To listen to Rebecka Sofia Ahvenniemi’s music is to become open to the possibility of hearing surprising things: in her work, and through her compositional methods, the familiar is made strange and the unfamiliar finds space to sound. One encounters quotations from music history (or are they imagined quotations?), as well as fragmented and invented languages. The listener is invited to explore the intimate and hidden, gestural and timbral qualities of sound. Working with scores, electronics, voices, and instruments, Ahvenniemi creates works that range from operatic and theatrical scenes to solo compositions.
In many of her musical works, as in her research and writing, Ahvenniemi engages in questions that critically concern culture and society on a larger scale, including cultural politics. She was awarded her Doctorate for her dissertation Musical Composition as Lingering Reflection: Exploring the Critical Potential of Music (2021) by the Faculty of the Arts at the University of Helsinki. The thesis examined the role of music as a critical voice in the contemporary world.
Originally from Finland, Ahvenniemi was educated in composition and philosophy in Bergen, Berlin, New York, and Helsinki, and these joint disciplines are expressed in her compositions, research, and teaching. Ahvenniemi is a board member of the Arts Council Norway, where she leads the committee Support for Tours. She was the board leader of the concert series Avgarde from 2019 to 2020, a board member of Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra from 2016 to 2021, and a board member of the Norwegian Society of Composers from 2013 to 2018. Her work has been performed internationally, and she has collaborated with contemporary music festivals and international artists from Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada.
— Dr. Lauren Redhead