Presenting our musicians: Tuija-Maija Nurminen

Muusikkohaastattelu 15-12-2017

Percussionist Tuija-Maija Nurminen loves musicals and computer games, and of course – music!

Tuija-Maija Nurminen


Short introduction
My job description as a percussionist is versatile: I get to play by myself, in duos, in small chamber ensembles, and also in symphony orchestras. Sometimes I play different percussion instruments, sometimes the timpani. And sometimes even the cactus (i.e. John Cage).

Tell us about yourself
In my childhood home in Tampere the radio was always on, and I mean always. It might explain why I remember so many Finnish and foreign schlagers so well. My granddad remembered us grandchildren: my brothers got the cars, I got the piano. My family did not play music; my parents worked as craftsmen, and my brothers, well, with those cars. It can, however, be mentioned that my grandfather and my uncle were professional musicians, which had a considerable effect on my choice of career – although my grandfather used to say: “I am a baker by profession, but music is my hobby”.

Music was always unnoticeably present in my life through the music class, the choir, music institutes and theatre. Especially as a child I remember thinking “what, doesn’t everyone play an instrument?”

How did you end up with your instrument?
My studies in music pedagogy began at the Sibelius Academy in 1989, and back then you had to select another minor instrument in addition to piano and singing. I thought I chose the easy way out by selecting the percussion: mallet instruments have “keys” –> I don’t have to practice so much (well…). The percussion studies were only a hobby in the beginning, but at some point they just swept me away. The moment came when I had to choose whether to continue with the piano or concentrate on percussion, and I chose the percussion. In 1996, I transferred to the solo department.

I think I joined the Baroque orchestra ”by accident” when a colleague asked if I was interested in doing a performance with what was then called the Sixth Floor Orchestra. I had no idea then of where I was going. But over the years I have learned so much from the orchestra musicians, and also from my Dutch colleague.

What inspires you as a musician and in life?
It probably sounds like a clichéd saying, but music itself is inspiring. The genre does not matter so much. Other musicians inspire, a brilliant conductor inspires. Silence inspires too. It is a good way to relax the mind before getting going again.

What other art form is close to your heart?
Haa! My childhood and adolescence have left their mark: theatre, and especially musicals. How many others dare to admit out loud that they love musicals! Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera, Chicago, the Book of Mormon... On the other hand, nothing tops a good beat on a run: Queen, Tower of Power, Justin Timberlake, Bruno Mars, Cee Lo Green...

Which is your greatest musical dream?
I simply do not have one big dream; making music is already a dream.

Which is your favourite travel destination, and why?
Through work I have had the chance to travel around, and there are places to which it would be wonderful to return. But I am boring and will answer this question in the same way as the previous one; there is no one favourite destination. You have to enjoy every place as much as possible. 

In what kind of a place does your soul find rest?
In the silence. Without stress. In the warm. In nature.

How do you feel your art is affecting society at large?
Unspoken communication is simply seeing the music affect the minds and beings in the audience. I would think that many listeners need to empty their minds (at least for a moment) from all noise. In the concert, you are allowed to be without thinking or doing anything.

Also FiBO Collegium’s cooperation projects are golden. It’s worth reading more about the Collegium on FiBO’s web site!

Why do you enjoy playing music that is over 300 years old?
Even though I have taken part in so many masses in B minor by Bach, for instance, listening to that piece is always just as striking.

“That something” in the sound of a Baroque orchestra and the phrasing are just so special. And the older the music, the more creative the playing. Improvisation is challenging, and I like it!

Choose your favourite among FiBO’s spring 2018 concerts, and motivate your choice.
Definitely the Zeitgeist concert in Temppeliaukio Church on Saturday 1 Jan 2018. Meta4 will lead us (those guys have incredible energy!), and two piano virtuosos play solo. Speed and dangerous situations coming up!

Which is your guilty pleasure?
Nintendo DS. Yes, you got it right, Nintendo DS. I like Zelda or Mario the most. Say no more. And of course singing those musicals.

If you had to run the Cooper test or bake for a party of 30 people, which would you choose?
Cooper, and preferably without the stopwatch. Running is best without pressure and staring at the time.

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