Violinist Elina Vähälä is one of the sought-after instrumentalists in the international music scene. She is the winner of the 1999 Young Concert Artists International Auditions in New York and has also won prizes in the Lipinsky-Wieniawski competition in Lublin, Poland already at the age of 15, and in the Joseph Joachim Violin Competition in Hanover, Germany in 2000.
2011/12 engagements include the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra with Jakub Hrusa, Oregon Symphony under Carlos Kalmar, Helsinki Philharmonic and Jukka-Pekka Saraste, and performances with the Sinfonia Lahti and Okko Kamu at the Sibelius Festival 2011 and tours in Germany and UK. Vähälä has commissioned a violin concerto from composer Jaakko Kuusisto the premiere of which will take place in 2012.
Some of her recent highlights were appearances with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra and Tugan Sokhiev, Oregon Symphony and Carlos Kalmar, Hamburger Camerata and Ralf Gothóni, and performances at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. Vähälä has recently launched Violin Academy, a master class based educational project for selected young Finnish violinists. She is a newly appointed professor for violin at the Hochschule für Musik in Detmold, Germany since October 2009. Vähälä's new string quartet, QUADRION, is making its debut season.
Past seasons have taken Elina Vähälä on stages on five continents; she performed with the Minnesota Orchestra, Colorado Symphony, Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra, at the MIAGI festival in South Africa and on tours in China and South Korea. She also played Sibelius concerto at Konzerthaus in Berlin and Barbican in London. In December 2008 Vähälä performed at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony and concert when president Ahtisaari was awarded. The television broadcast of the Nobel concert was distributed to 300 million households in 100 countries.
Vähälä made her orchestra debut at the age of 12 with the Sinfonia Lahti. Conductor Osmo Vänskä, later, chose her as Sinfonia Lahti’s “Young Master Soloist”. Since then she has collaborated with this Gramophone Award-winning orchestra regularly. Vähälä has formed another special partnership with the legendary English Chamber Orchestra, with which she has performed around the world; in the United Kingdom, Finland, France, South Africa, Poland, Turkey, Greece, Caribbean, and in Spain, where she shared the stage with Maxim Vengerov.
Vähälä gave her New York debut in 1999 under the auspices of Young Concert Artists, and the concert received acclaim in The New York Times. Since then she has performed around the United States as soloist and chamber musician.
Vähälä’s repertoire ranges from baroque to contemporary. She gave world premieres of Aulis Sallinen's Chamber Concerto and Curtis Curtis-Smith's Double Concerto, both written for her and pianist-conductor Ralf Gothóni. Vähälä also gave the Scandinavian premiere of John Corigliano’s Violin Concerto “The Red Violin”.
As a devoted chamber musician, Vähälä’s partners include Andras Adorjan, Juri Bashmet, Ana Chumachenco, Chee-Yun, Peter Csaba, Itamar Golan, Ralf Gothóni, Ivry Gitlis, Bruno Giuranna, Gary Hoffman, Steven Isserlis, Frans Helmerson, Cho-Liang Lin, Adam Neiman, Arto Noras, Jean-Yves Thibaudet and Alisa Weilerstein.
Born in the United States and raised in Finland, Elina Vähälä started to play the violin at the age of three at the Lahti Conservatory after getting inspired by a higly popular TV-series “Minifiddlers in Musicland”, featuring young children playing the violin. She also studied under the guidance of Zinaida Gilels, Ilja Grubert and Pavel Vernikov at the Kuhmo Violin School. In 1994–1999 Vähälä studied at the Sibelius Academy with Tuomas Haapanen and received her diploma in 1999. In 1998 she also attended classes of Ana Chumachenco in Munich.
Vähälä plays an Antonio Stradivari violin, built in 1678 and generously loaned by the Finnish Cultural Foundation.