Sermila’s most important influence in his early period of the early 1970s was Edgard Varèse, as can be seen in the title of Homage to EV (1971) for seven brass instruments and two percussionists. This period also produced Monody (1970) for horn and percussion and Crisis (1972) for clarinet quintet. Sermila’s music is characterized by tone colour and textures often drawing on aleatoric counterpoint. Contrasts of textures and colours are even indicated in the title of, for instance, V?rej? ja vastakohtaisuuksia (Colours & Contrasts, 1976) for flute, violin and piano.
Sermil? has often expressed his interest in the problem of musical time. In the 1970s, this manifested itself as static or rhythmically free situations aiming to arrest the sense of time. From the 1980s onwards, Sermil? has turned to pulsating Minimalist rhythms (e.g. in Myyttinen mies (Mythical man, 1982) for percussion quintet). However, the Minimalist (and diatonic) texture is only one dimension of expression in Sermil?’s later works; it may be juxtaposed with a rhythmically free chromatic texture. This kind of alteration is featured for instance in Ego I (1988) for violin, accordion and double bass. This period also produced A Prague Thoroughfare (1983) for electric guitar and string quartet, Hiiet hirve? rakenti (Ogres built an elk, 1984) for two trombones, two percussionists and tape, Contours (1986) for flute, clarinet, violin and cello, Movimenti e ritornelli (1986/1995) for string quartet, and several works entitled Danza written for a variety of duos in the 1990s.
In Sermila’s more recent output, his stylistic range seems to have continued to expand. We might describe as chamber music those works where a single performer plays against a tape background; in Sermila’s catalogue, at least, they are categorized as chamber music works rather than solo works. These include But I Didn’t Know It Was Spring for trumpet and tape (1995) and Il mondo assurdo del Signor B. for viola and tape (1997).
—bio thanks to the Finnish Music Information Centre (FIMIC)