The Bells Bow Down

The Bells Bow Down

Finland to Hong Kong via New York; an intimate journey
Ilari Kaila
Aizuri Quartet
Adrienne Kim
Catalog Number: 
#1 036
new classical
string quartet

New York, NY

Release Date: 
Mar 27, 2020
Liner Notes: 
1 CD
One Sheet: 

In an interview with the Hong Kong website InterludeIlari Kaila said “I hope to never write music that doesn’t feel personal.” The Finnish-born composer was talking, on that occasion, specifically about The Bells Bow Down (Kellojen kumarrus), a single-movement work for piano quintet composed in memory of his friend, pianist Hanna Sarvala. But as each of the works here shows, Kaila’s vision is intensely personal, as is his musical language and style. Much of his work is shaped by extra-musical stimulus: his grief for a lost friend; visual and aural images celebrating the natural world; a love of the (sometimes multilingual) punning title. He has a strong awareness of music from outside the Western classical canon; he creates striking harmonic effects from within the diatonic system, and he has a keen ear for subtle gradations of sound, especially those made possible by the string family. —Gordon Kerry, excerpted from the liner notes.

Ilari Kaila (b. 1978) is a Finnish-American composer who has written chamber, orchestral, vocal, and stage music. His music has been described as “haunting”, “intriguing”, “engaging … soulful” (The New York Times), “powerfully resonating” (Helsingin Sanomat), and “melodically euphoric” (Rondo Classic). Kaila received his PhD in Music Composition in 2011 from Stony Brook University, New York, having previously studied at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki. Between 2011 and 2014, he taught at Columbia University and as a teaching artist with the New York Philharmonic, before moving to Hong Kong where he currently works as Composer-in-Residence on the faculty of the School of Humanities at The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

Praised by The Washington Post for “captivating” performances that draw from its notable “meld of intellect, technique and emotions,” the Aizuri Quartet was awarded the Grand Prize and the CAG Management Prize at the 2018 M-Prize Chamber Arts Competition, along with top prizes at the 2017 Osaka International Chamber Music Competition in Japan, and the 2015 Wigmore Hall International String Quartet Competition in London. The quartet (Miho Saegusa and Ariana Kim, violins; Ayane Kozasa, viola; Karen Ouzounian, cello) joins forces with the versatile pianist Adrienne Kim, founding member of the New York Chamber Music Co-Op and the Alcott Piano Trio.

Produced by Grammy Award winner Silas Brown of Legacy Sound and Ilari Kaila.



"As a portrait of Kaila's work, The Bells Bow Down succeeds splendidly. It's even better, arguably, as a point of entry for the listener coming to the composer's work for the first time. As memorable as the material itself is, the performances given by Kim, Gleicher, and the Aizuri Quartet are also responsible for the strong impact the recording makes." [FULL ARTICLE]



"Kaila is a musical poet, a definite talent out there. This would I hope be as happy a discovery for you as it has been for me." [FULL ARTICLE]


“Kaila brings with him an exciting message of rebirth built upon classical foundations: harmony (as described above) and his uncommon ability to make the strings sing.” [FULL ARTICLE] - Ettore Garzia