May 14, 2020: Finnish star of the violin, Elina Vähälä, has been appointed Co-Artistic Director of the Oulu Music Festival
The Oulu Music Festival has named the Finnish violinist Elina Vähälä and saxophonist Jukka Perko as its new Artistic Directors. For the first time in the festival’s history, two artistic directors will share the programming responsibilities: Elina Vähälä will be in charge of planning the classical music programme, whilst Jukka Perko will lead on the jazz, world and pop music. The new team will take over from Jaakko Kuusisto after the 2021 festival.
Born in the US, Elina Vähälä is among the most sought-after Finnish violinists in the international music scene. Her sound and virtuosity win praise from music critics around the world and her playing has been praised as dazzling, sensitive and brilliant. Her reputation as a charismatic and exceptionally versatile musician stems from her extensive repertoire, which covers concertos and chamber music alike, ranging from baroque to contemporary.
Elina has given world premieres of Jaakko Kuusisto’s Violin Concerto, Aulis Sallinen’s Chamber Concerto and Kalevi Aho’s Violin Concerto No 2. Recent highlights include performances with Minnesota Orchestra, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Houston Symphony, Orchestra National de Lyon, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra and Singapore Symphony Orchestra, as well as several performances with Finnish orchestras. In 2009 she was one of the founders of the Violin Academy – a masterclass-based educational project for selected, highly talented young Finnish violinists – and since 2019 she holds a violin professorship at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna (MDW).
Elina commented: “I’m very much looking forward to my new position as an Co-Artistic Director with Jukka Perko. I first performed at the Oulu Music Festival in 1993, and since then I have had the joy to observe how the festival has developed into one of the Finland’s most high-class and prominent arts festivals, and is now an essential part of Oulu’s cultural life. I’m happy, that as Co-Artistic Director I am able to continue Jaakko Kuusisto’s legacy by giving the audience unique experiences with the internationally-known, esteemed classical artists”.
Oulu Music Festival is held annually during March in the city of Oulu, in northern Finland. The international music festival offers a wide range of concerts from classical music to jazz and world music, co-produces programs with circus and dance, and arranges master classes. During the past years the festival program has included productions like Jesus Christ Superstar, as well as visiting concerts with world-known artists like Karita Mattila and Osmo Vänskä with Oulu Symphony Orchestra.