Her sound and virtuosity win praise from music critics around the world and her playing has been praised as dazzling, sensitive and brilliant. Born in Iowa in the US, Vähälä’s reputation as a charismatic and exceptionally versatile musician springs from her wide repertoire, which covers concertos and chamber music alike, ranging from baroque to contemporary.

Vähälä has given world premieres of Jaakko Kuusisto’s Violin Concerto, Aulis Sallinen’s Chamber Concerto and Kalevi Aho’s Violin Concerto No 2. She also performed the early version of Sibelius’s Violin Concerto with Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra — a piece that has been considered nearly impossible to play.

Recent highlights include performances with Minnesota Orchestra, Detroit Symphony Orchestra and Houston Symphony, Orchestra National de Lyon, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra and Singapore Symphony Orchestra, as well as several performances with Finnish orchestras. Vähälä is also a distinguished soloist on Lahti Symphony Orchestra’s tours, visiting Asia, South America and Central Europe alike.

Educational activities play an important role in her commitment to music: in 2009 she was one of the founders of the Violin Academy—a master class based educational project for selected, highly talented young Finnish violinists—and since 2019 she holds a violin professor position at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna (MDW). Elina Vähälä’s instrument is Giovanni Battista Guadagnini from 1780.



Naantali Music Festival starts with a bang! Duo per Due, composed especially for this concert by Auli Sallinen, is premiered by Arto Noras, who has led the Music Festival for 40 years, and the new artistic director, violinist Elina Vähälä. Belgian composer César Franck’s works are filled with passion and the pathos of late Romanticism, while Korean composer Jeajoon Ryu’s cello sonata translates the beauty of the 19th century into contemporary language.



In the concert Schubertiade we’ll hear the most beloved works of Franz Schubert performed by soprano Helena Juntunen and pianists Barry Douglas and Paavali Jumppanen.

All the darkness in the world is not enough to extinguish the light of a single candle, and without shadows there would be no light. Sebastian Fagerlund’s dramatic Transient Light and Ralf Gothóni’s melodrama, based on a Zen Buddhist story, bring us face to face with age-old questions. Paavali Jumppanen performs Franz Liszt’s most iconic piano work, the Piano Sonata in B minor, which reaches from darkness to light.

“These notes of mine kiss all of you. They call for you passionately,” wrote Leoš Janáček to his young beloved in the cover letter of his string quartet. Richard Wagner’s haunting Tristan and Isolde also deals with lust and longing for one’s beloved. American composer Amy Beach’s piano quintet, full of late Romantic passion, has become a favourite with audiences and critics alike in recent years.

In Naantali, the annual cycle does not follow familiar paths. Uneven rhythms and fiery pace take over Sebastian Fagerlund’s Octet and Astor Piazzolla’s Winter, while Vernon Duke takes a Broadway bathed in light to a Paris in spring. Experimental music master George Crumb’s haunting Music for a Summer Evening resonates with every listener.

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