Ville Raasakka: Steam Engine

Sunday, 24 April 2022   |   18:00 - 20:00

Ville Raasakka: Steam Engine

The mass production of steam engines has been marked as the beginning of climate change in environmental research. The steam engine not only operated with coal, but enabled the extensive mining of coal. The Atmospheric Engine, developed and patented by Thomas Newcomen in 1712 in Cornwall was the first mass produced steam engine.

This composition is connected to this particular place and time. To the sounds produced by the Newcomen steam engine, and to a composer based in London in 1712, Georg Friedrich Händel.

The texts in the work are historical accounts on steam engines, coal mining and coal burning in Britain between 1661-1842. These include court hearings of workers in coal mines, reports of air quality in London and machine-romanticist poetry on steam engines.

I’ve used sound recordings of the historical steam engines as a starting point for the composition. The orchestra reproduces the sounds of the steam engine with the baroque instruments,  and flash-like citations from Händel appear. Olga Heikkilä, soprano and commissioner of this work, recorded numerous readings of the texts, and the recodings, our workshops and Olga’s voice form the basis for the vocal expression of this work.

The resulting work is a hybrid of instrumental concrete music and dramatic baroque cantata. The soprano's expression ranges from microtonal singing to sprechgesang, and from a human narrator to a living, breathing steam engine.

(Ville Raasakka)

  • Composer(s): Ville Raasakka
  • Title(s) of the Work(s):

    Steam Engine

  • Performer, Ensemble or Orchestra: 
Finnish Baroque Orchestra, Olga Heikkilä, soprano


Apr 24 2022


18:00 - 20:00

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Helsinki, House of Nobility, Finland


Helsinki, House of Nobility, Finland
Ritarikatu 1, 00170 Helsinki, Finland
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Ville Raasakka: Steam Engine on Spotify

Ville Raasakka: Steam Engine on SoundCloud

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