Hailed by the Boston Musical Intelligencer for ”inventive, playful and tasteful” playing, Christopher Grills is leading a multifaceted career as clavichordist, harpsichordist, church musician and tuning and temperament scholar. Christopher's special affinity for the clavichord has brought him to attention on the international music scene. In 2013, he performed on the clavichord at Musica Antiqua a Magnano in Italy and in May 2017, he will perform at the Nordic Historical Keyboard Festival in Finland. Grills is the first and only student in North America to pursue graduate studies focused on the clavichord. He earned his Master of Music in Historical Performance at Boston University under the tutelage of Peter Sykes and received a full-tuition scholarship to pursue his Doctor of Musical Arts at the same institution. He has been featured in interviews in The Joplin Globe and in Tangents, the bulletin of the Boston Clavichord Society. He has also been a regular contributor to Tangents. Grills maintains a busy schedule as a collaborative keyboardist and has worked with Robert Mealy, Phoebe Carrai, Edicson Ruiz, Sarah Darlin, and Martin Bernstein. He performs harpsichord continuo with the Harvard Baroque Chamber Orchestra and the Longy Baroque Orchestra. As Acting Director of Music at Plymouth Congregational Church in Belmont, Massachusetts, he reinstated a church orchestra and a children's choir. He is currently organist at First Congregational Church in Chelsea, Massachusetts. Christopher Grills is a member of Early Music America, the Boston Clavichord Society, Delta Omicron International Music Fraternity, the Phi Kappa Delta Honor Society for International Studies, and the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society for Musicians.
Harpsichordist Marianna Henriksson studied at Sibelius Academy, Helsinki (Master of Music 2010) and Universität der Künste, Berlin (Konzertexamen with remark of excellence 2012). She performs in Finland and all over Europe as a soloist and as a member of many different ensembles, among others with Helsinki Baroque Orchestra (dir. Aapo Häkkinen, Finland), Les Ambassadeurs (dir. Alexis Kossenko, France), KORE Baroque Orchestra (Poland) and Barocco Boreale (Finland). She was chosen as the 1st harpsichordist of European Union Baroque Orchestra for the seasons 2013-14, and during that period she performed in most of European countries with conductors such as Lars Ulrik Mortensen, Stefano Montanari and Rachel Podger. Years 2012-2016 she performed as the harpsichord soloist of the breakdance show Flying Bach, touring with the Berliner breakdance virtuoso group Flying Steps in Europe, Japan, Russia and Chile. With choreographer Anna Mustonen, she has created a performance Di anima et di corpo combining early Italian baroque music to new dance, and performed many times in Finland as well as at Bolzano Antiqua festival. Marianna has also performed at Finnish National Opera, performing harpsichord parts of Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress and Saariaho's Émilie, and she has premiered pieces from other notable contemporary Finnish composers. She continues her studies at the Sibelius Academy aiming for a doctor's degree on performance, with a focus point on 17th century Italian music.
The Finnish pianist Anna Kuvaja is a versatile musician who performs as a soloist, chamber musician and orchestral player and has partnered a great variety of artists. She is also renowned as a fortepianist and on the other hand has given first performances of several contemporary compositions. Anna came to public attention with her critically acclaimed debut recital in Helsinki in 2008 and has given numerous concerts in her home country and abroad since then, as well as recording for YLE (the Finnish Broadcasting Company) and appearing at many festivals. Since 2010 Anna has complemented her performing with educational work at the Sibelius Academy of the University of the Arts Helsinki, where she is highly regarded as a teacher. Anna began playing the piano in Kuhmo in eastern Finland and continued her studies at the renowned Espoo music school under Katarina Nummi-Kuisma at the age of 16. At the Sibelius Academy her teachers were Tuija Hakkila and Liisa Pohjola, and she rounded off her education with masterclasses in piano and chamber music, as an exchange student at the CNSM in Paris with Henri Barda, and in the orchestra academy of the Zurich Opera from 2005 until 2007. In 2016 Anna published her first solo album, Fluvial, on the Alba label. The record received excellent reviews and was awarded five stars in BBC Music Magazine, which praised "a stunning debut disc... powerful Schubert." Anna is the recipient of one of the Finnish state's prestigious artists' grants in 2017.
Claus Köppel's musical activities include studies Protestant Church Music at the Hochschule für Musik in Berlin with a Diploma in 1973. He was the vice president of the German Clavichord Society 2007–2012 and has done research in the history of music and medicine (e.g. castrato singers). He has a special interest in historical keyboard instruments in both collecting and playing with regular performances. He is also on the board of the Friends of the Berlin Museum for Musical Instruments. On the other hand, Dr Köppel has done a career in the field of medicine, beginning with a PhD in chemistry in 1975, becoming a licensed physician in 1984, and a M.D. Thesis in 1986. He is specialized in internal medicine, geriatric medicine, emergency medicine, medical intensive care, environmental medicine, and forensic toxicology. Dr. Köppel concluded his long and illustrious career as the Head of the Clinic of Geriatrics and the Center of Gerontology at Vivantes-Wenckebach-Klinikum in Berlin, where he arranged a weekly series of Early Music concerts. Since his retirement he has founded several geriatric clinics in Germany.
Pilvi Listo is originally from Turku. She graduated from Sibelius Academy in 2006 majoring in both organ and the harpsichord. During her studies and after concluding them Listo has worked in the Finnish field of orchestra and ensemble, given solo recitals and taught. In addition to playing she enjoys swimming in the summer and the Italian climate. At home in addition to the long wooden ”child” (= the harpsichord) three human children and one husband.
Guadalupe López-Íñiguez (1983, Valencia-Spain) has a double career as cello player and researcher. She holds a PhD in Psychology with the distinctions Cum Laude and International Mention from the Autonomous University of Madrid, and the Master’s Degree in Period Cello Performance from the Sibelius Academy (University of the Arts Helsinki). She also holds a Master’s Degree in History and Science of Music, a Post-Graduate Degree in Pedagogy, and a Superior Diploma in Modern Cello Performance. In addition to her solo and chamber musicianship, Guadalupe is currently a Post-Doctoral Researcher and teacher at the Sibelius Academy, member of the board of directors of the Spanish Association for Psychology of Music and Musical Performance, and professional blogger at the University of the Arts Helsinki. Guadalupe has been advised by cello masters such as Markku Luolajan-Mikkola, David Watkin, Wieland Kuijken, Werner Matzke, Philippe Müller, Martti Rousi, Alison McGillivray, Kristin von der Goltz, Rafael Ramos and Alban Gerhardt, among others. She has appeared as a soloist at the Fabulous Fringe concert series of the Utrecht Early Music Festival (NL), the Bergheim Cello Solo Festival (DE), the BRQ Vantaa Festival (FI), the Soiva Akatemia Festival (FI), and SibaFest (FI). Upcoming engagements include Classical-Romantic music for cello and fortepiano at key venues in Europe, and solo recitals with the violoncello piccolo in Spain. Guadalupe has been recently selected as artist for Mediaset TV and Iberia. In the field of research, she presents her work regularly at international congresses and has been published in renowned journals such as Cognition and Instruction, British Journal of Educational Psychology, Teaching and Teacher Education, and Psychology of Music. She is currently conducting an autoethnographic research project (generously funded by Kone Foundation, Helsinki) studying the variation works for fortepiano and cello by Beethoven and Mendelssohn by combining the multidisciplinary perspectives of psychology, musicology and performance. Her PhD, carried out under the supervision of Prof. Juan Ignacio Pozo, focused on the analysis of the psychological processes in the acquisition of musical knowledge in instrument players, teachers and students of string instruments, particularly from constructivist perspectives.
Anna Maria McElwain
Finnish-born Anna Maria McElwain studied at the Turku Consevatory with Elzbieta Guzek, and later at the State University of New York at Buffalo with Dr Stephen Manes. At the age of 21 she had already completed a Master of Music degree in piano performance and a Master of Arts degree in music theory. In her theoretical studies she specialized in the musical meaning of the Massoretic signs of the Hebrew Bible. In the last decade Anna Maria specialized in the clavichord studying it with Dr Pekka Vapaavuori. She was the second person to complete a Master of Music degree in clavichord performance at Sibelius Academy. Anna Maria taught at the Sibelius Academy Kuopio department until 2010 and currently focuses on performing, mainly as a clavichordist. She has performed in the United States and in Europe (Finland, Estonia, Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands, Germany, Hungary, Spain, Italy, and Austria). She is the co-founder of the Nordic Historical Keyboard Festival (2012–present), and the founder of the First International Clavichord Competition (2014). Anna Maria has explored the limits of the clavichord with later repertoire. She wrote a study on “The Clavichordist's View on the Chopin Preludes”, which compares the possibilities of the Swedish clavichords with German models. Anna Maria's solo recording "Hours Well Spent" on an 1808 Lindholm clavichord at Nydahl Collection in Stockholm came out in November 2013 (Robert Holmin Ljud&Bild), and is the first ever recording of Beethoven on the clavichord. Her second recording was released in May 2015 featuring music of Fux, Johnsen, Lithander, and Beethoven. Anna Maria has received grants from various foundations in Finland, as well as a Kuopio Stipend in November 2013 from the City of Kuopio for her artistic achievements.
Thomas McElwain (1949) is a resident of Kuopio originally from the United States. He studied Comparative Religion with Professor Åke Hultkrantz getting his PhD in 1979. He has been a Docent of the University of Stockholm since 1981. His work focuses on the Middle East and the mythology of Native Americans and he has published several books and articles. In 2010 he completed his monumental work, The Beloved and I, which is a translation and commentary of the Bible and the Qur'an in verse.
Austrian pianist Albert Mühlböck is internationally successful and has played with orchestras and as a soloist in many European countries, as well as in Asia (China, Taiwan, Vietnam and Japan) and North America (USA and Mexico). Highlights of his many concerts were performances at the Vienna Musikverein, Vienna Konzerthaus, Brucknerhaus Linz, National Concert Hall Taipei, Beijing Concert Hall and the Steinway Hall in New York City. He performed with the Bruckner Orchestra Linz, National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra, Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra in China and the CCM Philhamonia Orchestra in the USA. Albert Mühlböck also won prizes in competitions in Austria, France, Italy and the USA. He made radio and CD recordings, among others, with works by Schubert, Liszt, Rachmaninoff and Chopin. Albert Mühlböck studied piano and piano pedagogy at the Anton Bruckner Private University in Linz, at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna and at the College Conservatory for Music in Cincinnati (USA), where he graduated with his doctoral degree in piano performance. Albert Mühlböck has devoted himself not only to the usual repertoire, but also to ancient keyboard music (he wrote his dissertation is on the clavichord, an early precursor of the piano). He also has experience with contemporary music, as a recently published CD with trombonist Tim Anderson and lecture-recitals on Boulez's Third Piano Sonata show.
Riikka Puumalainen was born in Kuopio. She graduated as a dancer from Turku Conservatory. Nowadays she works as a dancer and in the team of artistic leaders of Dance Theatre Minimi in Kuopio. Before Minimi she was a freelance dancer in Helsinki working with several choreographers and directors. Riikka has strong and versatile skills in performing arts and especially in contemporary dance. In Minimi she is happy to get to work with such a wide range of choreographic and theatrical work that the company creates. She gets to dive in to the different aesthetic worlds of dance and theatre, tradition and modern life with the frontline of the artists in Finland. Off duty she is practising regularly ashtanga yoga, challenging herself as a mother to two little daughters and spending time with outdoor sports as much as possible.
Reet Sukk got her primary music education at Viljandi Music School during which time she played in the oldest Early Music ensemble, the Viljandi Linnakapell. The artistic director of the ensemble, Tõnu Sepp, inspired her to continue deeper into Early Music. Viljandi Early Music Days also served as an inspiration. Sukk studied at Tallinn Conservatory and later at the Royal Conservatory in the Hague in the Baroque flute class of Wilbert Hazelzet and recorder class of Jeanette van Wingerden. After returning to Estonia Sukk has been active in the Early Music studio Cantores Vagantes with Taavi-Mats Utt. She has also been involved in various other Early Music projects and performed as a soloist of orchestras. In 2002 she made a CD of music from the first half of the 17th century. In 2013 another CD with music of the Rococo period from the Nordic Countries was published. It was recorded on an original late 18th century flute and included music of Roman, Müthel, Tromlitz etc. In recent years Rukk along with the recorder ensemble of Cantores Vagantes has performed recorder music from the Renaissance period. This resulted in a CD which was released in 2015 of Christmas music from the 16th century. Besides performing Sukk also teaches at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theater and at the Georg Ots music school. She is one of the founding members of the ERTA-Estonia and participates regularly in the training of recorder teachers.
Taavi-Mats Utt began his musical studies privately with composer Heino Jürisalu. This was followed by oboe studies in Tallinn's Georg Ots music school. During this time Taavi-Mats played the recorder in serveral Early Music ensembles, such as Viljandi Linnakapell and Consortium, as well as the Linnamuusikud of Tallinn directed by Taivo Niitvägi. In 1989 the Early Music Studio Cantores Vagantes was founded with Utt as its founding member. Since that time it has been his main "creative laboratory". As it was not possible to study the recorder professionally in Estonia, Utt attended a large number of courses over the years. He had the opportunity to study in the Royal Conservatory of Hague in the recorder class of Jeanette van Wingerden and received a diploma from the institution in Early Music Pedagogy. Concerts at the St. Petersburg Museum of Theater and Music ignited a deep interest in historical woodwind instruments and building copies to their model. Practical results of this work can be heard in the instruments used by studio Cantores Vagantes. Instruments by Utt are used increasingly outside of Estonia. Utt is also active in teaching the recorder. In addition to Cantores Vagantes he has taugh at the Georg Ots music school in Tallinn, at the Viljandi Culture Academy and at the University of Tallinn. In 2001 he participated in founding the ERTA-Estonia recorder society and is still an active member. He has given courses and training to recorder teachers.
Wim Winters (1972) studied eight years at the Sweelinck Conservatory of Amsterdam, with Jacques van Oortmerssen (organ) and Willem Brons (piano). After having devoted much of his time to the organ and the 19th century piano, today he focuses on the performance of music from Bach to Beethoven upon his 2009 Potvlieghe unfretted clavichord in the Saxon style. A copy of a 6 octave Fritz pianoforte (also created in the Potvlieghe workshop) will be added to the clavichord in 2017. Upon delivery, he will begin the work of recording all of Beethoven’s keyboard works.
In 2014, Wim started a new YouTube channel "Authentic Sound", dedicated to the (basically) keyboard music from Bach to Beethoven. Today, he reaches over 30.000 people a month with music recordings, lectures related to the music and regular live streams. As the channel grew, Authentic Sound Records was born in 2016. This year, the new label will release the recording of all Bach Keyboard Partitas, not only on CD, but in a luxurious vinyl box, with artwork, and articles related to the recording.
The early keyboardist, Zsombor Tóth-Vajna is one of the leading figures of the young early musician generation in Hungary. He studied harpsichord at the Ferenc Liszt Academy of Music with Miklós Spányi, where he graduated with the highest honours, and organ at the University of Miskolc. He continued his studies at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam with Menno van Delft and Richard Egarr. Here he was the very last master organ student of the legendary Jacques van Oortmerssen. He also holds a degree in medicine from the Semmelweis University, Budapest, where he is currently undertaking PhD research on the effects of music therapy. He was awarded the Kerpel-Fronius prize in 2013 and participated in the “50 most talented young Hungarians” programme, receiving a “National Talents Scholarship” from the Hungarian Government in 2015. He is also one of the junior fellows of the Hungarian Templeton Programme. He has performed across Europe and the USA as a keyboard soloist as well as playing with and conducting chamber groups and orchestras. He has been artistic director of the Hungarian baroque orchestra Harmonia Caelestis in Budapest since its foundation in 2015, and was the founder of Piano e Forte Duo with his twin brother, conductor and pianist, Gergely.