Classical Duo Annika Lumi and Maarja Plink
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Classical Duo Annika Lumi, Soprano, and Maarja Plink, Pianist

Since 2009, Estonians Annika Lumi and Maarja Plink have performed together at concerts in Finland, Estonia, and Berlin, Germany. The duo specializes in Nordic compositions, but their program also includes solemn classical music (Lied, opera arias) and spiritual music.

Maarja Plink notes that playing in a duo is a big challenge. She explains that "breathing together, thinking together, feeling together ... it's a communication between two people. You have to react very quickly until finally there are not two people anymore-they have become ONE."

Annika, also inspired by performing in a duo, says, "The two musicians are equal partners. "It is inspirational to receive impulses from the piano, while the pianist also gets them from me. It's challenging to breathe and think as a one person. We must feel the pieces in same way."

Annika Lumi, Soprano

Annika LumiSoprano Annika Lumi, a native of Estonia, began her singing studies at the Music Academy of Estonia in 2002. In 2005 she was accepted to the Sibelius Academy Department of Vocal Music, and since 2008 she has been pursuing a master of music degree in opera performance, opera singing, Lied, and oratorio music.

Annika says her mother inspired her to study music and she started playing the piano at age six. Following high school she decided to study classical singing after winning a classical- lied competition in Estonia.

"It's very interesting to be musician," Annika notes. "There is no routine; all the time I have to learn something new. I feel alive doing that."

Annika will complete her master's degree in spring 2012. "The Sibelius Academy is one of the largest music universities in Europe and offers the highest level of music education, including post-graduate studies," she says. "The most important thing for me is that I'll get very good music education from the Sibelius Academy, where I have opportunities to study opera singing, baroque singing, Lied-singing, and vocal pedagogy. These all will give me a good base for my career."

"There are many ways to have a job as a singer," Annika notes. "Most of all I like to sing and perform, but voice isn´t always the most important thing. You must be in good shape, technically correct, good looking, and you have to sell yourself."

Annika says that the best vocal teacher she has studied with is Marjut Hannula.

"She has taught me a lot, and especially good vocal technique," Annika says of Marjut Hannula. "Without good vocal technique, it is quite hard to survive as a singer. Vocal technique helps you feel that singing is easy and you can express yourself musically more fully."

Public performances are always challenging and Annika enjoys playing different roles. She recalls a particularly memorable performance singing the role of Ginevra in Händel's opera "Ariodante."

"We had a fantastic producer who had phenomenal ideas for the entire three hour, 45 minute opera," she explains. "The role was psychically very hard for me, and sometimes I cried after a performance because it was so touching and I had to provide so much from myself. But I felt so good in this role; I love baroque music and I learned so many new things about myself."

Annika feels that music is one of the most important things in our lives. "Actually, everything is music. You must only listen," she says. "Music is therapy, beauty, quietness, loudness, emotion, feeling, air, imagination, and LOVE! When one is enjoying music, everything is fine!"

In 2008 Annika was a semi-finalist in the Con Brio music competition; she received third prize in the 2007 Mart Saar Lied competition; and in 2005 was awarded second prize in the Henrik Krumm Young Singers Competition, all in her homeland of Estonia. She placed first in the 2001 Kerttu Piirtoga Juvenalia-Chamber Music Competition in Espoo, Finland.

As a soprano soloist, Annika has performed in Finland, Estonia, Australia, and the United States, singing compositions by J.S. Bach and G.F. Händel, in particular. Her opera roles include Barbarina in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro (Pori Opera, Finland, 2005); Valencienne in Lehar's Die lustige Witwe (The Merry Widow) ( Siba opera, Finland, 2008); Ginevra in Händel's Ariodante (Siba opera, Finland 2009); and Eleanor in Rautavaara's The house of the sun" (Siba opera, Finland and Austin, Texas 2009). She has presented numerous Lied recitals in Finland, Estonia, the United States, and Australia.

Annika enjoys cooking, entertaining, decorating her home, and taking good care of her husband. "Oh, I'm a real housewife when I'm not performing or practicing!" she says. Annika also loves to travel.

Annika's husband is also a trained singer, but he now works in the tourism industry. "We sing very often together and we have performed as an operetta-duo in many concerts in the U.S.A., Australia, Finland, and Estonia," Annika says.

"He understands the life of a musician very well," Annika says of her husband. "He supports me a lot."

Annika is looking forward to the new challenges she will experience while performing as part of this year's Sibelius Academy Music Festival. "And it's a good opportunity perform Nordic music in the U.S.A., and especially Finnish music."

Annika performed in the U.S. in 2006 and 2009 in states including New York, Washington, Maryland, and Texas.

"I am most looking forward to a fantastic audience and nice, happy people all around," Annika concludes. "It's what I experience every time I visit the U.S.A."
Annika Lumi and Maarja Plink

Maarja Plink, Pianist

Maarja PlinkMaarja Plink completed a master's of music degree in piano at the Sibelius Academy in 2009, supplementing her studies at the Berlin Hanns Eisler Music Academy in 2007 and 2008. She has also attended a number of international master classes.

In the 2009-2010 academic year, Maarja worked as a piano teacher in Kotka, a small city in southern Finland. "I enjoyed teaching very much," she says. "But I felt that something was missing,"

As a pianist, Maarja has worked with singers for many years. She is also interested in opera music, so she decided to apply to the Sibelius Academy Vocal Department and continue her education.

Now, vocal coaching and accompaniment is the focus of Maarja's education. She is studying to become a correpetitor (a vocal coach and accompanist), which Marrja says has completely changed her life.

"I didn't know that pianists can do so many things!" she says of her correpetitor studies. "It's not just playing the piano anymore. I'm also studying singing, languages, conducting, and acting. My days are very long, but never the same. It's very interesting and I'm happy about my decision to study a bit more. I really love it!"

This past summer, Maarja got some hands-on experience in her new field, working as a vocal coach assistant and correpetitor at the Savonlinna (Finland) Opera Music Festival.

Maarja was born in Estonia and began her piano studies there. When she was eight years old, she and her family moved to Finland. Maarja's father is a pianist and her brother plays the cello. Her mother is a doctor.

"Music has always been there, so I always knew what I wanted to do: I wanted to become a pianist!" Maarja says. "My whole family has been very supportive and I feel that I've been lucky."

Following high school, Maarja moved to Helsinki and began her advanced studies at the Sibelius Academy.

"I've had many teachers in my life," Maarja notes. "But I think one of the most important was Professor Matti Raekallio, who now works as a professor at the Juilliard School of Music, New York. He was very demanding but positive, and working with him was detailed and productive. I'm very thankful that I had an opportunity to study with him."

Maarja has performed in Finland, Estonia, and Germany with orchestras including the Kouvola City Orchestra, the Kymi Sinfoniettaga, and the PKMO Symphony Orchestra.

She won the first prize at the Juvenalia chamber music competition in 2001, and she has performed as soloist with Kouvola City Orchestra, Kymi Sinfonietta, and PKMO Symphony Orchestra.

 

Maarja recalls in particular an orchestra performances for which she played the second piano concerto of Rachmaninov. "Such a beautiful concerto, such a great experience!" she says of that memory. "Those kinds of moments are the ones you remember the rest of your life!"

Maarja loves to make music with others; she loves to play chamber music, and she loves accompany singers. Her days are very long, but she says that she likes to work a lot. In her free time she enjoys reading and nature.

"And I love travelling!" she adds. "This is my first time to visit U.S.A. and I'm looking forward it! I'm sure it will be a great experienc