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A Conversation with Matti Raekallio

Honeywell Arts Academy is so excited to welcome Matti Raekallio as a faculty mentor for June 2022’s Soundboard Institute. Matti is known as an acclaimed performer and pedagogue internationally. He currently teaches at Sibelius Academy in his home country of Finland as well as at the Juilliard School in New York City. We had the opportunity to have a conversation about this coming summer at the Academy.

What are you looking forward to this summer at Honeywell Arts Academy Soundboard Institute?

One of the great perks is, there are many, one of the things is that the number of participants is limited and they are a very select bunch. It’s up to a Peter and me to do the selection in such a way that the bunch of pianists collected there is active enough and diverse enough, different enough, so that they come from let's say different musical backgrounds. Some might be having a jazz background that would be actually very cool and that gives a very nice cross current to this whole thing. The students could also be diverse in different ways say there could be some who have a background in old music let's say period instruments for the pianos harpsichords even or there might be some composition students who also would give a different kind of perspective to what we are doing. This would enrich everybody else's mind about what is happening there. A very very top notch but select and a very different bunch of people there to present a free discussion of things like a free exchange of ideas which just come up from very unexpected sources, I mean that would be fantastic.

Have you found in your career that you have a specialty or focus on a specific genre?

I am very interested in different genres however I must say that I’m not too good in others besides possibly the sort of standard classical piano repertoire. Which of course I have been working with for quite a while. Within that repertoire I would say that the Germanic and also Russian composers have been like a mainstay of my own pianistic interest. When I was playing that was my center. On the other hand the presence of Peter there it's a fantastically enriching thing because he obviously has so many different kind of runs where he's actively involved and I'm looking forward to learning lots from Peter. I’m certainly very open to different ideas and different perspectives I mean that's why I'm so excited about this whole idea. Different kinds of people meeting in a very intense setting for a limited time with a limited number of people too. We’re all from the classical tradition and have those wonderful mechanics and bring that pristine musicianship but to be able to you know let go of that a little bit, I think just makes all playing extra special. You know it can bring some spark and uniqueness that is exciting.

Any final thoughts before we get to see you in June at the Academy?

I think you guys are doing something incredibly valuable here. You really put your finger on something which is absolutely needed and luckily you have found the right means and the right organization and the right place and whatever to make this actually happen. And I’m really really glad and grateful for the people who have and will have this experience and the chance to experiment.

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