Sonja Fräki (born 1977 in Helsinki) is an actively performing concert pianist. She is also an experienced and sought after accompanist and chamber musician. Fräki studied at the Sibelius Academy and graduated as Master of Music 2003. She also studied in Germany at the postgraduate study programme called Konzertexamen in Karlsruhe and graduated 2004 with highest marks.
2008 Fräki won the 3rd Prize at the International Liszt Piano competition in Wroclaw, Poland. She was the winner of 4th Prize at the International Schubert Competition in Dortmund 2003. In Dortmund she also received a special prize for the best performance of Schubert late sonata in the semi-finals.
Fräki has performed as a soloist with various orchestras, for example Lahti Symphony Orchestra, Turku Philharmonic Orchestra, Pomeranian Philharmonic Orchestra and Neue Philharmonie Westfalen. She plays a lot of chamber music with the violinist AnnemarieÅström and with Zagros Ensemble, among others. Fräki has given recitals and chamber music concerts in Finland, Sweden, Germany, Portugal, Russia, in the Netherlands and Italy. She has also made several recordings for the Finnish Radio Broadcasting Company YLE.
Fräki works as an accompanist at the Sibelius Academy and at the Juvenalia Music Institute. She is also working on her Doctoral studies at the Sibelius Academy, her focus being on the piano music by Kalevi Aho.
Naoko Ichihashi graduated from the Toho Music Academy in Tokyo in 1981 and went on to study with György Sebök at the University of Indiana. In the Tchaikovsky Competition in 1986, she received an award for best accompanist.
Ichihashi joined the Avanti! Chamber Orchestra in 1987 and also began to teach at the Sibelius Academy. In 1991–1992, she studied in Paris, completing the Licence de concert diploma. She has been a piano and chamber music teacher at the Metropolia University of Applied Arts in Helsinki since 2007.
She is an active and respected chamber music pianist and performs regularly at festivals and competitions.
(c) Sakari Majantie
Pianist Raija Kerppo began her studies at the Turku Conservatory and went on to study with Professor Erik T. Tawaststjerna at the Sibelius Academy. She studied further with Martin Canin at the Juilliard School in New York.
Raija Kerppo has numerous merits from competitions in Finland and abroad, including 1st prize in the Maj Lind Piano Competition 1986 and a high placement in a Nordic piano competition in Denmark in 1989. Raija Kerppo has appeared with a number of Finnish orchestras, including the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Ostrobothnia Chamber Orchestra, Sinfonia Lahti and the Turku Philharmonic, and also with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Camerata Academica in Salzburg and the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Berlin. She has given recitals in Finland and for instance at the Tivoli in Copenhagen, and she has also appeared at chamber music festivals for instance in Kuhmo and at Tuusulanjärvi lake.
Her performing partners have included violinists Kaija Saarikettu and Pekka Kuusisto, with whom she has appeared in Bergen, London (Wigmore Hall), Paris (Châtelet), Ravinia (Chicago) and Bremen besides performances in Finland. Raija Kerppo’s recording of Selim Palmgren’s Piano Concerto no. 5 with the Turku Philharmonic was given the Best Finnish Recording of the Year award by the Finnish Broadcasting Company in 1990. Her two discs with Pekka Kuusisto, Strings attached and Double Bow, have been well received by critics at home and abroad.
Timo Koskinen (b. 1965) has two musical cornerstones: the teaching based on the Polish piano playing tradition given by his first teacher Michal Zieliński for eight years at the Helsinki Conservatory, and his work as a chamber pianist at the Sibelius Academy since 1993. Before his début recital in Helsinki in 1990 he also studied at the Sibelius Academy and the Chopin Academy in Warsaw, his teachers including Liisa Pohjola, Erik T. Tawaststjerna and Andrej Stefanski.
Timo Koskinen has given recitals in Finland and several countries in central Europe. He is also known as a competition accompanist at home and abroad. He has also himself entered piano competitions, winning 1st prize in the Ilmari Hannikainen Piano Competition in 1978 in the series of under age of 16 years and 2nd prize in the Maj Lind Piano Competition in 1988.
Juhani Lagerspetz (b. 1959) began studying the piano at age six at the Turku Conservatory. He continued his studies at the Sibelius Academy and the Leningrad (now St.Petersburg) Conservatory in Russia. Lagerspetz made his debut as soloist at the age of thirteen, playing Shostakovich's Second Piano Concerto with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra.
Juhani Lagerspetz has won competitions in Finland (the Ilmari Hannikainen piano competition in 1975 and the Maj Lind Competition in 1976) and placed well in international competitions too, his most significant achievement being special prize of the jury at the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow in 1982. His success has led him to perform in Scandinavia, Europe, Japan, Russia, the USA, South Korea, Chile and Brazil. He is also active as a chamber musician, he has taken part in numerous chamber music festivals (Vienna, Flanders, Mondsee, Kreuth, St. Nazaire, Kitakyushu, Delft, Stavanger, Esbjerg etc.). In Finland he appears regularly at the Kuhmo and Naantali music festivals. In spring 1993, Lagerspetz received glowing reviews for his recital at the Wigmore Hall in London.
Juhani Lagerspetz has collaborated with many conductors, such as Arvid Jansons, Sixten Ehrling, Rudolf Barshai, Paavo Berglund, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Leif Segerstam among others. He has performed with the instrumentalists Barry Tuckwell, Ida Haendel, Arto Noras and Truls Mørk, and with the singers Elisabeth Söderström, Stephen Genz and Camilla Nylund, to mention a few. Lagerspetz is also a tenured teacher in piano at the Sibelius Academy. He has twice received the five-year artist's grant from the Finnish Government (1989 and 1996). Juhani Lagerspetz has performed dozens of piano concertos and extensive series of concert programs such as the four Rachmaninov piano concertos on two consecutive evenings or works by Beethoven, Brahms and Ravel. Lagerspetz has premiered the piano concertos by Erik Bergman, Jouni Kaipainen, Jukka Tiensuu and Paavo Heininen (Piano Concerto No. 4). He has made numerous recordings for radio and for record companies. In 1994, Lagerspetz was awarded the Alfred Kordelin Foundation Prize for his merits as a performing artist. In 2009 he was appointed as one of the two piano professors of the Sibelius Academy.