Kaarne for string orchestra


Strings 5/5/4/3/2. Commissioned by Ostrobothnian Chamber orchestra and Kaustinen Chamber Music Week 2018

Duration circa 9 min. 

photo: Minna Leinonen

For many composers the most difficult part of the composition process is to name the new piece. For me it goes the other way round. Usually prior to composing I need a name or at least a subject which gives an identity or an impulse to the work. In this commission by the Kaustinen Chamber Music I ended up with the word kaarne, which is an ancient name for raven but also bears a resemblance to a more familiar Finnish word kaarna (the bark of a tree). I thought this association fitted perfectly for this work for string orchestra, whose instruments are almost totally made of wood. I also wanted to look for extended playing techniques which would not only create wood-like sounds but also remind of the raven´s vocalization, its appearance and the mythology connected to it. In different cultures this distinguised bird has been seen as a bringer of light and understanding, a shamanistic spiritual guide and a totem animal, but also as a dark, ominous bringer of death.

Kaarne represented Finland in International Rostrum of Composers in 2018.

F.p. at the Kaustinen Chamber Music Week 2.2.2018 by the Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra conducted by Anna-Maria Helsing.

Other performances

9.12.2022 Kymi Sinfonietta & Janne Nisonen, conductor

8.12.2022 Kymi Sinfonietta & Janne Nisonen, conductor

27.7.2022 Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra with Dmitry Sitkovetsky, conductor

30.9.2021 Oulu Sinfonia with Gabriella Teychenné, conductor

19.2.2021 Tampere Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra with Taavi Oramo, conductor

18.6.2019 Finnish Broadcasting Company Aikamme suomalaista musiikkia

14.11.2018 Eesti klassika raadio

25.6.2018 ABC Classic Radio Australia

6.6.2018 Finnish Broadcasting Company Ajassa soi, commentator Aino-Maija Pennanen

11.5.2018 BBC 3 Radio

3.5.2018 BBC Philharmonic cond. Anna-Maria Helsing



When Sibelius approached [nature] motifs though Karelian mythicism, Leinonen goes straight in the middle of the nature. In Kaarne a raven croaks, bark rustles and the nature lives wild. Gliding sounds do not obey keys but the laws of nature.

  • Harri Hautala, Aamulehti 21.2.2021

Watch an interview (in Finnish) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gQsOpXEopRU