Presenting our musicians: Miska Miettunen

Musician interview 19.10.2019

The interest for music, awakened by his brother, made Miska Miettunen a French horn player, who also knows the natural horn and Baroque horn that are necessary in early music. 

Miska Miettunen

French horn (and natural horn and Baroque horn)

Short introduction
I have played the French horn in Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra since 1992, and also in the Savonlinna Opera Festival orchestra since 2001. I graduated from the Sibelius Academy in 2007, and I have studied further at e.g. London Royal College of Music. I have played the natural horn in FiBO for over twenty years. 

Tell us about yourself.
I was born in central Savonia, in the city of Varkaus. I followed my big brother's example and started practising music as a hobby, thanks to the accomplished, inspirational and original teacher in the village school. My parents are clearly musical, bu they do not have any background in playing instruments, not to mention any contact with classical music. They listened to Katri-Helena...

How did you end up with your instrument? Who or what made you choose it?
The horn was not my own choice. My brother started out with the violin, but changed to the oboe and further to the tuba, and at that point I, too, became interested in playing some sort of a tenor horn. When I was admitted to the music institute, however, they gave me a French horn, and that's how it started…

What inspires you as a musician and in life?
As a musician, I am inspired by various things, of course. It is a great privilege to get to play music by the best composers in the world. I don't approach music theoretically, but emotionally, and the beauty of music inspires me! I also get positive energy from when my great colleagues make music, and thankfully this wonderful orchestra has plenty of them!  

What other art form is close to your heart?
I enjoy a variety of other forms of art. I am a friend of books, and I also love films and musical theatre. In another life, I could have been an architect, and all forms of design fascinate me. 

Which is your greatest musical dream?
Many of my musical dreams have already come true: in HPO I have played all around the world, in the best halls, with the most fantastic directors and soloists. Otherwise, too, I have had the opportunity to do my life work surrounded by the leading professionals of the country. What more could I wish for! A continuous dream is of course always that the audience can leave a concert feeling excited and inspired, partly because of my input…

Which is your favourite travel destination, and why?
A favourite travel destination is close to impossible to name. I very much enjoy the both the huts out in the wilderness in Lapland and the hustle and bustle of London, the coast of Cornwall and hiking in the Austrian alps. So maybe Europe overall. 

In what kind of a place does your soul find rest?
My soul rests on the seaside shore while listening to the crushing of waves, and also while sitting at the cliffs of summery Saimaa. I never get tired of the landscapes in Koli. 

How do you feel your art is affecting society at large?
It is difficult to estimate the effect of my own artistic work on society, and maybe it should be someone else's task, I am biased! This matter should be viewed in a larger perspective, maybe on the orchestra level: we have FiBO, a coalition of eminent musicians, who work actively in the music field in Finland and abroad for people's enjoyment, and hopefully the world is a slightly better and tolerable place thanks to this. And hopefully we can help people understand history and the world we live in. 

Why do you enjoy playing music that is over 300 years old?
It is incredibly interesting to play old music on old instruments: the music sounds - or so we hope - in a similar way that the composers intended at that time, and that, I think, is a fascinating window into the past. Knowing the history is exceedingly important in this changing world. 

Choose your favourite among FiBO’s fall 2019 concerts, and motivate your choice.
Obviously I will have to choose the concert that I play myself, although FiBO presents lots of interesting things. The anniversary concert at the House of Nobility on 24 November will be a beautiful cross-section of FiBO's repertoire for a large ensemble from over the years. I also have to mention the concert in Helsinki Cathedral on 1 November with the wonderful Cantores Minores choir. 

Do you have a guilty pleasure?
If we talk about vices, what comes closest to that category right now is an obsessed interest in everything that has to do with the disaster called Brexit, and British domestic politics overall. It is just so entertaining and addictive, and at the same time tragic. 

If you had to run the Cooper test or bake for a party of 30 people, which would you choose?
Baking might turn out to be too overpowering a task, as there are so many diets and allergies to take into account nowadays, so I would have to choose the Cooper test, it is over in 12 minutes, anyway! At least twenty years have passed since my last test…

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