Marja Ahti

Ida Noyes Hall

1212 East 59th Street
Chicago, Illinois 60637

Marja Ahti has been a stalwart of the Finnish experimental music scene for more than a decade, working primarily with field recordings, synthesizers, electronic feedback, and digital processing.

In her Chicago debut, she premieres Touch This Fragrant Surface of Earth for four-channel tape, live electronics, and amplifed objects. The new work is an exploration of sound as a primeval force, combining bowed percussion and organ with recordings of nature and everyday spaces.

“I almost never start out with another piece as an inspiration,” she explains, “but with this one, there is a really beautiful piece by Michael Pisaro called Continuum Unbound that features field recordings and bowed percussion… I wanted to try it.”

Ahti’s practice is rooted in an abiding fascination with the “simple strangeness” of human experiences with sound, and human consciousness more broadly—the notion that vibrations sensed by eardrums can be experienced as something deeply affecting, even profound, under the right conditions. The resulting compositions create vivid electroacoustic environments, rich in detail, characterized by slowly warping harmonies and mutating textures.

Marja Ahti (b.1981, Luleå, Sweden) is a Swedish-Finnish composer and sound artist based in Turku, Finland. She has presented her music in many different contexts in Europe, Japan, and the United States. Alongside her solo work, she collaborates with composer and cellist Judith Hamann, sound artist Niko-Matti Ahti, and visual artist Mikko Kuorinki.

Presented in partnership with the Renaissance Society; support provided by the American-Scandinavian Foundation

Artist Talk: Marja Ahti discusses her compositional practice as a way of exploring the world, tracing her philosophy of listening and connection through recent solo and collaborative works, including Touch This Fragrant Surface of Earth, which she premieres Saturday, as well as Tender Membranes (2023), A Coincidence is Perfect, Intimate Attunement, with Judith Hamann (2022) and Still Lives (2021). Marja reviews the interplay of chance and intent in her music, the poetry of ordinary sounds, and her use of electronic and instrumental timbres and tunings. Cobb Hall, 5811 S. Ellis Ave., Room 425. Sunday, October 22, 2 p.m.