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Liina Leijala, Piano
At the very beginning, Liina Leijala was encouraged to play violin, the same instrument as her twin sister. But she recalls that the violin just didn't fit her. When she switched to the cello, Liina says her talent began to develop more naturally. Today, Liina is the only professional musician in her family. Other family members are pursuing careers in psychology, mathematics, economics, medicine, and linguistics.
Liina was awarded her master's degree in music from the Sibelius Academy in January 2012. She believes that the Sibelius Academy's success in identifying young musicians with real passion and talent is at the root of the Academy's prestige.
"The keys for future success are found in devoted work with great professors and the fact that one has a lot of time to practice while being at the Sibelius Academy," she adds.
Currently, Liina is pursuing post-graduate studies at the University of Music and Performing Arts, Vienna, Austria.
Liina's aspirations as a professional musician are to excel at the highest possible level in solo and chamber music performance, and perhaps later on she'll concentrate on conducting.
"I also love the fact that as a musician I meet many types of people," Liina says, adding that recently she has discovered that sharing her thoughts with young musicians is interesting her more and more.
Somehow, Liina says, she has always met the right teacher at the right time. And it has been crucial to her growth as a musician that she has felt very accepted with all her teachers.
"In the beginning of more serious playing, I very much needed technical advice and a confirmatory feeling that my ideas can fit in the music world," she explains. "Later on, I had great talks with, my teachers about how everything that we know is connected to everything."
Happiness is shared, says one famous writer. Similarly, Liina believes that one side of music is also to be shared. The other side of music-making, she believes, is a hedonistic joy.
"The unique character of performing music is what I like the most about it: you show your inner view to yourself and others," Liina reflects.
For Liina, music plays many roles depending on how one examines it. Music describes culture, history, and society, for example.
"The most definite thing I can say about music is that it's connected to different human feelings in different situations," she says. "For instance, a simple melancholic folksong gives so much information about the general feeling of the very moment that it was created."
When not making music, Liina enjoys reading, painting, and, recently, watching The X-Files television show. "I also like not to do anything," she adds. "Just to think is wonderful."
Liina says of a past performance in Los Angeles and that "it was a lovely change to get to know more of America, and play to Americans." She adds that she is especially looking forward to the communication with Chicago and Copper Country audiences.
Pauli Jämsä, Piano
For Pauli Jamsa and his family, music is a natural part of everyday life. He was five or six six years old when he started to play piano with the guidance of his mother, who is a music teacher. "My older sister played violin, so I was put at the
piano," he recalls, "which later on turned out to be wise, as with my father we were then able to form a piano trio."
Pauli's father plays violoncello in an orchestra, and from an early age Pauli often accompanied him to concerts. "Of course, it was always inspiring for a piano-playing youngster to see all the international stars on stage and meet them personally in the artists' room," Pauli says.
Pauli's father recently was awarded a medal for having played for 25 years in the same orchestra. His mother is a passionate choir singer, and Pauli's parents have performed togehter many times.
"It seems that everyone in our family is taking steps in the same direction," Pauli says. One of his siblings already plays in an orchestra, and other siblings have plans to apply for musical studies.
When he was accepted into the Sibelius Academy youth deparmtent in 2006 Pauli became certain that he had chosen the right path in his life. Now he studies in the solositic department at the Academy. "My graduation date is far in the future, since I am studying simultaneously at the University of Vienna, in Austria," Pauli notes.
"Chamber music is something I would like to do as much as possible in the future," Pauli says of his career plans. "On the other hand, opera is one of my passions." He can also see himself working as a correpetitor in a Central European opera house. "One of my secret dreams is one day to become an opera conductor."
The professional life of a pianist is often a lonely one, Pauli reflects, but each time he performs on stage it is a joy.
"The great pleasure in playing chamber music is the possibility of sharing the music-not only with the audience, but also with colleagues," Pauli explains. "It's about giving and getting impulses."
"It is inspiring to share the magic of music. Perhaps the best moments are when one has a feeling of achieving a mysterious connection with one's ensemble partners," he says.
But playing in an ensemble comes with challenges, too. "When you put together two or more different personalities, who then should find a kind of unity in what they are doing, it demands compromises, indeed," he says.
Pauli notes that in a way, music is an abstract language.
"You can't touch it or see it, but it can express universal things and emotions that are beyond other arts," he says. "Music directly reaches one's emotions and it can affect people deeply, and even concretely, giving energy, joy, and strength when depressed."
Pauli often attends concerts and the opera-when he's not practicing or performing himself! He also enjoys reading and learning languages. In the summer, he likes to go fishing or play football. This is his first visit to the U.S.