Council: Pekka KuusistoViolin, Electric Violin, Loops, Piano, Vocals Gabriel KahanePiano, Electric Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals

Pekka Kuusisto and Gabriel Kahane

Friday, May 3, 2024 |  7:30pm

Herbst TheatreVenue Information


About This Performance

This thrilling concert brings together two close friends, Pekka Kuusisto and Gabriel Kahane, working together under the moniker Council, for a wide-ranging and centuries-spanning musical evening. At its center is the world premiere of a collaboratively written song cycle exploring the joys and griefs of life in the 21st century, around which Kuusisto and Kahane have built an eclectic program ranging from Bach and Nico Muhly to Scandinavian folk music and songs from Kahane’s catalog. Forging connections between past and present, these two singular artists offer a ravishingly beautiful path toward the bright future of chamber music.

Artist Information

Performer Biographies

Violinist, conductor, and composer Pekka Kuusisto is renowned for his artistic freedom and fresh approach to repertoire. Kuusisto is Artistic Director of the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra and Principal Guest Conductor & Artistic Co-Director: Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra from the 2023–24 season. He is also Artistic Partner with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, a Collaborative Partner of the San Francisco Symphony, and Artistic Best Friend of Die Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen.

In the 2022–23 season Kuusisto debuted with Berliner Philharmoniker and will perform with the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra. He will return to orchestras such as The Cleveland Orchestra, San Francisco, and Cincinnati symphony orchestras, Gürzenich-Orchester Köln, and Mahler Chamber Orchestra. Kuusisto makes his debuts as a conductor with the Philharmonia, Gothenburg, and City of Birmingham symphony orchestras. He is also Sinfonieorchester Basel’s Artist-in-Residence with whom he appears as conductor, soloist, and recitalist.

As a conductor, recent highlights include appearances with Helsinki Philharmonic, Saint Paul Chamber, and European Union Youth orchestras, the Concertgebouworkest, and Die Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, hr-Sinfonieorchester Frankfurt, Orchestre de chambre de Paris and Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

In the 2021–22 season Kuusisto performed the world premiere of Bryce Dessner’s Violin Concerto with HR Sinfonieorchester, and later with the Philharmonia, San Francisco Symphony, and Orchestre de Paris. He performed the world premiere of Thomas Adès’ Märchentänze for violin and orchestra with the Finnish Radio Symphony orchestra and later with Barcelona, Gothenburg, and Danish Radio symphony orchestras. He was also the Philharmonia Orchestra’s Featured Artist. In recent seasons Kuusisto premiered new works by Sauli Zinovjev, Daníel Bjarnason, Anders Hillborg, Philip Venables and Andrea Tarrodi.

Kuusisto is an enthusiastic advocate of contemporary music and a gifted improviser and regularly engages with people across the artistic spectrum. Uninhibited by conventional genre boundaries and noted for his innovative programming, recent projects have included collaborations with Hauschka and Kosminen, Dutch neurologist Erik Scherder, pioneer of electronic music Brian Crabtree, eminent jazz-trumpeter Arve Henriksen, juggler Jay Gilligan, accordionist Dermot Dunne and folk artist Sam Amidon.

In 2022, Kuusisto released his first album as conductor, partnering with Vilde Frang and Die Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen presenting the Stravinsky and Beethoven Concerti for Warner, and as soloist performing the world premiere recording of Ades’ Märchentänze for violin and orchestra with Nicholas Collon and Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra for Ondine. With Pentatone, Kuusisto and the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra presented the album First Light in 2021 featuring the world premiere recording of Nico Muhly’s violin concerto, Shrink. Other recent releases include Ades’ Violin Concerto Concentric Paths recorded with Aurora and Nicolas Collon for Deutsche Grammophon, Hillborg’s Bach Materia and Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos Nos. 3 and 4 with the Swedish Chamber Orchestra and Thomas Dausgaard for BIS and Daniel Bjarnason’s Violin Concerto with Iceland Symphony Orchestra with the composer conducting for Sono Luminus.

Pekka Kuusisto plays the Antonio Stradivari Golden Period c.1709 ‘Scotta’ violin, generously loaned by a patron through Tarisio.

Gabriel Kahane is a musician and storyteller whose work increasingly exists at the intersection of art and social practice. Hailed as “one of the finest songwriters of the day” by The New Yorker, he is known to haunt basement rock clubs and august concert halls alike, where you’ll likely find him in the green room, double-fisting coffee, and a book.

He has released four albums as a singer-songwriter, including, most recently, the intimate Book of Travelers (Nonesuch Records), which Rolling Stone called “a stunning portrait of a singular moment in America.” As a composer, he has been commissioned by many of America’s leading arts institutions, including the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Carnegie Hall, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, and the Public Theater, which in 2012 presented his musical February House.

In 2019, Kahane was named the inaugural Creative Chair for the Oregon Symphony, following the premiere in Portland of his oratorio emergency shelter intake form, a work that explores inequality in America through the lens of housing issues. The piece was released as an album in March of 2020, and is scheduled for performance by half a dozen other American orchestras in the coming years.

Kahane’s discography also includes 2014’s The Ambassador, which received an acclaimed staging at BAM, directed by Tony and Olivier Award-winner John Tiffany; an album of chamber music, The Fiction Issue, with the string quartet Brooklyn Rider and vocalist/composer Shara Nova; a recording with The Knights of his orchestral song cycle Crane Palimpsest; as well as the original cast album for February House.

A frequent collaborator across a range of musical communities, Gabriel has worked with an array of artists including Paul Simon, Sufjan Stevens, Andrew Bird, Phoebe Bridgers, Caroline Shaw, and Chris Thile. After nearly two decades in Brooklyn, Kahane relocated with his family to Portland, Oregon, in March of 2020. Their freakishly self-possessed cat, Roscoe Greebletron Jones III, when not under investigation for securities fraud, continues his fruitless attempts to monetize his Instagram account.

Artist Video

Pekka Kuusisto Plays Thin Air by Calliope Tsoupaki at the Festivals for Compassion