Ilari Kaila is a Finnish-born composer and pianist based in New York City, currently on a two-year appointment as Composer-in-Residence/Visiting Scholar at the HKUST in Hong Kong. His music has been described as "haunting" (Steve Smith, The New York Times), "intriguing" (Brian Seibert, The New York Times), "engaging ... soulful" (Vivien Schweitzer, The New York Times), "lyrical" (Heather Leviston, Classic Melbourne), and "powerfully resonating" (Hannu-Ilari Lampila, Helsingin Sanomat). Most recently, Kaila's works have been presented at the 2015 Chelsea Music Festival in New York City and Taipei as the festival's Composer-in-Residence; at the Metropolis Festival in Australia by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra; on the Avanti! Chamber Orchestra's tour of Japan; in Finland by the Joensuu Symphony Orchestra; in Hong Kong as one of six young Composer Fellows featured in the "Intimacy of Creativity 2014" program; at the Banff Centre Summer Arts Festival in Canada; at the MATA Festival in New York City; and the New York International Fringe Festival; among others.
Kaila has worked with artists and ensembles including Olli Mustonen, the Escher String Quartet, the Tanglewood New Fromm Players, the Avanti! Chamber Orchestra, Bright Sheng, the Uusinta Chamber Ensemble, the Albany Symphony Orchestra, David Alan Miller, the Kuopio Symphony Orchestra, Jurjen Hempel, Atso Almila, the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra's chamber ensembles, Alan Kay, and the Stony Brook Symphony Orchestra. He has been awarded in the Mellon Foundation/ASO "Composer to Center Stage" competition, in the IC2014 World Premiere Concert Audience Vote in Hong Kong, and in the Composer Competition of the 9th International Piano Festival in Espoo. He has received the American-Scandinavian Foundation Fellowship; the Thayer Fellowship and Patricia Kerr Ross Award from the State University of New York; and the Cité Internationale des Arts residency in Paris.
Kaila received his PhD in Music Composition from Stony Brook University in 2011, having previously studied at the Sibelius Academy in his native Finland. He has participated in master classes with Magnus Lindberg and Esa-Pekka Salonen, and studied Carnatic music on several trips to India between 2002 and 2011. As a pianist, Kaila has performed in premieres of his own and other young composers' works, and in various improvisation and stage projects.
In addition to teaching harmony, counterpoint and musicianship at Columbia University, he has worked for the New York Philharmonic as a teaching artist in composition, both in New York and within an ongoing collaborative project with partners in Helsinki, including the Sibelius Academy, the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Helsinki Philharmonic, and the National Opera. At Stony Brook University, he has taught graduate courses in advanced counterpoint to composers and post-tonal music analysis.
Alongside music, Kaila works as a freelance writer and journalist. He has produced documentaries and docudramas for the Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE Finland) and published articles and investigative pieces, mostly on politics and culture, in various newspapers and periodicals.