is Merced College's New Fulbright Exchange Teacher and New Concert Band
Rauno Tikkanen is
a long way from home. And while Merced may not look much like his native
Finland, Tikkanen is settling into life as a Merced College professor
“I’m here to meet new friends, have new ideas, and to enjoy
a new life in this country,” Tikkanen said. “I’m also
excited about sharing my musical experience with this community.”
The 46-year-old clarinetist, saxophonist, and conductor is participating
in the College’s first Fulbright Teacher Exchange program, trading
teaching assignments this year with music professor Mark Doiel, who has
taken Tikkanen’s place at the Kuopio Academy of Music and Dance
in the city of Kuopio in eastern Finland. The Kuopio Academy is one of
Finland’s most prestigious teaching institutions and is responsible
for training the country’s music and dance teachers.
Tikkanen has performed all across Europe and is currently the director
of Kuopio Academy of Music and Dance. He was recognized as the Kuopio
Jazz Musician of the Year in 1991 and has plans to perform in Estonia
in the premier performance of a jazz opera written by Finnish composer
Heikki Sarmanto. Sarmanto has composed for American jazz saxophonist Sonny
Tikkanen began studying music at the age of 6 and focused on the clarinet
in his early teens. He has been a principal solo artist for the past 14
years. Finland, he notes, has a rich musical heritage and music education
is stressed in the country’s schools. In fact, it’s common
for each primary grade to have its own concert band.
While American community college students take music for a variety of
reasons, Tikkanen says he’s discovered that his students are willing
to learn and have been very cordial to him.
As the conductor of the Merced College Concert Band, Tikkanen has been
in rehearsal for the band’s first concert on October 19. Selections
will range from George Gershwin and Cole Porter to the music of the big
band era. This concert will also feature Merced College instructor John
Albano on the guitar. In return, Tikkanen will be playing with John Albano
and his Merced College Jazz Orchestra on November 30.
And what were his musical inspirations growing up in Finland? “I
listened to everything: Cat Stevens, Bad Company, Average White Band,
Tower of Power. I love all kinds of music.”
Tikkanen is living in the Doiel residence in Atwater with his wife, singer
Kirsi, their two teenage sons and five-year-old daughter.