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Interview with Principal Cello Timo-Veikko Valve

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To celebrate the release of his latest HomeCast, featuring the music of Colombi and Marais, we chatted with Principal Cello Timo-Veikko Valve about auditioning for the ACO, life in lockdown, and how he got the nickname ‘Tipi’.

Tipi’s HomeCast premieres on Thursday 2 September, 8pm AEST here.

Where did the nickname ‘Tipi’ come from?

I haven’t really revealed this, but ‘Tipi’ is the Finnish name for Tweety Bird from Looney Toons. My older brother and sister must have seen the TV show and before I was even born, when my mum was pregnant with me, they started calling me Tipi and the name stuck. So, I was called ‘Tipi’ before Timo-Veikko!

Can you tell us about the music you’re performing in this HomeCast?

Both pieces are extremely bright, optimistic, and sunny. I wanted to play music that reflects optimism; something I really enjoyed playing but also feels positive, uplifting and calm.

The Colombi is a favourite little piece that I quite often play in concerts. There’s some evidence that it’s perhaps the first ever piece written for solo cello: it dates about 100 years before the Bach cello suites and is from a period when the cello as an instrument started to have its own voice and was not only seen as an accompaniment instrument.

The Marais was written for (what can be called) the predecessor of the cello, the viola da gamba, and when I heard it for the first time, I thought it would work well on the cello as well. Now that I had some time, I researched a bit and saw that a handful of people had made their own versions of it for the cello, so I decided to give it a go myself. I wanted to include a piece that was new for me as well.

Why did you decide to audition for the ACO?

I was finishing my studies in Sweden and was thinking of moving back to Finland. Up until that point my career had mainly involved performing as a chamber musician and a soloist, however I was starting to contemplate doing my first professional audition for an orchestra. That turned out to be good timing as [ACO Principal Violin] Satu sent me an email. We didn’t know each other, we just knew of each other, but she reached out and said that the ACO Principal Cello was leaving, and I should consider auditioning for the job. I thought, well, if I do an audition for an Australian orchestra and I fail miserably, no one will ever know! So, I took that challenge on, and here we are about 15 years later!

My personality as a musician is a chamber musician, so joining the ACO felt very natural. I value the way the Orchestra reinvents itself over and over; everything that goes under the umbrella of the ACO is always in constant motion. We’re always rethinking and reinvigorating what we’ve done and where we’re going.

Your partner, violinist Liisa Pallandi, is also a member of the ACO. How do you find living and working together?

It definitely has its benefits. In normal times we have very demanding schedules and travelling patterns, so it works out well that we share that – it makes it easier and one of us isn’t left at home. And all those places we tour overseas, we get to visit together.

What have you been reading/watching/cooking in lockdown?

We have been enjoying the calmer pace of home life, with much more cooking rather than constantly eating out, or getting food on the road, or room service, that comes with touring life. Also, we’ve taken up playing tennis recently. In normal times when we’re constantly away it can be kind of hard to keep an activity like that going, so now there is opportunity to do that. Twice a week we go and play tennis.

So really, we’ve been staying occupied with pretty normal things. But I guess that’s the key in this situation. It’s allowed us to be a bit more normal for a minute rather than constantly on the road; to have a little pause and reinvigorate artistically.



ACO HomeCasts are presented by Telstra.

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