Biography in English

Niilo Tarnanen (born 1987 in Espoo, Finland) is a composer-musician who loves working on his own but for community. His mainfold works, from improvisatory card game to Christmas carols, soundscape to protest cantata, are inspired by the self-contradictory and chaotic life experience of an animal called human.


Highlights of Tarnanen’s output include Schwebe (2013) for sixteen musicians, premiered by Avanti Chamber Orchestra, and the electroacoustic quartet Kään (2014), premiered by defunensemble. Besides Finland, his works have been performed in France, Germany, Lithuania, Estonia, Sweden, Australia, and Denmark.


In addition to his compositional activity, Tarnanen is the current chairperson of Korvat auki, the society of young composers based in Finland, and works as the project coordinator of curriculum reform in the Composition and Music Theory department of Sibelius Academy, University of the Arts Helsinki.


Tarnanen received his degree of Master of Music in Sibelius Academy, University of the Arts Helsinki in 2015, majoring in composition with prof. Veli-Matti Puumala. Earlier, Tarnanen studied composition with Lauri Kilpiö and Jukka Koskinen. In July 2013, ”Music Laboratory the PROCESS” in Nida, Lithuania made a deep impact on Tarnanen’s musical thinking, focusing it towards the tension between the perceived sound and conceptual thinking.


Tarnanen’s main instrument is bassoon, which he has studied with Erkki Suomalainen, Jaakko Luoma, Jussi Särkkä and Mika Ylärakkola, but singing is at least equally crucial for his personal relationship to music. He both sings and plays bassoon in Korvat auki ensemble, a group of improvised and experimental music he founded with his young colleagues in 2013. Juvenalia Choir has made him lover of Early music, and he is at his home both in the orchestra and in an a cappella consort. On opera, he has experience in the pit and on the stage.


At the age of ten, Tarnanen was charmed by atoms, at the age of eighteen by diversity of eukarya. He has translated Hungarian poetry, and presided a local Green committee writing a policy paper on urban planning. In 2012, serving as the last chairperson of the Sibelius Academy Student Union (SAY), he organized an interdisciplinary camp of peer-learning, as well as was heard in the Education and Culture Committee of Finnish Parliament on founding University of the Arts Helsinki. In his master’s thesis, Huojunta sävellysteknisenä mahdollisuutena (’Auditory beating as a compositional opportunity’) he reflected certain passages of his own oeuvre in light of psychoacoustics.