“When you are isolated, instead you are exposed to something else,” he says.
He’s reading, listening to music, and planning a Lapland summer arts festival: this year in documentary form. And he’s bursting with ideas for when he arrives at the Australian National Academy of Music next year.
Jumppanen is a typical product of Finland’s extraordinary education system – which he says taught him lessons he still carries with him.
Since the 1960s the national music institute network, which reaches even the smallest towns, has given children who show interest in music (and a little talent) the chance to study with professionally trained teachers every week and hear performances from internationally famous musicians.
Jumppanen entered the institute aged seven – when, he admits, he enjoyed the concerts his parents took him to as much for the interval pastries as for the music.
“My theory teacher kept calling my parents, saying that I am a good student but I speak too much and I harass the other students’ learning environment, so if I could calm down that would be good,” he says.
At that institute one of the teenage students played for the group a Chopin Ballade.
“It was magnificent, and I thought that one day I would like to do this as well,” Jumppanen says.
“My teacher kept challenging us and me to play exercises and play more and more demanding pieces. But the key was that there was never a feeling that the system is educating future professional musicians. It was purely manipulating people to be motivated secretly without them realising this.
“So it took me quite a while to realise music might be a profession for me.”
He will carry this to ANAM, he says: “I don’t believe that you teach people by telling them that if you do this, two years from now you will be ‘there’.
“Today’s musicians are required not only to play their instruments particularly well, everybody has to play their instruments no problem, but personality and something to say as an artist is really required.
“We must create an environment where personality can grow.”
He won’t be imparting “European wisdom”, he says. He will encourage students to explore what’s around them. He wants to bring in Australian classical, rock, pop and jazz performers and artists of all genres to “share their musical and artistic minds with us”.
“We can respond to this [COVID-19] situation by seeing the beauty that is around us,” he says.
Musical performance will go through a tough time as the coronavirus lockdown gradually lifts, Jumppanen says – it’s a time to experiment with new ways to bring music to people.
“ANAM can also be a laboratory for this,” he says. “It is a fantastic opportunity to help music be effective, to help music touch people and be available to people, to keep educating the core of music making, the substance itself, which is always in motion but also doesn’t change from one century to another.”
Jumppanen will start part-time in 2021 and full-time in 2022. ANAM chair John Daley said Jumppanen would bring extensive international experience as a performer and music educator, and deepen ANAM’s growing connections with leading international music academies.
Nick Miller is Arts Editor of The Age.