Elina Vähälä, violin

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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

Anna-Liisa Bezrodny, violin

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Anna-Liisa Bezrodny was born into a distinguished family of musicians in Moscow, currently in great demand as a soloist, recitalist and chamber musician all over the world, receiving praising critics about her performances around the globe.

Already at the age of two she began her violin studies with her parents, and at the age of nine she began her studies at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, Finland, in the class of her parents, Prof. Igor Bezrodny and Prof. Mari Tampere-Bezrodny. Her later years took her to London, resulting in winning the most prestigious award in Guildhall School of Music and Drama, the Gold Medal in 2006, previously won by masters such as Bryn Terfel and Jaqueline du Pre.

Over the years Anna-Liisa has appreared as soloist with orchestras in most prestigious concert venues in the world, such as Royal Festival Hall, Barbican Hall, Wigmore Hall, Konzerthaus Berlin, Cologne Philharmonie, Cadogan Hall, Finlandia Hall, Estonia Hall, St. Petersburg Philharmonic Hall, Moscow Conservatoire Great Hall as well as Small Hall and Rachmaninov Hall, and countless others. Anna-Liisa has worked with outstanding maestros such as Leif Segerstam, Nikolay Alekseyev, Eri Klas, Paavo Järvi, Olari Elts, Sian Edwards, Sascha Goetzel, Juha Kangas, Mihkel Kutson, Robin O’Neil, Arvo Volmer, Paul Magi, and many others.

She plays extensively with the renowned pianist Ivari Ilja (pianist to Dmitry Hvorostovsky), with whom she recorded a debut CD on ALBA RECORDS, gaining an extremely praising response from all over the world.

Anna-Liisa is a receipient of countless awards and prizes, for example winner of special prize of the Rotary Club, winner of the Ian Fleming Charitable Award of the Musicians Benevolent Fund (London), winner of the Martin Musical Scholarship Award, (London), Hattori Foundation and Myra Hess Trust prizes, Ricci Foundation Winner 2009, Young Artist of the Making Music Foundation 2009, Heifetz International Violin Competition, Brahms International Competition etc. In 2005 Anna-Liisa Bezrodny was awarded the PROMIS Award for talented young musicians from the London Symphony Orchestra, and in the same year received an honorary prize from the Pro Musica Foundation in Finland.

Most recently Anna-Liisa was awarded an honorary Musician of the Year Award from the Estonian Cultural Foundation, for her internationally prosperous and productive concert-activity.

Anna-Liisa’s playing has been heard on several occasions on Finnish and Estonian National TV´s and National Radio, NBC and BBC Radio 3 in the United Kingdom. The past seasons have taken Anna-Liisa Bezrodny to perform with orchestras such as the Philharmonia Orchestra, London, Moscow Symphony Orchestra, Zurich Chamber Orchestra, Helsinki Philharmonic, Turku Philharmonic, Gewandhaus Leipzig, Estonian National Orchestra, Tallinn Chamber Orchestra,  Riga Symphony Orchestra, Georgian Chamber Orchestra, Vilnius Philarmonic, Pecs Philharmonic (Hungary), Jena Philharmonic, and countless others.

Anna-Liisa is a very devoted chamber musician and she has collaborated with some of the most outstanding musicians, for. ex. Ivry Gitlis, Ida Händel, Liana Isakadze, Alexander Rudin, Peeter Laul, and others. Her repertoire ranges from baroque to contemporary music, giving world-premieres to several pieces for Estonian composers, most recent of which was written and dedicated to her by Rein Rannap, “Cantilena” for Violin and Orchestra. In the near future Anna-Liisa Bezrodny’s plans include recording and premiering Timothy Dunne’s “Ribbon” Violin Concerto, dedicated to a young violinist-girl who died tragically in a helicopter accident.

In late 2010 she released another CD of Eino Tamberg Violin Concerto, an Estonian composer, in collaboration with Vanemuine Theatre and maestro Mihkel Kutson, as a celebration for the composers 80th birthday year.

Most recently Anna-Liisa released a DVD recorded for ERP Records (Estonian Record Productions), featuring Haydn and Mozart Violin Concertos, and gaining great critical acclaim. The DVD is dedicated to her late father, violinist and conductor Igor Bezrodny.

Additionally to her busy solo career, since 2007 Anna-Liisa teaches in both Purcell School as well as at the Junior Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and is very passionate about music education for our future generations. She is also currently one of the assistant concertmeisters and Soloists of the Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra.

Anna-Liisa Bezrodny currently plays on an Amati violin, kindly on loan from the Finnish Cultural Foundation.

Fredrik Paulsson, violin & viola

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Fredrik Paulsson regularly tours the world as solo violinist, violist and chamber musician. He performs at leading venues such as Wiener Konzertverein and Konzerthaus, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Alice Tully Hall, Wigmore Hall and Palais des Beaux Arts in Paris, and at the world’s top festivals – ranging from Aldeburgh, Bath, Norwich and Edinburgh to Risör to Kuhmo. In addition, Fredrik Paulsson has  been concert master at Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra and the Swedish Chamber Orchestra.  

As a chamber musician, Fredrik performs with musicians such as Janine Jansen, Leif-Ove Andsnes, Julius Drake, Natalie Clein, Colin Carr, Maxim Rysanov, Martin Fröst, Andreas Blau and Pierre-Laurent Aimard. Fredrik has performed under conductors such as Emanuel Krivine, Vladimir Jurowski, Bernard Haitink and Nikolaus Harnoncourt.

In 1990, Fredrik Paulsson won the competition Young Soloists with Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra. That same year he founded the Yggdrasil Quartet, which quickly achieved international renown. Shortly thereafter, Fredrik Paulsson was appointed Artist in Residence at Swedish Radio P2. Several of the recordings of the Yggdrasil Quartet have been internationally acclaimed, being nominated to Gramophone Recording of the Year and Cannes Midem Award.

Fredrik plays a J B Guadagnini anno 1745, which has been lent to him by Järnåkersfonden.

Ellen Nisbeth, viola

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As one of the most exciting young soloists emerging from Scandinavia, Swedish born violist Ellen Nisbeth, recently selected by ECHO (the European Concert Hall Organisation) as one of its ‘Rising Stars’ of the 2017/18 season. Making her debut on the international music scene performing at prestigeous venues, such as Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Barbican Center London, Musikverein Vienna, Cité de la Musique Paris and BOZAR Brussels among others. Nisbeth has recently started a collaboration with BIS Records and in 2017 she released a highly praised recital disc; Let Beauty Awake.

As a soloist, Ellen has performed with leading orchestras such as the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Norwegian Radio Orchestra, Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, Trondheim Symphony Orchestra, Brandenburger Symfoniker, Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra and Norrköping Symphony Orchestra. She has collaborated with conductors as Neeme Järvi, Daniel Blendulf, Peter Gülke and Santtu-Matias Rouvali.

Ellen Nisbeth is the recipient of the Swedish Soloist Prize and the winner of the Nordic Soloist Prize in 2013.

In 2014 Ellen and the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra (Daniel Blendulf) gave the world premiere of a viola concerto written to her by Britta Byström. The recording was released by Daphne Records the fall of 2014 and has been critically acclaimed by national and international media. For her performance of the Byström Concerto, she was named “A model soloist” by Gramophone and nominated for a Swedish Grammy in 2015. The viola concerto was preceded by Dream Day, a piece for viola solo Byström wrote for Nisbeth premiered in Finland on Finnish Radio in 2013.

Ellen appears frequently at international festivals such as Bergen International Festival, Oslo Chamber Music Festival, Stavanger International Chamber Music Festival, Risør Chamber Music Festival, Vinterfest and Verbier Festival. Musicians she has performed with include: Martin Fröst, Leif Ove Andsnes, Akiko Suwanai, Daniel Hope, Ray Chen, Natalie Clein, Truls Mørk, Martin Helmchen, Alexander Melnikov and Bengt Forsberg.

Nisbeth has studied under prof. Peter Herresthal at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm, Norwegian Academy of Music and the Royal College of Music in London. 

Nisbeth regularly gives master classes and since 2015 Nisbeth is appointed Associated Professor at Stavanger University Music Department. Ellen also teaches at Edsberg Manor, Royal College of Music in Stockholm. 

She performs on a Dom Nicolo Amati viola from 1714.

Senja Rummukainen, cello

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Senja Rummukainen (b. 1994) was awarded the first prize in the Turku Cello Competition in 2014 and in 2015 she was one of the finalists in the Guilhermina Suggia Prize cello competition in Portugal. She was also a  finalist in the highly renowned Tchaikovsky Competition in 2019. Senja performs regularly at Finnish music festivals and has performed as a soloist with the Mariinksy Theatre Orchestra, Helsinki philharmonic orchestra, Turku philharmonic orchestra, the Ostrobothnian Chamber Orhestra, the Kuopio Symphony Orchestra, Württembergische Philharmonie Reutlingen a.o. She has also recorded for YLE, the Finnish public service media company. In 2017 Senja got recruited as second solo cellist at the Helsinki philharmonic orchestra. At the moment, Rummukainen studies for Jens-Peter Maintz at Universität der Künste in Berlin. Senja has studied for teachers such as Taru Aarnio, Marko Ylönen, Young-Chang Cho and Truls Mørk. Thanks to Jorma Panula, Senja Rummukainen has the opportunity to play on a Stefano Scarampella cello from 1897. 

Jan-Erik Gustafsson, cello

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Cellist Jan-Erik Gustafsson is currently one of the most outstanding and sought after soloist and chamber musician in the international music world today. He began his studies with Markku Luolajan-Mikkola at the West Helsinki Music Institute. He studied further with Mikhail Homitser and Frans Helmerson at the Edberg-Musikinstitut in Stockholm, completing his soloist diploma examination in 1992.

At the age of fifteen, Gustafsson placed well in the EBU Young Musician competition in Copenhagen, and since then he has performed world wide both as a soloist and as a chamber musician. He has appeared with countless distinguished orchestras such as the London Symphony Orchestra, the Bournemouth SO, the Berlin RSO, Brisbane Symphony Orchestra, Australian Chamber Orchestra and Hobart Symphony Orchestra in Australia, the Netherlands RSO, the Danish RSO, the Swedish RSO and the Stockholm Philharmonic, the Hong Kong Philharmonic, the Jerusalem SO, the Washington National SO, the New York and Vienna Chamber Orchestras, Camerata Bern and the Amadeus Chamber Orchestra. He has appeared with nearly all Finnish orchestras.

Jan-Erik Gustafsson has collaborated with some of the most outstanding maestros, including Jukka-Pekka Saraste, Okko Kamu, Leif Segerstam, Leonid Grin, Yan-Pascal Tortelier, Andrew Litton, Neeme Järvi, Daniel Harding, and many others.

In 1994, Jan-Erik Gustafsson signed a contract with the American YCA agency. Consequently, he regularly gives solo recitals on tour in the USA, Europe and the Far East at venues such as Carnegie Hall and Alice Tully Hall in New York, the Kennedy Center in Washington, Suntory Hall in Tokyo and the Brahms Hall in Vienna, Barbican Hall , Queen Elizabeth Hall and Wigmore Hall in London,  and many more. At chamber music festivals worldwide, he has collaborated with Pinchas Zukerman, Ralf Gothóni, Leif-Ove Andsnes, Paavali Jumppanen,Arto Satukangas, Leonidas Kavakos, Liana Isakadze, Ivry Gitlis, and countless others.

In 1997 Jan-Erik Gustafsson received a personal invitation from maestro Mstislav Rostropovich to perform the Prokofiev Sinfonia Concertante at the Cello Congress with the St. Petersburgh Philharmonic Orchestra in St. Petersburgh, Russia.

Jan-Erik Gustafsson has made several recordings for Ondine, claiming world-wide critical acclaim and praise for his interpretations. His disc featuring Cello Sonatas by Szymanowski, Kodály and Schnittke (ODE 827-2) was nominated Record of the Year in 1994 and his Englund Cello Concerto disc (ODE 951-2) was nominated Record of the Year 2000, both by the Finnish IFPI. Jan-Erik Gustafsson has recorded the Prokofiev Sinfonia Concertante with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra and maestro Sakari Oramo, receiving outstanding praise and critique from all over the world (Washington Post calling the performance being “set ablaze with fury and grandeur.”)

Jan-Erik Gustafsson has given numerous masterclasses in Europe, USA and Asia, and currently teaches at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, Finland. 

Since 1996 Jan-Erik Gustafsson is the artistic director of the Loviisa Sibelius Festival in Finland, 

He currently plays on a Stefano Scarampella from 1890. 

Niek de Groot, double bass

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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 2017/18. 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.

Paavali Jumppanen, piano

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In the brief span of recent seasons, the imaginative and versatile Finnish virtuoso Paavali Jumppanen has established himself as a dynamic musician of seemingly unlimited capability who has already cut a wide swath internationally as a solo recitalist, orchestral collaborator, recording artist, artistic director, and frequent performer of contemporary and avant-garde music.

Mr. Jumppanen has performed extensively in the United States, Europe, Japan, China, and Australia alongside such great conductors as David Robertson, Sakari Oramo, Osmo Vänskä, and Jaap van Zweden. He has commissioned numerous works and collaborated with such composers as Boulez, Murail, Dutilleux, Penderecki, as well as many Finnish composers. The Boston Globe praised the “overflowing energy of his musicianship” and The New York Times his “power and an extraordinary range of colors.”

In the recent years Paavali Jumppanen has dedicated much of his time into performing cycles of the complete Beethoven and Mozart Piano Sonatas. He has also often performed all of the Beethoven Piano Concertos and chamber sonatas. Paavali Jumppanen attended at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki and later worked with Krystian Zimerman at the Basel Music Academy in Switzerland where he also studied organ, fortepiano, and clavichord. Russian born pianist Konstantin Bogino has remained an important mentor throughout his career.

Paavali Jumppanen’s has an expanding discography which includes “the best recorded disc of Boulez’s piano music so far” (The Guardian, about the three sonatas recording on DGG made upon the composer’s request) and the complete Beethoven Piano Sonatas on Ondine. Mr. Jumppanen spent the 2011–12 season as a visiting scholar in Harvard University’s Music Department studying musicology and theory to deepen his immersion in Viennese 18th century music.

Emil Holmström, piano

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Emil Holmström performs as a soloist and chamber musician, in bands or at transboundary events. You can spot him at various Finnish festivals and concert series, where he performs regularly. He has performed as a soloist with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Lapland Chamber Orchestra and The Tapiola Sinfonietta, to name a few. At the moment, Holmström has taken a special interest in 19th century grand pianos (he owns a Bösendorfer from 1882) as well as contemporary music with all its richness. He performs new music together with the Uusinta Ensemble and defunensemble, as well as with the chamber orchestra Avanti!. Holmström has made several recordings for Finland’s public radio and Alba Records a.o. He studied at the Sibelius Academy for Erik. T. Tawaststjerna and completed his studies in Paris for Marie-Françoise Bucquet.

Holmström is an active event organizer and one of the founders of the Klassinen Hietsu concert series and The Ristiveto Festival. Highlights during the2019-20 season is the concert series Helsinki – Bösendorfer -1880, where he dives into 19th century German repertoire, seasoned with more northern influences. In the beginning of 2019, Holmström released a record together with violinist Eriikka Maalismaa. The record, which included Schumanns three violin Sonatas, was well received both in Finland and abroad.

Mirka Viitala, piano

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Mirka Viitala began her piano career at the age of four with studies for her father. Later on, she studied at the Kuusamo music school and the Sibelius Academy’s youth department followed the Sibelius Academy music department, where she studied for Hui-Ying Liu-Tawaststjerna, Teppo Koivisto, Matti Raekallio and prof. Ralf Gothoni. Viitala completed her studies for prof. Jan Wijns at the Sweelinck Conservatory in Amsterdam, and with master classes for Murray Perahia, Liisa Pohjola, Dmitri Bashkirov and Olli Mustonen.

Viitala has received awards in several national and international piano competitions, including 1st prize at the Fazer piano competition in1988 and the Espoo chamber music competition in 1992. She was awarded with 2nd prize at the Tel Hai Masterclass piano competition in Israel 1996. She has also been awarded in the Sibelius Academy Bead Vesa piano competition 1990 and 1999, and received the Diploma di Merito award from Sienan Accademia Musicale Chigiana in 1994. 

Mirka gave her first concert at the Sibelius Academy debut series in Helsinki in 1999 with success. Highlights during the following year included recital concerts at the Helsinki festival’s Young Virtuoso series and at the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival in Germany. She has performed as a soloist with orchestras, as a recital soloist and as a chamber musician in Finland, Europe, USA, Israel, Russia and South Africa. In 2000 she started recording for the Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE, for whom she has recorded works by Sergei Prokofiev, Franz Liszt, Pasi Lyytikäinen, Jean Sibelius and Jean-Philippe Rameau, to name a few.

Viitala’s extensive and versatile solo and chamber music repertoire ranges from Baroque to newly written music; she has performed works by a number of domestic and foreign composers including works by Matthew Whittall, Pasi Lyytikäinen, Ari Romppanen and Henrik Denerin. In 2009, Viitala performed the Finnish premiere of “13 Ways of Looking at the Goldberg”, which was commissioned by the Irving S. Gilmore Foundation. In 2012, she recorded piano music by composer Fred Lerdahl for Bridge Records (USA), the record has been played on radio throughout the United States. From 2006 to 2009 she was the artistic director of the Flyygelikuu concert series. Over the past few years, Viitala has frequently performed together with Finland’s leading contemporary music ensembles such as the defunensemble, Avanti! and Zagros Ensemble. Since 2016 she has been a member of the UMUU collective, which specializes in historical avant-garde repertoire.

Viitala performs together with pianist Emil Holmström under the name Viitala & Holmström Piano Duo. The duo’s current major project is to perform all of W. A. Mozart’s four-handed piano work.

Arts Promotion Centre Finland, the Pro Musica Foundation, the A. Kordelin Foundation, the Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation and the Greta and William Lehtinen Foundation have all supported Viitala’s artistic work. In 2019 she works with the support of the Finnish Cultural Foundation.

Helena Juntunen, soprano

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Helena Juntunen is currently one of Finlands most dazzling young sopranos to have established an international career. Her responsive soprano voice enraptures audiences with its freshness, and her phrasing is praised for its expressive and natural quality. Helenas career in Finland was established through winning many competitions, one of the most important of which was the ladies section of the Lappeenranta Singing Competition in 2002, and in October 2006 she was awarded the Karita Mattila prize.

The role of Marguerite in Gounods Faust at the Savonlinna Opera Festival in 2002 can be considered as Helenas professional breakthrough. She made her debut with the Connecticut Opera in the USA in the same role during the 2003-2004 season. In fact the season could be considered as the season of debuts as Helena also made her debut in Genoa in Rossinis Il viaggio a Reims (Journey to Reims) as Madame Cortese, in Antwerp as Zdenka in Strauss Arabella, and as Pamina in Mozarts The Magic Flute at the Saxon State Opera Dresden. In addition, Helena also gave her debut concert at New Yorks Carnegie Hall in October 2003 and then in Tokyo.

Helena Juntunen has been a regular performer at the Finnish National Opera since 1999. He as appeared in such roles as Zdenka in Arabella and as Madame Cortese in Il viaggio a Reims under the direction of Nobel-winning Dario Fo. The list of roles include Sophie in Strauss Der Rosenkavalier, Nedda in Il Pagliacci, Mimi in La Boheme, Liisa in Pohjalaisia, Pamina in Magic Flute and world premiers such as Alide in Juri Reinveres Purge (Puhdistus) and  Helena in Sebastian Fagerlunds Autumn Sonata along Anne-Sofie von Otter.

The 2007-2008 opera year opened in Nancy with Kurt Weills The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahoganny. In Geneva, Juntunen was heard in the role of Pamina. Spring 2008 also included a debut in the role of the Countess in Mozarts The Marriage of Figaro in Nice. Summer 2008 highlight was the title role in the new opera by Finnish composer Veli-Matti Puumala, “Anna Liisa”. Juntunen’s engagements for the 2008-2009 included debut at the Göteborgs Operan in the role of Mimì in Puccini’s La Bohéme.

Most recently she made her debut with Opéra National de Lyon as both Contessa Almaviva (Le nozze di Figaro) and Donna Elvira (Don Giovanni), Mimi in Puccinis La Boheme  with Gothenborgs Opera,  Marietta (Korngolds Die tote Stadt) and Infantin Clara (Der Zwerg) both for Opéra National de Lorraine, Marie (Wozzeck)with Opéra de Nice, Zdenka (Arabella) for Vlaamse Opera, Tatyana (Eugene Onegin) in Wasa Theatre, Greta Graumann (Der Ferne Klang of Schreker) in Opera National du Rhin, Strasbourg.   She is also particularly associated with the role of Pamina, which she performed at Festival dAix en Provence under Daniel Harding, at La Monnaie under René Jacobs, and at Grand Théâtre de Genève, Wiener Festwochen, Theater an der Wien and Sachsische Staatsoper Dresden.

Juntunen’s recent concert highlights include Luonnotar of Sibelius in Sydney and London Vladimir Ashkenazy, in Amsterdam with Leif Segerstam, Ottawa with John Storgårds,  Mendelssohns A Midsummer Nights Dream at the Lucerne Festival under Vladimir Jurowski, Unsuk Chins SnagS&Snarls in Stavanger, Helsinki and London, creation of Haflidi Hallgrimssons new song cycle in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Reykjavik, Beethovens Missa Solemnis with La Verdi under Xian Zhang and with Sir Colin Davies in London, Bonn, Paris and New York Strausss Vier letzte Lieder with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra under Leif Segerstam and her debuts with the Berliner Philharmoniker under Donald Runnicles with Ein deutsches Requiem, and with the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Vänskä with Szymanowskis Stabat Mater.

In recent season Juntunen has performed Madama Butterfly and Donna Elvira in Savonlinna Opera Festival,  Marie/Marietta of Die Tote Stadt in Simon Stones critically acclaimed production in Basel,  Salome in Olivier Pys production in Strasbourg, Kata Kabanova in Opera National de Lorraine and soprano part in staged version of Dvoráks Stabat Mater in Montpellier.

Helena Juntunen has appeared as a soloist with numerous Finnish orchestras and worked with conductors such as Esa-Pekka Salonen, Jukka-Pekka Saraste, Leif Segerstam, Osmo Vänskä, Mikko Franck and Hannu Lintu. Helenas recordings for the Ondine label have included a solo album of lieder by Leevi Madetoja together with the pianist Gustav Djupsjöbacka, and complete recordings of Einojuhani Rautavaaras operas Aleksis Kivi and Auringon talo (House of the Sun). In spring 2006, the BIS label released the Spirit of Nature album in the Sibelius edition, which features not only Luonnotar but also the world premiere recording of the orchestral versions of the songs Höstkväll (Autumn Evening) and Hertig Magnus (Duke Magnus), conducted by Osmo Vänskä.

Janne Thomsen, flute

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…. “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.

Takuya Takashima, oboe

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Takuya Takashima (born in Kushiro, Hokkaido, Japan) started playing the piano at Kawai Music School and played the trumpet, saxophone and oboe in the schools wind orchestra. He graduated from Hokkaido University of Education, Sapporo in 2001 with Iwasaki Hiromasa from the Sapporo Symphony Orchestra as his teacher. Takashima came to Finland as an exchange student at the Sibelius Academy, studied with Jouko Teikari and graduated as Master of Music in 2008. Takashima has also been a residential artist at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris during 2007-08, and studied the oboe with Jacques Tys and the baroque oboe with Rafael Palacios.

Takashima made his debut as soloist for the Sapporo Symphoy Orchestra in 1999, playing Richard Strauss oboe concerto. He won first prize in both the Hokkaido International Music Exchange Society-competition (HIMES) and Lahti wind instrument competition in 2000. He got grants from HIMES and Hokkaido Arts Foundation which supported his exchange to Finland. Takashima has worked at the Turku Philharmonic Orchestra since 2001, where he now works as the principal oboe player. Previously he has studies as academy member, worked as musician and orchestra manager at the Pacific Music Festival in Sapporo during 2005-13. He has also performed as a soloist, chamber musician in Finland, France, South Korea and Japan. He recorded improvisational music with the composer Paul Schütz to be a part of Josiah McElhey’s installation “Island Universe”. The exhibition has been out in London’s and Madrid’s art museums. He has been playing as guest principal oboe player at such as the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, the orchestra of Finnish National Opera and Ballet, Tapiola sinfonietta, Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, Norwegian Radio Orchestra and Norwegian National Opera – Ballet orchestra. He has been teaching at Turku region music school and Sibelius Academy.

Otto Virtanen, bassoon

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Otto Virtanen started his piano studies at the age of 6 at the music school in Ylä-Satakunta. At the age of 15 he moved to the conservatory in Tampere where he studied the bassoon for Stig Forsman. He has also studied at the Sibelius Academy for László Hara and Jussi Särkkä. He has studied komposition and orchestration with Tapio Nevanlinna and Leonid Bashmakov.

He got his bassoon diploma in 1997 and in 2000 Virtanen got his Master’s degree in Music. He has taken master classes for Agers Svendsen, Pascal Gallois a.o.

Otto Virtanen began his orchestra career at the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra 1995-1999 and continued as solo bassoonist at the Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra in 1999-2004. Since the fall of 2004 Virtanen is the first solo bassoonist at the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra. 

In addition to playing in orchestras, Otto is an active chamber musician and an ambassador for the versatile bassoon. He has performed as a soloist with a large number of Finnish orchestras, done numerous recordings for the radio and performed at many festivals in Finland. He has collaborated with a lot of Finnish composers and has premiered many pieces. In his concerts he likes to combine music from different time periods, everything from the Baroque era to 21st century music.

Otto shares the same favorite avocation as several of the USA’s latest presidents. Not tweeting uncontrollably but a certain traditional Scottish ball game.

József Hárs, french horn & conductor

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Finnish-Hungarian conductor József Hárs is one the musicians who were predestined to be in front of an orchestra. While serving as the principal French horn player of the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, he frequently works as a conductor with the leading orchestras and musical ensembles in Finland.

Hárs has conducted almost all of the professional orchestras in his country, including the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra. He has collaborated and toured with various ensembles such as contemporary music ensemble Uusinta Ensemble. 

József Hárs was born in Hungary 1976 to a non-musical family. He started taking French horn and piano lessons in the music school of his hometown Pápa at the age of 8. In 1994, he moved to Freiburg Germany, entering the professional studies in French horn and pursuing his career as a musician. After completing his diploma in Frankfurt and a period of working in Austria as an orchestra musician, he moved to Finland, joining the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra in 2006. He has served as the principal French horn player of the orchestra from 2009. József studied conducting at the Sibelius Academy during years 2011–2014, under Leif Segerstam´s and Atso Almila´s guidance. He enjoyed being supervised by teachers like Jorma Panula, Hannu Lintu, Mikko Franck, Sakari Oramo, Susanna Mälkki and John Storgårds.

He sees himself foremost as a servant of the music and the audience, be it entertaining a concert hall full of children, performing for contemporary music fans, or producing music in a recording studio. He manages all that at the highest level possible, with a distinctive style and a twinkle in the eye.

Christoffer Sundqvist, clarinet

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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.

Jukka Perko, saxophone

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Saxophonist Jukka Perko (born 1968) was only a teenager when he played his way into the hearts of audiences in Pori Jazz Festival 1986. The following year he received an invitation to join the ranks of Dizzy Gillespie’s 70th Anniversary Big Band on tour. These days the jazz rhythmics and free flow of ideas that define Perko’s art come together with the heartbeat of traditional Finnish music from the powerful harmony of hymns to the tangos of Olavi Virta.

For Jukka Perko, music is existence. He learned to play as he learned to speak, by listening and mimicking. Perko approaches music from silence and describes his attitude towards playing and composing as balancing between perfectionism and coming to terms with incompleteness. That is perhaps the reason why his notes ring with what some might call grace.

Jarmo Saari, guitar

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Jarmo Saari (b. 1970) is one of his generation’s most characteristic guitarists. This musician, composer and producer has performed in over 30 countries, appeared on over 100 records and received the Finland Award in 2012 for his artistic works. He is known for a visual compositional style and layered sound collages made with guitar, vocals, theremin, viola da gamba, trombone, loops and glass harp. He has composed music for concerts, movies, choreographies, theaters, albums a.o. This year the German record label Membran released Jarmo Saari Republic’s latest album ”Soldiers of Light”.

ZetaBooXL, Reuna and FilmtetJarmo Saari Solu, Trubamolli as well as Republic are all part of his creations. Saari has worked as a guitarist, multi-instrumentalist and composer with musicians and ensembles such as Tero Saarinen, Jukka Perko, Michael Brecker, the Tapiola Choir, Avanti!, Emma Salokoski, Timo Lassy, the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Meta4 string quartet, Susanna Haavisto, EBB, Esko Salminen, Mika Kaurismäki, Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, Anna-Mari Kähärä, Trilok Gurtu, Pekka Kuusisto, UMO Jazz Orchestra, Tuomari Nurmio, Don Huonot, Jorma Hynninen and Pepe Deluxe.

Sivan Magen, harp

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Praised by the press as “a magician” (New York’s WQXR) whose “brilliant sound and remarkable technical acumen shatter any stereotype of his instrument” (The NY Times), Sivan Magen transforms the harp into an expressive, colorful and virtuosic instrument, moving it to center stage through the exploration of the standard repertoire, the commissioning of today’s composers and his new adaptations to the harp of some of the greatest music of the last three centuries. Since fall 2017 he is Principal Harpist of the Finnish Radio Symphony. 

The only Israeli to have ever won the International Harp Contest in Israel, Magen is a winner of the Pro Musicis International Award and in 2012 was chosen by a committee headed by Dame Mitsuko Uchida as the winner of the Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award. He appeared as a soloist across the US, South America, Europe and Israel, in venues such as Carnegie Hall, Wigmore Hall, the Sydney Opera House and the Vienna Konzerthaus, and with orchestras such as the Israel Philharmonic, Strasbourg Philharmonic, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Jerusalem Symphony, Sydney Symphony and the Vienna Chamber Orchestra. 

 Aside from his activity as a soloist, Mr Magen is an avid chamber musician and has appeared at the Marlboro, Aspen, Rosendal, Kuhmo, Delft, and Jerusalem International Chamber Music festivals, with Musicians from Marlboro, and collaborated with artists such as Nobuko Imai, Shmuel Ashkenazi, Gary Hoffman, Emmanuel Pahud, Susanna Phillips, the Danel, Calder and Dover quartets and members of the Guarneri and Juilliard Quartets.

He is a founding member of trio Tre Voci with flutist Marina Piccinini and violist Kim Kashkashian, with whom he has toured extensively in Europe and the US, and has released to great critical acclaim a CD for ECM of music by Debussy, Gubaidulina and Takemitsu. They are constantly working to expand the flute-viola-harp repertoire by commissioning arrangements and original pieces – their 2018 program included a new commission of a trio by Toshio Hosokawa which had its European premiere at London’s Wigmore Hall. 

Since January 2008 Mr Magen is also a founding member of the Israeli Chamber Project, a group which performs in both outreach venues and major concert halls in Israel and the US, including the Israeli Conservatory in Tel Aviv, the Embassy Series in Washington D.C. and Carnegie’s Weill Hall, Town Hall, Merkin Hall, Symphony Space, the Morgan Library and Bargemusic in New York City. The ICP is the winner of the 2011 Israeli Ministry of Culture Outstanding Ensemble Award. This past season, which was their 10th anniversary season, included extended tours in the west coast of the US, as well as in Canada, Europe and Israel. 

Sivan Magen has released two solo albums for Linn Records, Fantasien, which includes mostly his own transcriptions of fantasies ranging from Bach to Brahms, and French Reflections, which explores connections between the French repertoire of the early 20th and of the early 21st centuries. Additionally were released to great critical acclaim a CD with the Israeli Chamber Project for Azica Records as well as an all-Britten CD Still Falls the Rain with tenor Nicholas Phan for Avie (listed in the  NY Times’ “Best recordings of 2012”). His performance of Ravel’s Introduction and Allegro is featured on the Marlboro festival’s 60th Anniversary CD. 

Mr Magen is also gaining a reputation as a sought-after teacher, presenting masterclasses in schools such as The Juilliard School, The Curtis Institute, The Peabody Institute, The New England Conservatory, the Paris Conservatory, London’s Royal Academy, Royal College, Guildhall School and Trinity College, as well as the summer Academy in Nice, the Kuhmo Festival Academy in Finland, and the Aspen Msuic Festival. In addition, he has been invited to serve as member of the jury of the International Harp Contest in Israel, the first Netherlands International Harp Competition, the Lyon & Healy Awards and the 2011 Vera Dulova International Harp Competition in Moscow, and served as Head of the Jury of the 2007 National Harp Contest in Taiwan. Between 2013-2017 he was a faculty member of the Brooklyn College Conservatory of Music, and in spring 2017 he was an invited professor at the Paris Conservatory. 

Born in Jerusalem, Sivan Magen studied the piano with Benjamin Oren and Talma Cohen and the harp with Irena Kaganovsky-Kessler at the Jerusalem Academy for Music and Dance. After completing his military service as an “Outstanding Musician” in 2001, he continued his studies with Germaine Lorenzini in France and then joined Isabelle Moretti’s harp class at the Paris Conservatory (CNSMDP) from which he graduated with a “Premier Prix”.  He has then completed a Master of Music degree as a student of Nancy Allen at the Juilliard School. 

Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra

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The Ostrobothnian Chamber Orhestra (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 2013, Sakari Oramo has served as the Artistic Director of the Orchestra. The new Artistic Director, Malin Broman, will take up her appointment from autumn 2019.

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. The OCO has also close contacts with composers both in Scandinavia and the Baltic countries and has premiered more than 160 works to date.

The OCO was awarded the Nordic Council Music Prize in 1993 and has since been the recipient of many other distinctions. 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 USA.  

I Violin
Reijo Tunkkari
Matti Vanhamäki
Kati Niemelä
Andrei Sytchak
Saana Laitinen

II Violin
Teija Pääkkönen
Annica Brännkärr
Saana Parviainen
Heidi Ilmolahti
Maria Pulakka

Hanna Pakkala
Ari Hanhikoski
Rosa Parada
Liisa Tamminen

Janne Virkkala
Lauri Pulakka
Ulla Lampela

Double bass
Oskari Hannula
Julius Pyrhönen


French horn
Iiro Koskinen

June Binnie

Novia Interior architecture

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NOVIA’s Interior architecture studies are the only university level design studies in Swedish in Finland. The studies include theoretical subjects as well as practical assignments in which drawing, composition and three-dimensional imaging are important tools. The students participate in collaboration projects within the professional trade and in school projects. The focus rests on human needs and comfort. Novia interior architecture collaborates with RUSK 2019.

Students: Emelie Asplund, Iryna Hansten, Jenny Sommardahl, Sofia Jägerskiöld, Nicolina Lindahl, Niklas Lindholm, Janina Nylund, Tekla Sundqvist, Catarina Clayhills, Moa Lundqvist, Camilla Nabb, Elin Larsson and Maike Jansen.

Teachers: Elina Rebers and Anders Aromäki.