The Flying Finn in Frome

Teppo Hauta-aho, a popular guest in Wells on a number of occasions, was in the West Country from 12-16 May for Teppo-Fest 2016, a series of concerts and workshops organised by David Heyes to celebrate his 75th birthday, albeit two weeks early. The Finnish bassist-composer is the most prolific double bass composer in the history of the instrument and the weekend featured 19 of his works alongside solo and ensemble music from around the world. Teppo’s music is performed by professionals and amateurs alike and several of his jazzy pizzicato works are also included by various examination boards. His music encompasses the great variety of his performing career including classical, jazz and improvisation in music which appeals to performers and audiences alike. His four-movement Mini-Bass Symphony for 10 basses received its UK premiere, here performed by 15 bassists, and demonstrated his great skill and invention when writing for massed basses creating an amazing wealth of textures and colours which many composers would have been unable to create.

As ever, the Wells bassists took part with great enthusiasm and aplomb and were integral to the success of the weekend. Alex Heather performed as a soloist in the concert on Saturday 14 May at the Silk Mill in Frome (Somerset), also performing the opening two trios of the concert alongside David Heyes and Ben Groenevelt, and played with a maturity belying his years.

The workshop and concerts at Wells & Mendip Museum (Wells, Somerset) on Sunday 15 May featured Laura De Havilland Llewellyn, Jan Cowell and Bridget Yee as soloists and ensemble players, each contributing enormously to the success of the day. Bassists from across the South-west took part in the workshop and the concerts included many works by leading bassist-composers alongside a beautiful performance of Be Still My Soul (Finlandia) by Finnish composer Jean Sibelius which added a touch of class and elegance to the proceedings.

Over 100 works for double bass were performed during the weekend, with a number of UK and world premieres, encompassing everything that is great about the double bass and bringing together bassists of all ages and abilities. Miles Wragg, a ten year-old bassist and member of Wells Music College, was the youngest player to take part and Teppo’s warmth, generosity and great sense of fun helped to make the young bassists performance something that he will probably remember for ever.

Teppo Hauta-aho is an amazing ambassador for the double bass and his music is loved and performed by many bassists across the world. He is always a welcome guest in the South-west and plans are already being made for Teppo-Fest 2021, to celebrate his 80th birthday, but this time in Helsinki. Hope to see you all there…