Composer in Residence
Organizers & contact information
Travels & accommodation
The playing of Elina Vähälä — was a continuous stream of virtuosity, hushed at certain times, heroically brave at others. The cadenza was stunning in its control of diverse elements and the danse macabre of the finale was a tour de force of marrying technique with a joy of life.”
-Classical Source, 2012
“The violin concerto was dazzling, with sublime playing from Elina Vähälä, whose strikingly beautiful musicianship was set against a shimmering background. With rises and falls, light and shade, it was the highlight of the evening.”
-Shropshire Star, 2012
Born in the US and raised in Finland, Elina Vähälä made her orchestral debut with Sinfonia Lahti at the age of twelve and was later chosen by Osmo Vänskä as the orchestra’s ‘Young Master Soloist’. Since then, her career continues to expand on the international stage, winning praise from audiences and musicians alike as ‘a fluent, stylish and gifted musician whose brilliant technique is matched by an abundant spirit, sensitivity and imagination’ (Chicago Tribune).
Elina Vähälä has appeared with orchestras including Helsinki Philharmonic, Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Sinfonia Lahti, Turku Philharmonic as well as Oregon Symphony Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra and Nashville Symphony Orchestra. She has worked with conductors Leonard Slatkin, Carlos Kalmar, Jukka-Pekka Saraste, Okko Kamu, Jakub Hrůša, Thierry Fischer, Jeffrey Tate, Sakari Oramo and Leif Sergerstam and toured throughout the UK, Finland, Germany, China, Korea and South America; in 2008 she was chosen to perform at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony which was televised to a worldwide audience.
Season highlights for 2017/18 include debuts with the Orchestre National de Lyon, Polish National Radio Orchestra, Singapore Symphony and Royal Stockholm Philharmonic and performances with the Finnish Radio Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, Lahti Symphony, Shenzhen and Quingdao Symphony Orchestras, Niederrheinische Symphony and the Seoul International Music Festival. Recent appearances include highly succesful debuts with RTÉ National Symphony, Yomiuri Nippon Symphony, Strasbourg Philharmonic and Gävle Symphony and performances with Helsinki Philharmonic, NorrlandsOperan Symphony, Detroit Symphony, Houston Symphony and Buffalo Philharmonic orchestras.
With a repertoire that ranges from baroque to contemporary, Elina Vähälä has given world premieres of Aulis Sallinen’s Chamber Concerto and Curtis-Smith’s Double Concerto, both written for her and pianist-conductor Ralf Gothóni. In addition, Vähälä gave the first Nordic performance of John Corigliano’s Violin Concerto ‘The Red Violin’ and commissioned a new violin concerto from composer Jaakko Kuusisto. Both the Corgiliano and Kuusisto concertos were recorded for BIS in 2013.
Educational activities play an important role in her commitment to music; In 2009 Elina Vähälä launched the Violin Academy; funded by the Finnish Cultural Foundation, the academy is a master class based educational project for selected, highly talented young Finnish violinists. She is a professor at the University of Music in Karlsruhe, Germany.
Vähälä’s instrument is made by Giovanni Battista Guadagnini in 1780.
© April 2018
Dutch double bassist Niek de Groot is one of today’s leading soloists. Originally a trumpet-player he started playing the double-bass at 18. Within an unusually short time he became principal bass with several European ensembles, including a 10-year tenure as principal Solo-Bass with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.
After his formal studies he further developed his skills at the Banff Centre for the Arts, Canada. Niek’s playing has benefited a great deal also from attending masterclasses with eminent cellists Frans Helmerson, Lluìs Claret, Laurence Lesser and in collaborations with Leonard Bernstein, György Sebök and Mstislav Rostropovich.
Since 2006 Niek de Groot has dedicated himself entirely to chamber music and solo performances. He performs regularly as a soloist and chamber musician at the best known concerthalls and music festivals. His repertoire includes a great deal of contemporary music and he has worked closely with composers such as Kurtág, Stockhausen, Saariaho, Vasks and Gubaidulina.
A well received solo CD for NIMBUS was released in 2015. The first volume of the Hoffmeister solo-quartets and Rossini sonatas for BIS-records came out in 2017. The second volume will arrive later in 2018. A new highly acclaimed recording with contemporary violin/bass Duos for AUDITE is on the market since February 2018.
Upcoming projects include the recording of Kurtág’s chambermusic for AUDITE and the world-premiere of several new Double Bass concertos.
Since 1996 Niek is Senior Professor for Double Bass at the Folkwang University of Arts, Essen, being the only french Bow playing bassist ever to teach in such a position in Germany. He also taught at institutions in Norway, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain and regularly gives master classes worldwide. Many of his former and current students play in Europe’s foremost orchestras and ensembles.
Through his career, Niek de Groot has played on rare double basses by Cerutti, Bajoni and Amati. Since 2016 he got the lifelong privilege to play the world famous Domenico Montagnana double bass from 1747. His bows are especially made for him by Jochen Schmidt. His baroque and classical bows are by Gerhard Landwehr.
…. “Janne Thomsen was one of the evening’s big stars. Pure pleasure of playing, perfect technique and a certain radiance characterized her playing and stage presence“
Süddeutsche Zeitung, Munich.
The Danish flutist Janne Thomsen has established itself worldwide as a highly successful and sought-after soloist. She began her musical studies as a 4 year old and was later named the “Young Musician of the Year” in Denmark. After her studies at the Royal Academy of Music in London and the soloist class at the Conservatoire de Musique de Paris, she continued to win in prominent flute competitions in Prague, Paris, Bayreuth, Rome, Vienna, Paris and Boston. Janne Thomsen been awarded grants by Queen Margrethe II and Prince Henrik Fund, as well as Augustinus, Holstebro Music Prize and Gade Prize. In 2016 she was awarded the title of ARAM, “Associate of the Royal Academy of Music”, an honor awarded to musicians who have made a special effort in the world of music.
Janne Thomsen has appeared as a soloist with orchestras and ensembles including the English Chamber Orchestra, Czech Philharmonic, Kremerata Baltica, Camerata Salzburg, Vienna Chamber Orchestra and the Moscow Soloists. She performs with renowned soloists such as Maxim Vengerov, Gidon Kremer, Janine Jansen, Pierre Laurent Aimard, Yuri Bashmet, Joshua Bell, Jana Bouskova, Steven Isserlis and Mischa Maisky. She has worked closely with leading composers such as Sofia Gubaidulina, Hans Werner Henze, Wolfgang Rihm, Giya Kancheli, Peteris Vasks and Michael Berkeley.
From 2004-2007 Janne Thomsen lectured at the Mozarteum Conservatory in Salzburg, and from 2008-2010 at the Hochschule für Musik in Luzern and she now resides in Munich.
She is the founder and artistic director of “Classic Days” Holstebro International Music Festival in her hometown, a festival that has grown significantly and has been praised by the press ever since its founding in 2005, for which she in 2011 was awarded Holstebro Municipality’s Cultural Award and Lions award.
Christoffer Sundqvist (b. 1978,) has been principal clarinettist in the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra since 2005, makes regular solo appearances with orchestras and in chamber repertoire and teaches the clarinet at the Sibelius Academy and in master classes. A versatile musician, he has a repertoire ranging from the standard works to new commissions.
In recent years Christoffer has been the soloist with almost all the professional Finnish orchestras. Topping the list of solo engagements with orchestras abroad have been the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Gothenburg Symphony, the Basel Symphony, the Estonian National Symphony, the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonic and the Norrköping Symphony Orchestra. Conductors with whom he has collaborated include Jukka-Pekka Saraste, John Storgårds, Sakari Oramo, Okko Kamu, Hannu Lintu, Anna-Maria Helsing and Eugene Zigane. He is also a regular visitor at European music festivals.
Also an active chamber musician, Christoffer was one of the founders of the Arctic Hysteria wind quintet in 1997. Another line-up important to him is the Plus Ensemble. He has played with many other chamber ensembles, given recitals in Finland and abroad and premiered works by Finnish composers Pehr-Henrik Nordgren, Atso Almila, Magnus Lindberg and others.
In order to generate new clarinet repertoire, Christoffer works in close partnership with composers. His collaboration with Sebastian Fagerlund has resulted in a Clarinet Concerto that has won widespread international acclaim, and he has also premiered the works Fuel (2010) and Sonata (2011).
Christoffer has been Artistic Director of the Jakobstad Sinfonietta and is, together with composer Sebastian Fagerlund, Artistic Director of the Rusk Chamber Music Festival founded by them in Pietarsaari/Jakobstad in 2013. The idea of this festival held at the end of November is to bring together top musicians of international renown. In the space of a few days, sometimes surprising events bring people and the arts together in joint experiences.
The Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra (OCO), founded by the Orchestra’s Honorary Conductor Juha Kangas in 1972, has been a professional orchestra since 1989. The homogeneous sound and dynamic impact of the Orchestra are a result of years of playing together. Since autumn 2013, Sakari Oramo serves as the Artistic Director of the Orchestra.
The Orchestra’s repertoire covers periods in the history from the Baroque to the present day. The OCO has made an outstanding contribution to the promotion of contemporary Finnish music. Many Finnish composers have written and dedicated works to the Orchestra. It has also close contacts with composers in Scandinavia and the Baltic countries and has premiered more than 150 works to date.
The OCO performs regularly with top international soloists and has released more than 60 recordings. Its foreign tours have taken it to several European countries, Japan and New York. In summer 2017, the orchestra performed at the famous Mozartfest in Würzburg, Germany.
The Orchestra was awarded the Nordic Council Music Prize In 1993. In 1995, the OCO and its conductor Juha Kangas were awarded the Creation (Luomus) Prize by the Finnish Composers’ International Copyright Society (Teosto) and in 1998 the Madetoja Prize by the Society of Finnish Composers and the Record of the Year Prize by the Finnish Broadcasting Company. In 2004, the Orchestra’s and Tampere Philharmonia’s CD with Vasks’ music was awarded the international Cannes Classical prize The Record of the Year. OCO’s and Sakari Oramo’s recording of C.Ph.E. Bach’s Symphonies 1-6 was awarded an Emma in the category “Best classical album 2014”. The same record was also nominated in the BBC Music Awards. Also, the record “Favourite English Strings” by OCO and Oramo, was nominated for Emma prize in the category Best classical album 2016.