Sebastian Hilli (b. 1990) (FI)

Born in Helsinki, Finland in 1990, Hilli attended the Sibelius Academy, University of the Arts, Helsinki, where he recently completed his Master’s degree in composition with prof. Veli-Matti Puumala, with the highest grades possible (5/5). During this time he also spent a year at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna studying under prof. Michael Jarrell. Hilli has participated in various workshops and master classes, for example, studying composition with Lauri Kilpiö, Jukka Tiensuu, Jouni Kaipainen, Hans Abrahamsen, Simon Steen-Andersen, Philippe Manoury, Martijn Padding and Mark Andre and with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra. Hilli currently works as a freelancer.

His works have been performed both in Finland and abroad, including Oslo, Vienna, New York, Tokyo, Copenhagen, Esbjerg, Dresden, Freiburg and Helsinki and at various festivals such as, Avanti! Summer Sounds, Time of music festival, Mise-en music festival, UNM festivals and the Klang concert series in Helsinki. Hilli’s music has been played by ensembles such as Avanti!, Zagros, Curious Chamber Players, Esbjerg Ensemble, NYKY-Ensemble, Cikada, Ensemble Mise-en, Ensemble Recherche, Sed Contra Ensemble, Kamus-Quartet and the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra.




Contrary to what is typical for me, I did not have a strict and fixed structure for this piece. Instead, I progressed narratively – sensing what kind of music would materialize next. Thus, the form of the music developed gradually as the process progressed. My dramaturgical method was often to adopt the viewpoint of the listener. Sensing how the music advanced, I developed an idea of reaching something, which then became the central theme.

My approach to Reachings was that of being on a journey without knowing where I was headed. It creates a feeling that the music is accomplishing its destination, but just when it is reaching the point it strives for, the music is suddenly drawn back or takes a new turn. It is not about reaching the final goal but about the journey.

The piece was awarded 1st prize at the Toru Takemitsu Composition Award 2015 in Tokyo, Japan. The judge, Kaija Saariaho, said of the composition:

”Reachings struck me by its determined sense of formal plan and its realization. The music is directional, yet surprising. An intense concentration is carrying the music through the work. The music has an urge to advance, but it is done under a control so that the musical energy is well balanced, and the music breathes naturally.The range of different musical characters is large and emotionally fulfilling. The fresh quality of music reaches the very end of the piece. The orchestration is effective throughout and the score enjoyable to read in its clarity.”