Born in the US and raised in Finland, Elina Vähälä made her orchestral debut with the Lahti Symphony Orchestra at the age of twelve and was later chosen by Osmo Vänskä as the orchestra’s ‘Young Master Soloist’. Since then, her career has continued to develop 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 appears regularly with all of the key Finnish orchestras as well being a guest of countless high-profile orchestras across the globe such as Houston Symphony, Vancouver Symphony, Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra, Beethoven Orchester Bonn, Dortmund Philharmoniker, Istanbul State Symphony, Malmo Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg, RTVE Spanish Radio Orchestra, and has toured throughout the UK, Finland, Germany, China, Korea and South America.
She enjoys a fruitful working partnership with many leading conductors such as Leonard Slatkin, Carlos Kalmar, Jukka-Pekka Saraste, Okko Kamu, Jakub Hrůša, Thierry Fischer, Sakari Oramo, Leif Segerstam, Josep Caballé-Domenech, Alexander Liebreich, and Michał Nesterowicz.
The 2020/21 season will see Elina Vähälä’s debuts with the Gothenburg Symphony, Norrkoping Symphony, Nordic Chamber Orchestra, Belgrade Philharmonic, Prague Radio Symphony and Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra in Ostrava, as well as return visits to Helsinki Philharmonic, Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Turku Philharmonic, Oulu Symphony Orchestra and Wroclaw Philharmonic. She will also appear at the Festivals in Tampere, Clandeboye, Seoul and Oulu, where she has just been appointed Co-Artistic Director, together with saxophonist Jukka Perko.
Highlights of the last seasons include debuts with the Orchestre National de Lyon, Polish National Radio Symphony, Singapore Symphony, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, Swedish Radio Orchestra, Qingdao Symphony, RTÉ National Symphony, Gävle Symphony, Shenzhen Symphony, and performances with the Finnish Radio Symphony, Lahti Symphony, Helsinki Philharmonic, Niederrheinische Symphony, Norrlandsoperan Symphony, Detroit Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic and Colorado Symphony.
Elina Vähälä has given world premieres of Aulis Sallinen's Chamber Concerto, Curtis Curtis-Smith's Double Concerto, Jaakko Kuusisto’s Concerto, and Kalevi Aho’s Concerto no 2, all of which were written for her, as well as the Jan Sandström’s Concerto. In addition, Elina Vähälä gave the first Nordic performance of Corigliano’s Violin Concerto ‘The Red Violin’ and continues to be one of the soloists of choice for this work. Befitting her Finnish roots, she is one of very few to perform the Sibelius concerto in its early version.
Her affinity with the music of the 20th and 21st centuries is evident back in recording studio twice this year: a disc devoted to the music Aho, including his Violin Concerto no 2, and a project with the Polish National Radio Symphony and with Alexander Liebreich as part of their focus on Szymanowski.
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 highly talented young Finnish violinists. Previously professor at the Hochschule für Musik in Karlsruhe, Germany, she has been professor at the Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst in Vienna since September 2019. Elina Vähälä performs with a Giovanni Battista Guadagnini violin made in 1780.