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The Arts Intel Report

A Cultural Compass
For the World Traveler
A Cultural Compass
For the World Traveler

Pekka Kuusisto and Gabriel Kahane

May 9, 2024
1040 Mass MoCA Way, North Adams, MA 01247, USA

If only Pekka Kuusisto’s talent were easier to pigeonhole, maybe he’d be the marquee name he deserves to be. The grandson of an organist and composer, the son of an opera-composing jazz musician and a music teacher, Kuusisto first took fiddle in hand at the age of three. Not yet 20, he became the first Finn to win the International Jean Sibelius Violin Competition. It’s been a busy three decades for him since then. In the Brooklyn-based American singer-songwriter Gabriel Kahane (son of Jeffrey, a classical pianist of considerable note), Kuusisto has found another untethered spirit to play with. The centerpiece of their current North American tour is a collaboratively written song cycle exploring “the joys and griefs of life in the 21st century” (okay). For context, there’s a potpourri ranging from Bach to Nico Muhly by way of Scandinavian folk music (a Kuusisto specialty) and pages from the Kahane catalogue. —Matthew Gurewitsch