Graduating masters degree student Simon Barrad will be heading to Finland this fall thanks to a Fulbright Arts Grant. Once there, he will study, teach and perform at the Metropolia University and Sibelius Academy in the city of Helsinki. The goal of his project is to use Finnish and American song as a bridge for cultural exchange.
“The basis of my project is organizing and performing in recitals of Finnish and American song with Finnish students who I meet,” says Barrad. “It is my intention to promote the performance of American music in Helsinki as well as learn Finnish music to share back in the United States when I return. The cultural exchange happens in the rehearsal process, the performance for the community, and the teaching of American culture through art song and poetry. I also plan to commission and premiere a couple of pieces written for me by American composers - one of whom lives in Helsinki.”
Barrad will work on his project at both the Sibelius Academy and the Metropolia University, both of which are located in city of Helsinki. As the state capital and cultural capital of Finland, Helsinki will serve as a perfect setting for Barrad’s work. “I wanted to be in the place where I would find the best singers and the most interesting work happening in the arts,” he explains.
Born and raised in Long Beach, California, Barrad’s upcoming journey to Finland will also provide him with an opportunity to retrace his genealogical roots. “I have never been to Finland but I do have distant cousins there with whom I have been in contact for several years,” he says.