Age Veeroos Received the Lepo Sumera Composition Award 2023

Photo: Tõiv Jõul
Photo: Tõiv Jõul

On 16 July, at the concert by Paavo Järvi and the Estonian Festival Orchestra at the Pärnu Music Festival, composer Age Veeroos was presented with the Lepo Sumera Award for Composition, initiated by the Estonian Authors’ Society and the Estonian Composers’ Union.

The Lepo Sumera Award for Composition honours the clear development of an author’s style, the scale of her musical thinking and the artistic depth of her work. To the jury belonged composer Helena Tulve, musicologist Kerri Kotta and sound artist Tammo Sumera.

Age Veeroos is one of the most important creators of Estonian sound-modernist chamber music. The radicalism of the sound modernist turn in the 1990s was apparently completely unnoticed even by the most important composers who represented this turn, whose works still paid a certain toll on tradition in terms of form. An uncompromising seeker, Age Veeroos has spent decades exploring the meaning of a sound-based composition and rejecting all too obvious or convenient solutions. The result is a rare balance between sound and form. In the music of Age Veeroos, sound does not to have adapt to a predetermined formal archetype — by discovering, experimenting and transforming itself, sound creates form. From seemingly random fragments, a musical Brownian motion, a crystal clear structure emerges, the integrity of which is difficult to articulate through discursive analysis. It is not spectacular music, but a deeper exploration of it can be a transformative experience.

“Music by Age Veeroos creates a sensitive, enigmatic sound-space, where there is no room for simplification or empty talk.  The personal poetic expression is supported by an important layer of electronics, in the use of which Age Veeroos is one of the most consistent and determined on the Estonian music scene. The composer’s contribution to the training of a new generation of composers, both at Heino Eller Music School and the summer creative lab, which is an important nursery for our young composers, is also noteworthy,” Helena Tulve comments on the jury’s decision.

Age Veeroos graduated from the University of Tartu in 1998 with a degree in German philology. In 1993/1994 she continued his studies in literature at the University of Göttingen. Veeroos studied composition at the Heino Eller Music School in Tartu 1996—1998, obtained her master’s degree cum laude at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre in 2006 under Helena Tulve and Eino Tamberg, and in 2005/2006 studied at the Karlsruhe University of Music with Wolfgang Rihm. Age Veeroos is also in the process of obtaining a doctoral degree at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre with a thesis on the role of the bowed instruments’ sul ponticello in the tonal processes of music.

Music by Age Veeroos has been performed by Ensemble Musikfabrik (conductor Clement Power), Klangforum Wien (conductor Bas Wiegers), Sinfonietta Rīga String Quartet, Slagwerk Den Haag, Estonian National Symphony Orchestra (conductor Risto Joost), Hashtag Ensemble, Arditti String Quartet, Ensemble U:, Una Corda, Athelas Sinfonietta Copenhagen, Tallinn Chamber Orchestra (conductor Risto Joost), Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir (conductor Paul Hillier), several soloists from Estonia and abroad. Her works have been performed at festivals such as Baltic and Estonian Music Days, ISCM World Music Days, International Contemporary Music Festival Afekt, etc.

In 2010, Age Veeroos and a 6-member team won the first prize in the competition Operare 2010 of the Zeitgenössische Oper Berlin for a musical theatre project (opera entitled Grid was performed in Berlin in 2011). In autumn 2020, the percussion piece I am the Big Moon on Your Horizon was nominated for the international ballot of the 17th European Contemporary Composers’ Orchestra’s (ECCO) concert of the European Composer and Songwriter Alliance (ECSA). The work was selected and was broadcast on Youtube in February 2021, performed by Joey Marijs of Slagwerk Den Haag.

Nominations for the Lepo Sumera Award for Composition were submitted by members of the jury. The laureate was revealed in a jury discussion. Previous winners have been Tõnu Kõrvits, Helena Tulve, Toivo Tulev, Jüri Reinvere, Galina Grigorjeva, Ülo Krigul, Tatjana Kozlova-Johannes. The prize has been awarded since 2016.

The prize is accompanied by a cash award of €4,500 from the Estonian Authors’ Society and the Estonian Composers’ Union.