MY STORY

It´s not what you do, it´s about how and why you do it. Making music is all about connection; a connection between the artists, the audience and the experience of something bigger -
the mystery of human life.

My career in music has been a pilgrimage. I have been lucky to meet many amazing people during my journey, which has been filled with days of creative flow, but also heavy moments when the pace has been very slow. And even though my path hasn´t always been easy, I wouldn't change a day - living life as an artist is worth all the trouble.

At the moment I´m based in Helsinki, the capital of Finland. Helsinki is a city with an active music life, different kinds of events, and a growing underground arts scene. I work here mainly as a freelance oboist, producer, and conductor. You can find more information about my current and upcoming projects in the "PROJECTS" section.

I grew up in Oulu, a small city in Northern Finland. For me, Oulu was the perfect environment for establishing my musicianship because of its great music schools. In Oulu, I was also introduced to jazz and improvisation by my friend, pianist Antti Ojala, with whom I had a duo. In high school, we performed approximately 50 gigs a year- such an amount of music playing that, without it, I don't think I would be where I am now. 

During high school, I was accepted into the Sibelius Academy Youth Department and moved to Helsinki where I finished high school. My years in Sibelius Academy were filled with great musical experiences, making friends that I still am close with, learning new things about myself and finding some answers to the questions that had haunted me my whole life. From where I stand right now I have to say that Sibelius Academy is a school that has maintained a certain openness in the education it offers; something that is definitely needed in classical music making because of the heavy weight tradition places on it.

My oboe teachers have always been very helpful in pushing me forward. For example, it was my teacher in Oulu, Regina Hamarikivi, who suggested that I should go to Helsinki to have lessons. In Sibelius-Academy, I had two teachers, Sven-Erik Paananen and Jorma Valjakka, who were very good at guiding me in the difficult world of oboe playing. Both of them encouraged me to apply abroad to study and after some beautiful coincidences and three years of university studies, I finally applied for a student exchange through the Erasmus program.

My path led to Basque Country, Spain to a paradise city called San Sebastian and Musikene, a music school that is located on a hill in a castle that used to be Francisco Franco's summer cottage. I had the privilege to practice oboe in a classroom from which I could see the waves of the Atlantic ocean. The sea relieved my strong feelings of homelessness. One person, in particular, helped me. Composer Gabriel Loidi’s lessons managed to make me feel at home and eventually changed my whole view of written music.

My oboe teacher in San Sebastian was Christian Wetzel, a former student of the grand legend Ingo Goritzki. Studying oboe with Christian Wetzel was an eye-opening experience and after my year in Spain, I applied to Cologne, Germany, to study in his class.

Those years I will never forget.

My first impression of Cologne was that it wasn´t the city of my dreams. Although the Dom blew my mind, the city felt gray. My first impression turned out to be completely wrong. The University of music in Cologne was full of determination and talent, and the class of 20 young oboe students was the perfect place to study the instrument. However, I started to feel that maybe classical music, filled with its traditions, wasn´t the only way I wanted to practice music. I found a collective of people who were interested in arts and life in a more general manner. I spent my evenings with movie directors, painters, photographers, and coders. I started to realize that there definitely is a common feeling for all those who dedicate their lives to wandering. Improvisation gatherings held by pianist Paulo Álvars in school every Monday helped me separate true heartfelt music-making from the technical performing of music with my instrument.  I listened to the concerts of the Köln Filharmonie very often, but they weren't the only events where one could experience music in an explosive, orgasmic manner because the city was full of determined and passionate music making. I definitely miss Cologne a lot.

However, when things seem too good to be true, often something sinister is bound to happen. After some very unfortunate events I took a break from oboe playing, quit my studies in Germany and returned to Finland. Everything in life happens for a reason even if that is hard to believe at the moment. Reorganizing my own life wasn´t an easy task, but with patience and much support from my friends, I managed. 

 

Every cloud has a silver lining, though. These events made me realize many things about how I wanted to live my life. In 2016 I started engaging with my longtime dream, conducting, and was accepted to Sibelius-Academy Wind Conducting Class. I had had an idea that first one has to really experience the core of what is to be a musician before one can truly lead other musicians. It seemed that for me the time was ready to start a new path.

I learned three things from my ordeals: let life flow in its own path; be whatever you want to be; and lastly, the human mind is capable of so much more than we can even imagine. Learning these points is the true reason I am what I am today: a musician, who works as an improvisation artist, studies conducting in one of the main music universities of Europe, and produces all kinds of festivals and events. My dreams would never have been possible if I hadn't learned the lessons that life threw at me and if I hadn't had amazing people around me. 


Sincerely,

Saku









 

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