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for string orchestra, percussion, harp and celesta


Don’t tell mama was commissioned by Musiikkitalon Urut Soimaan ry and premiered by Avanti! chamber orchestra and conductor Aliisa Neige Barrière, in the 70th anniversary concert of composer Kaija Saariaho in the Helsinki Music Centre on October 15, 2022. The commission was kindly funded by Teosto.

composer's note

For me, there isn’t a party without dancing, and my favourite music to dance to is by iconic female artists. Kaija Saariaho isn’t often featured on the dance floors of clubs, but instead, iconic women from other genres, such as Madonna, Kylie Minogue, Britney Spears or Lady Gaga, will make the hips of party goers go wild. 

Don’t tell mama is the second part in a series of party works, where certain instruments visit the string orchestra’s festivities. In the first part, ETKOT, which was premiered by Avanti! in June 2022, the guests of honour were a flute and a bassoon. In Don’t tell mama, the invited guests are percussions, harp and celesta – and of course, Kaija! Material for Don’t tell mama was born by cutting up songs from pop icons and gluing them into collages. 

The name Don’t tell mama, perhaps familiar from elsewhere, dates back to the Cabaret-musical. In the musical, the protagonist Sally Bowles performs the song ”Don’t tell mama” at the shabby nest of hedonism, the Kit Kat Club. Written for Kaija Saariaho's 70th anniversary, Don't tell mama is a tribute to iconic women and forbidden enjoyment. 

Don't tell mama (2022): Product
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