is one of the cutting-edge accordion virtuosi and composers of our time. Traditionally educated at the Helsinki Music Conservatory, he realized shortly thereafter that he had to invent new ways of approaching his instrument by electronic means. For his first solo-concert, Pohjonen tried to reveal the enormous sound spectra of his instrument that had seemed hidden behind fixed structures and folk music. His compositions are the result of a multi-layered process of improvising jam-sessions in research of the music and its melodies, as well as the creation of sampling-libraries, which form the basis for his musical themes.
After having heard a record of Pohjonen’s during their concert tour in Finland, Kronos Quartet
decided to get in touch with him. It was a happy coincidence that Kimmo had already made plans to compose a string quartet before they ever met. Kimmo’s ideas immediately appealed to the Kronos Quartet, who is well known for breaking new musical grounds.
Seeds for the project were planted in 2002 when Kronos' musical director David Harrington heard Pohjonen and Kluster (the name of Kimmo’s partnership with sampling guru Samuli Kosminen) recordings and approached Pohjonen with the idea of a possible collaboration. Meetings in Latvia between the two parties were productive and led to first rehearsals at the Kronos’ home base in San Francisco in the spring of 2003. The second set of rehearsals took place in Helsinki in February 2004. The world premiere of the collaboration occurred in Helsinki on September 4th and 5th at the prestigious Helsinki Festival, with an additional concert in Moscow at the MDM Youth Palace on September 7th
The Kronos / Kluster project is a mutually beneficial sonic/visual adventure with this goal: to create unique and never-before-heard-of sounds from accordion and strings, using sounds originating solely from accordion and strings plus voice. The programme features all new material composed by Kimmo Pohjonen and Samuli Kosminen of Kluster. Music is arranged by Kluster for accordion, sampler and electronic percussion, string quartet, surround sound and effects. In addition to the Pohjonen accordion and voice sounds that Kosminen samples in "normal" Kluster repertoire and reproduces via his electronic drum pads, the Kronos string sounds are sampled, processed, and looped in with the Kluster mix and the natural Kronos strings to achieve something completely new.
Surround sound and additional effects by sound designer Heikki Iso-Ahola are also essential elements of the composition, arrangements and performance, as he creates a full dimensional sound world in the concert hall. Specially designed light choreographies by Mikki Kunttu and live video mix by Antti Kuivalainen provide the final touch for a complete visual experience.
The end result, an 80 minute work entitled "Uniko", commissioned by Kronos Quartet and composed by Pohjonen and Kosminen, is something totally innovative, expanding and elevating the musical, sonic and visual aspects of both artists and forming an entirely new and exciting kind of concert event.
The Making-Of is a short documentary giving an insight into the collaboration between Kimmo Pohjonen, who has taken the accordion to new dimensions, his Kluster-partner Samuli Kosminen, Finland’s sampling guru, and the world’s most revolutionary string quartet – the Kronos quartet; A collaboration which resulted in two concerts taking place at the Helsinki Festival in September 2004. The documentary contains interviews with Kimmo Pohjonen and Samuli Kosminen, who speak about the development of the piece "Uniko" and about their fruitful relationship with the Kronos Quartet. David Harrington, John Sherba, Hank Dutt and Jennifer Culp –the members of the Kronos Quartet - describe their approach to exploring new collaborators and music, and allow the audience to look into the production development. The interview sections are interwoven with scenes of the set-up work for the concert, with scenes of the concert itself and of the rehearsals, which took place in February 2004.