Born in the United States 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 that time, her career has continued to expand on international stages, 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).
Season highlights for 2017/18 include debuts with the Orchestre National de Lyon, Polish National Radio Orchestra, Singapore Symphony and Royal Stockholm Philharmonic and performances with the Finnish Radio Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, Lahti Symphony, Shenzhen and Quingdao Symphony Orchestras, Niederrheinische Symphony and the Seoul International Music Festival. Recent appearances include highly succesful debuts with RTÉ National Symphony, Yomiuri Nippon Symphony, Strasbourg Philharmonic and Gävle Symphony and performances with Helsinki Philharmonic, NorrlandsOperan Symphony, Detroit Symphony, Houston Symphony and Buffalo Philharmonic orchestras.
Elina Vähälä’s international orchestral appearances include the Helsinki Philharmonic, Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Sinfonia Lahti, and Turku Philharmonic. On the North American continent she has performed with the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra and Oregon and Nashville symphony orchestras. She has worked with conductors Leonard Slatkin, Carlos Kalmar, Jukka-Pekka Saraste, Okko Kamu, Jakob Hrusa, Thierry Fischer and Leif Sergerstam, and has 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 concerts throughout Finland with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, performing the early version of Sibelius' Violin Concerto; with the Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra; a tour with Lahti Symphony Orchestra, giving concerts in Vienna and Salzburg; and a return to North America performing with the Buffalo Philharmonic and Colorado Symphony orchestras. She also made her debut with the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra in Japan and with the Strasbourg Philharmonic Orchestra, performing the Corigliano violin concerto, The Red Violin, with conductor Jeffrey Tate. Other highlights include performances with Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra and numerous orchestras throughout Finland, performances with the Detroit Symphony, a tour of the United States with the Festival Pablo Casals Prades Collective, a debut with the Gävle Symphony Orchestra of Sweden, and a week of concerts as part of the Clandeboye Music Festival in Belfast, performing with Barry Douglas.
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 Nordic premiere of John Corigliano’s The Red Violin, and commissioned Jaakko Kuusisto’s violin concerto. She has recorded both the Corgiliano and Kuusisto concertos for the BIS label. 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.
A devoted chamber musician, Elina Vähälä performs with Andras Adorjan, Yuri Bashmet, Ana Chumachenco, Chee-Yun, Peter Csaba, Itamar Golan, Ralf Gothóni, Ivry Gitlis, Bruno Giuranna, Gary Hoffman, Steven Isserlis, Frans Helmerson, Cho-Liang Lin, Adam Neiman, Arto Noras, Jean-Yves Thibaudet and Alisa Weilerstein.