Born in the US and raised in Finland, Elina Vähälä made her orchestral debut with Sinfonia Lahti at the age of twelve and was later chosen by Osmo Vänskä as the orchestra’s ‘Young Master Soloist’. Since then, her career continues to expand 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 has appeared with orchestras including Helsinki Philharmonic, Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Sinfonia Lahti, Turku Philharmonic as well as Oregon Symphony Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra and Nashville Symphony Orchestra. She has worked with conductors Leonard Slatkin, Carlos Kalmar, Jukka-Pekka Saraste, Okko Kamu, Jakub Hrůša, Thierry Fischer, Jeffrey Tate, Sakari Oramo and Leif Sergerstam and toured throughout the UK, Finland, Germany, China, Korea and South America; in 2008 she was chosen to perform at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony which was televised to a worldwide audience.
Recent highlights include highly successful debuts with Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra, Strasbourg Philharmonic Orchestra and Gävle Symphony Orchestra, performances with Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Buffalo Philharmonic and Colorado Symphony orchestras, as well as a tour of the US with the Festival Pablo Casals Prades Collective.
With a repertoire that ranges from baroque to contemporary, Elina Vähälä has given world premieres of Aulis Sallinen’s Chamber Concerto and Curtis-Smith’s Double Concerto, both written for her and pianist-conductor Ralf Gothóni. In addition, Vähälä gave the first Nordic performance of John Corigliano’s Violin Concerto ‘The Red Violin’ and commissioned a new violin concerto from composer Jaakko Kuusisto. Both the Corgiliano and Kuusisto concertos were recorded for BIS in 2013.
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 selected, highly talented young Finnish violinists. She is a professor at the University of Music in Karlsruhe, Germany.
Vähälä’s instrument is made by Giovanni Battista Guadagnini in 1780.