ELINA VÄHÄLÄ, VIOLIN
“In Sibelius’s Violin Concerto, 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 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 versatility and charismatic performances have won praise from audiences and musicians alike: ‘a fluent, stylish and gifted musician whose brilliant technique is matched by an abundant spirit, sensitivity and imagination’ (Chicago Tribune).
She 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, Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg, RTVE Spanish Radio Orchestra. She has toured extensively throughout the UK, Finland, Germany, China, Korea and South America.She enjoys fruitful working partnerships with many leading conductors such as Leonard Slatkin, Carlos Kalmar, Jukka-Pekka Saraste, Okko Kamu, Jakub Hrůša, Daniela Musca, Thierry Fischer, Sakari Oramo, Santtu-Matias Rouvali, Leif Segerstam, Josep Caballé- Domenech, Alexander Liebreich, and Michał Nesterowicz.
In 2023, Elina assumed the position of Artistic Director of the Naantali Music Festival, having previously been the Artistic Co-Director of the Oulu Music Festival. Highlights of last season include debuts with BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra, Hamburg Symphony, Janacek Philharmonic, Belgrade Philharmonic, Seoul Philharmonic and the Adelaide Festival, and returns to Houston Symphony, Princeton Symphony, Oulu Symphony, Turku Philharmonic, Kymi Sinfonietta, Nordic Chamber Orchestra, Wroclaw Philharmonic, Her chamber festival performances included the Chiemgauer Festival in Germany, Storioni Festival in Eindhoven, Netherlands, the Naantali, Kuhmo and Korsholm festivals in Finland, the Clandeboye Festival and the Seoul International Chamber Festival. BIS released her recording of Kalevi Aho’s Violin Concerto No. 2 with the Kymi Sinfonietta and Olari Elts.
The 2023-24 season sees her as a soloist in the US and Canada, with Columbus Symphony Ohio and Symphony Nova Scotia, in the UK with Dalia Stasevska and BBC Symphony Orchestra in London as part of a Total Immersion project on the works of Missy Mazzoli, and across Europe in Slovenia, Sweden and Finland. She also makes returns to Wroclaw Philharmonic, Hamburg Symphony, Norrkoping Symphony, Tampere Philharmonic Lahti Symphony and Lohja City Orchestras, the Naantali Music Festival, and the Seoul International Music Festival.
Elina has given world premieres of Aulis Sallinen's Chamber Concerto, Curtis Curtis-Smith's Double Concerto, Jaakko Kuusisto’s Violin Concerto, and Kalevi Aho’s Concerto no 2, all of which were written for her, as well as Jan Sandström’s Concerto. In addition, she gave the first Nordic performance of Corigliano’s Violin Concerto ‘The Red Violin’ and is one of the soloists of choice for this work. Befitting her Finnish roots, she has premiered many chamber works and violin concertos by Finnish composers, including those by Magnus Lindberg and Jaakko Kuusisto, and is one of very few to perform the Sibelius concerto in its early version.
Elina is committed to the development of skills and opportunities for young musicians. In 2009 she launched the Violin Academy, a masterclass-based educational project for highly talented young Finnish violinists funded by the Finnish Cultural Foundation. 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.
She performs with a Giovanni Battista Guadagnini violin made in 1780.