Jaakko Mäntyjärvi


Jaakko Mäntyjärvi (b. 1963 in Turku, Finland) is a freelance translator, composer and choir conductor. He completed an MA in English and Linguistics at the University of Helsinki in 1991 and is accredited as an Authorised Translator between Finnish and English. He also studied music theory and choir conducting at the Sibelius Academy.

As a composer, Mäntyjärvi styles himself an ‘eclectic traditionalist’: eclectic in that he assimilated influences from a variety of styles and eras; traditionalist in that his idiom is largely rooted in traditional means and communicative aspects of music. Being an active choral musician himself, his approach to composing is pragmatic, and nearly all of his published works are for choir. The most notable of these include Four Shakespeare Songs (1984), Kouta (1996), More Shakespeare Songs (1997), the 40-part motet Tentatio (2006), Stuttgarter Psalmen (2009) and Trinity Service (2019). His memorial to the 1994 sinking of the ferry Estonia, Canticum calamitatis maritimae, received 3rd prize in a European composition competition for cathedral choirs in 1997.

Mäntyjärvi is one of Finland’s internationally best-known composers of choral music. Many of his more than 100 published works are among his publisher Sulasol’s best-selling titles and have been performed on all inhabited continents, particularly in Germany, the USA and Japan. His works have been recorded by numerous choirs, including discs dedicated to his works by the Tapiola Chamber Choir (ECLECTICA, Finlandia Records 2001), Cor Cantiamo in Illinois, USA (Canticum, Centaur 2014) and the Choir of Trinity College Cambridge in the UK (MÄNTYJÄRVI, Hyperion 2020).

His principal commissions to date include works for the World Symposium on Choral Music (Face the music, 2008; Juliet November Tango, 2017), for the vocal ensembles Chanticleer (Ballad of the Oysterman, 2001; Hommage à Edith, 2016) and the King’s Singers (Armahda meidän päällem’, 2002) and for the International Bach Academy in Stuttgart (Stuttgarter Psalmen, 2009).

As a performing musician, Jaakko Mäntyjärvi has sung with multiple choirs, including the Savonlinna Opera Festival choir and the professional Sibelius Academy Vocal Ensemble. He was composer-in-residence of the Tapiola Chamber Choir from 2000 to 2005, conductor of the Savolaisen Osakunnan Laulajat student choir 1988–1993 and deputy conductor of the Tapiola Chamber Choir 1998–2004. In 2015, he established Chamber Choir cc FREIA, an ensemble of highly experienced choral singers. He has given lectures and workshops e.g. at Westminster Choir College (Princeton, New Jersey) and at the Europa Cantat festival, and he has been a jury member at several choral competitions. He is also an occasional lecturer, including a course on the history of choral music at the Sibelius Academy.

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Jaakko Mäntyjärvi