Teemu Mastovaara

Finnish Cellist & Composer

Cellist and composer Teemu Mastovaara in front of a tree by the Aura River.
Photography by Venla Kaasinen

Some of the top moments of my career

December 2014

Music Educator (AMK), major: cello

Graduated as a cello teacher from Turku AMK with Erkki Lahesmaa and Timo Hanhinen as my teachers.

August 2015

Diploma from Turku AMK

For actively searching for new ways to work in the department of music by taking part in cross-disciplinary and international projects.

June 2016

Supplementary studies in musicology

Included a bachelor’s thesis where I researched nature sounds used on Moonsorrow’s Verisäkeet album.

December 2018

Master in Contemporary Performance and Composition

Each semester was spent in four different universities in Tallinn, Stockholm, Lyon and Hamburg. The studies consisted of new music performance and composition, programming, electronic and electroacoustic music, music history and improvisation. My teachers included Bill Brunson, Per Mårtensson, Mattias Sköld, Taavi Kerikmäe, Helena Tulve, Michele Tadini, Johannes Kreidler, Alexander Schubert and Georg Hajdu.

February 2020

Emma Nomination for album with Swallow the Sun “When a Shadow is Forced into the Light”

Played cello on the album.

December 2022

Taike: Regional grant

6 month working grant

December 2022

Commission for Forssa 100 years

“Elementtejä Forssasta” for orchestra and choir commissioned by Terhi Karhumäki from Lounais-Häme Music School, in honour of Forssa 100 years celebrations.

Sharing the beauty of music through cello and composition

I’m a cellist and composer. My music making is motivated by emotions, aesthetics both beautiful and harsh, energy, and cross-border experimentality. My work consists of cello playing, composition, theatre productions, recordings, programming and teaching. I enjoy giving the audience a chance to interact with my works and performances.

In addition to playing the acoustic cello, I expand its’ expressional capabilities through the use of live electronics, most notably Max/MSP. Max/MSP is a visual programming tool that can be used to control sound, video and even light! The old joke goes: “A teacher told their students that Max/MSP is capable of doing everything except making coffee. The next lesson one of the students shows up with a Max/MSP patch capable of making coffee.”

Why do I want to focus both on playing the cello and composing on a high level? I think both of them give so much to one another: when I perform with the cello, I also get familiar with more repertoire, and more closely than I would just analysing a score on paper. On the other hand, by having the mindset of a composer, I better understand what composers’ mean with what they write, and it has also helped me to understand structures behind compositions: it is extremely important not only to “sound good”, but to also understand why different sections follow each other within a piece in the way they do.

Mit inniger Empfindung

”Teemu Mastovaara’s Mit inniger Empfindung (for violin, cello, percussion, piano, gayageum, painter and electronics) gleefully combined Schumann, rock music, Jackson Pollock, Monet, tape music, and Korean zither into a strange mish-mash of concert experiences that shifted gears at breakneck speed. One moment we were listening to a lovely piano trio, the next we were at a rock gig. The whiplash-fast way the piece changed pace contrasted surreally with the static experience of listening to a classical concert”

James Black, Seismograf.org, 7th October 2019

“Det blir en riktig cross-over upplevelse med spröda stråkförsedda klassiska partier, en ettrig pianodel och ett crescendo i form av tungt riffande rock. Lägg därtill det exotiska knäppandet från Youjin Seongs märkliga stränginstument och du har ett stycke som smeker, slår och skakar om."

Anders Sandlund, Piteå-Tidningen, 29th August 2019