Helsinki Chamber Choir Performs U.S. Debut of 'State of the Union'

Helsinki Chamber Choir
Helsinki Chamber Choir

The Helinski Chamber Choir will visit Northern Michigan University for two performances of “State of the Union,” a bold new opera addressing the political and environmental issues of our time. The opera was created by 2015 Rabbit Island artists-in-residence Eugene Birman, a Juilliard-trained composer, and Scott Diel, an American librettist.

The concerts will also feature pieces by some of Finland’s greatest composers. They are scheduled at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 29, and Friday, Sept. 30.

“State of the Union” is a 40-minute opera written for 12 solo singers that engages with issues of environmental sustainability, economic inequality, satire and solutions. It “promises a groundbreaking approach to classical music, setting a vitally relevant message to an innovative, highly original vocal narrative.” This is the fourth collaboration of Birman and Diel. The duo’s past projects have garnered attention from CNN, BBC World TV, NPR and other world media outlets.

The Helsinki Chamber Choir was founded in 1962 and remains Finland’s only professional chamber choir. It regularly commissions new works and its programs feature the most demanding contemporary repertoire alongside standard chamber choir repertoire. The Helsinki Chamber Choir holds its own concert series and performs at national and international festivals. In addition to “State of the Union,” the group will perform pieces by Finnish composers including Jean Sibelius, Toivo Kuula, Erik Bergman and Einojuhani Rautavaara.

The NMU DeVos Art Museum, Beaumier U.P. Heritage Center and music department are sponsoring the concerts in conjunction with the Rabbit Island Foundation. THe event also received private support through the Siril Endowment for the Music Arts. Tickets are $16 in advance and $18 at the door for students and seniors 60 years and older. General public pricing is $18 in advance and $20 at the door. Tickets can be purchased by visiting, calling 227-1032 or visiting any NMU EZ ticket outlet.

Prepared By
Cassidy Hinshaw
Student Writer