Virtaa Club: Unity and Universality

Sat 25 May 2019, 14:00–16:45, Ateneum Hall

This multidisciplinary Virtaa Club concert brings together music, quantum physics and visual art.

The pianist Minna Pöllänen discusses number symbolism in Johann Sebastian Bach’s work, and plays preludes and fugues from The Well-Tempered Clavier (Das Wohltemperierte Klavier). The 2004 Nobel Prize winner in physics, Frank Wilczek, gives a lecture on complementarity. The pianist Irina Zahharenkova plays Bach’s Goldberg Variations, which are set alongside paintings by Bridget Allaire, inspired by the composition.

Tickets, €20 (normal admission) and €15 (students), are available from the online shop. The ticket includes admission to the exhibition during the same day.


W. A. Mozart: The Rondo in A minor, K. 511, Minna Pöllänen, piano

J. S. Bach: The Well-Tempered Clavier: Book I, Prelude and Fugue in D-major, F-sharp minor and C-sharp minor, and Book II, Prelude and Fugue in A major, Minna Pöllänen, piano
The pianist Minna Pöllänen discusses number symbolism in Johann Sebastian Bach’s work

Frank Wilczek: On Complementarity

Frank Wilczek and Minna Pöllänen discuss music.


Goldberg Variations BWV 988, Irina Zahharenkova, piano

Paintings by the artist Bridget Allaire, inspired by the Goldberg Variations, enter into a dialogue with the music.


Based in in Finland, Irina Zahharenkova is a versatile Estonian pianist who is enjoying a burgeoning international career. She has won several major piano competitions, such as the International Johann Sebastian Bach Competition (Leipzig, Germany 2006). She has also won awards as a harpsichordist and a fortepianist. Zahharenkova regularly performs at international festivals both as a soloist and as a chamber musician, and has played as a soloist, for example, with the Orchestra de la Suisse Romande, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and the BBC Orchestra. She has recorded, for example, Bach’s Goldberg Variations and partitas, and compositions by Scarlatti and Mozart.

Minna Pöllänen was the debutante of the year at the Jyväskylä Festival in 1969, and has since regularly performed both as a soloist and as a chamber musician, for example, at the Helsinki Festival, the Savonlinna Opera Festival and the Lahti Organ Festival. She has given recitals in New York in 1981 and 1982, and in Paris, for example, at the Bösendorfer Centre in 1984. In 1998, Minna Pöllänen put together the first multidisciplinary VIRTAA event at the Sibelius Academy Chamber Music Hall. The Virtaa Club, which is an offshoot of this event, has been held regularly since.

The Nobel Prize winner in physics, Frank Wilczek, is a real Renaissance man in whose award-winning books, The Lightness of Being, Longing for the Harmonies and The Beautiful Question, poetry, quantum physics and humour are intertwined to form an enlightening whole that can change our views of the world as we know it. He arguably understands more about the nature of light than anyone. He plays the piano, and music is close to his heart.


Photo: Bridget Allaire, Goldberg Variations: Variation 1, 2017