Echoes of the Universe – The Music of Kaija Saariaho

At first, the music felt so big and important that it seemed difficult to think that I could add anything to it.” 
– Kaija Saariaho

The documentary film ECHOES OF THE UNIVERSE examines the maturation of composer Kaija Saariaho from a shy girl from Helsinki to the world’s most respected contemporary composer. In the 1970s and 1980s, Saariaho was an exception as the only woman among composition students both in Finland and in France. In the 80s Saariaho went to Freiburg, Germany for postgraduate studies and from there to IRCAM in Paris, where she met her future husband Jean-Baptiste Barrière.

Saariaho’s first opera, L’Amour de loin, immediately became an international success in 2000. When the opera was performed at the Metropolitan in 2016, it was the third opera created by a female composer in the history of the house in 100 years. When Saariaho’s latest opera, Innocence, premiered in France in Aix-en-Provence in the summer of 2021, the New York Times chose Saariaho as the most important contemporary composer of the year. The libretto for the opera was written by Sofi Oksanen and dramatized by the director, dramaturg Aleksi Barrière. Along with Saariaho’s compositions, the documentary follows the mutual cooperation of Saariaho’s talented family members in its various forms. Saariaho’s accident in a hotel in Japan in the spring of 2021 brings drama to the documentary as the composer is forced into a wheelchair and submits to the help of his family members.

Saariaho’s music has been played all over the world for 45 years and she has been awarded with 25 significant awards and recognitions, e.g. Golden Lion Lifetime Achievement award in Venice in September 2021. Director Peter Sellars, conductors Susanna Mälkki, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Clément Mao-Takacs, soprano Anu Komsi, writer Sofi Oksanen, choir director Simon Halsey, folk musician Vilma Jää, Kaija Saariaho’s Steinerkoulu classmates and teacher Marja Dahlström share their thoughts on Saariaho in the documentary.

The documentary was shot in 2019-2022. The length of the film is 1 hr 20 min.


Director and screen wrighter: Riitta Rask
Head cinematographer: Pekka Uotila
Sound recorder: Christian Pulkkinen
Leikkaaja: Maria Haipus
Sound Designer: Salla Hämäläinen
Mixing: Sami Sarhamaa
Graphics: Studio Pekka Piippo
Head producer: Teatro Productions Oy / Kaisa Näreranta

Echoes of the Universe – The Music of Kaija Saariaho will premiere at DocPoint Festival on Friday 3 Feb 2023 at 17.00 in BioRex and second performance in the Savoy Theatre on Saturday 4 Feb at 14.00.

Find more info on the festival and tickets from the official website of the DocPoint Festival 

Extra preformances at the DocPoint:
– Malmitalo Tue 7.2 at 20.00 (free entrance)
– Lumosali, Vantaa Wed 8.2 at 20.00 (free entrance)