure on everybody since nobody can hide. But just like our first concert last year, everybody takes the responsibility very serious and I'm very happy with the results so far, he acclaims.

Ettrup Larsen is familiar with the wind band scene all around the world. What they do in the U.S., he wanted to be done also in Finland. He made the initiative to put together a wind orchestra at the Sibelius Academy.

- Every American university, high school and most primary schools have at least one wind band, so of course we should also have one in Finland. There is at the moment a shortage of wind players in Finland and the opportunity to play in a world class wind ensemble is really something that will give the participants the energy to keep practicing.

Based on last year's performance the Academy Winds has received an invitation to perform at the 2014 MidWest Clinic in Chicago. The MidWest Clinic is the world's largest conference for orchestras and bands and last conference in December 2013 was attended by 19 000 people. The invitation naturally tells us something about the quality and level of the band!

- As part of Academy WInd's participation in the 2014 MidWest Clinic in Chicago, I was invited to do a Clinic at the recent conference in December 2013. I was talking about "The Finnish School of Conducting" and introduced all the things we do here at the Sibelius Academy to achieve a world leading position not just as an educational institution but also as top class music performers.

When asked about his approach to conducting, he describes it as quite different from the average American wind band conductor's.

- I approach the ensemble from a more symphonic vantage point. We focus a lot on phrasing and on sound quality in order to produce music that is equivalent to the symphonic counterpart. A top class wind ensemble is no different from a top symphony orchestra, it's just a different type of ensemble in its own rights.

Text: Karoliina Pirkkanen  

Academy Winds Concert in Helsinki Music Centre Sonore Hall on March 1st 2014

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