by Cecilia Damström

for accordion and string orchestra

Empty sheet

Cecilia Damström


Gehrmans Musikförlag


Permafrost is soil or underwater sediment that remains continuously frozen for two or more years. Permafrost underlies approximately 15% of the Northern Hemisphere or an area equivalent to 11% of the Earth’s total surface. As the global climate warms, it causes the previously frozen soil to thaw for the first time since the last ice age, reaching temperatures conducive to renewed decomposition. This process accelerates the permafrost carbon cycle. It is estimated that about 1500 gigatons of carbon is locked by permafrost that now becomes available when it thaws. That is about two and a half times of what humanity has emitted so far, and is one of the first major climate tipping points that human emissions could trigger.

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The accordion concerto Permafrost is divided into three movements named after the three biggest forms of permafrost thawing that are a danger to our climate. They are Retrogressive Thaw Slumps, a type of landslide that occur in the terrestrial Arctic’s permafrost region, when an ice-rich section thaws. They are the most active and dynamic feature of thermokarst—the collapse of the land surface as ground ice melts. Thermokarst Lakes, also called thaw lakes, tundra lakes, thaw depressions, or tundra ponds, refers to a body of freshwater, usually shallow, that is formed in a depression formed by thawing ice-rich permafrost. Some lakes have been discovered to be bubbling due to enormous amounts of methane leaking into the atmosphere, a potent greenhouse gas 25 times more efficient at trapping heat than carbon dioxide. Thermokarst lakes are estimated to emit 3.8 teragrams of methane each year, increasing methane emission by up to 63%. Methane Craters are a rather new phenomena (discovered in 2014) which indicates that when permafrost thaws, there can occur huge methane explosions, that leave enormous craters in the ground. The first methane crater was found in 2014 but so far around 20 methane craters have been found. The craters are symptomatic of climate warming.

Permafrost was commissioned by the Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra and the Winter Accordion Festival. It was composed for accordionist Sonja Vertainen and the Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra, who will premiere the piece conducted by Jan Söderblom on the 16th of February 2024. The piece includes video art by Irene Suosalo. The premiere will also be broadcast by the Finnish Radio.



acc solo, str


Works for Soloist(s) and Orchestra

Opus no.

op. 87


Representing Finland at the 70th International Rostrum of Composers 2024


Sonja Vertainen, accordion, Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra, Jan Söderblom, cond. Kokkola Winter Accordion Festival, February 16, 2024, Kokkola, Finland

Commisioned by / dedications

Commissioned by the Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra and the Kokkola Winter Accordion Festival. Composed for accordionist Sonja Vertainen and the Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra

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