The Junior Competition Jury

Atso Almila

Atso Almila

Atso Almila was born in 1953 in Helsinki, Finland, and presently lives in Kuopio. He studied trombone with Olavi Lampinen and orchestral conducting with Professor Jorma Panula at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, graduating in orchestral conducting in 1979.

Almila has been the conductor of various outstanding Finnish choirs and was the musical director of the National Theatre of Finland between 1982 and 1995. He was principal conductor of the Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra between 1987-1989 and professor of orchestral conducting at the Sibelius Academy of the University of Arts in Helsinki 2013-2019 until his retirement. From 1995-2000 Almila was principal conductor of the Joensuu Orchestra, continuing with Joensuu again from 2010, first as artistic advisor and 2011-

2013 as principal conductor; 1995-2000 he acted as the artistic director of the Kuopio Symphony Orchestra and again from 2007 as second conductor.

Almila has worked as a conductor mainly in Finland and Sweden as well as touring with Europe’s youth philharmonics. He has conducted several opera productions at the Finnish National Opera and elsewhere in Finland and is renowned for his ability in big cross-over productions. Almila has composed seven operas, five symphonies, numerous concertos, chamber music for brass and other ensembles and music for theatre and film. He has also conducted various recordings for TV, film, and radio.

Jukka Iisakkila

Jukka Iisakkila

Finnish conductor Jukka Iisakkila’s versatility and skill have taken him to symphony orchestras, chamber orchestras, contemporary ensembles, rock arenas and innovative music clubs throughout Europe and beyond.

A regular guest with all the Finnish orchestras and many of the leading ensembles in Scandinavia, Jukka was Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of Pori Sinfonietta from 2004 to 2012. He works regularly with the Turku Philharmonic, Oulu Symphony and Tapiola Sinfonietta in Finland and with the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra in Norway. He has enjoyed close associations with the Danish Radio Sinfonietta and the Nagoya Philharmonic in Japan. Jukka conducts the Metropole Orchestra in Holland in contemporary crossover projects and is Professor of Conducting at the Stavanger University in Norway.

Jukka is known for his affinity with contemporary music and crossover styles and has close links with many of today’s foremost composers. His recording with the Metropole Orchestra and the Swiss metal band Triptycon “Requiem” was a European bestseller in 2020. He enjoys ongoing relationships with composer and guitarist Steve Vai and has worked with Iro Haarla, Trygve Seim and the groups Indians and Rumpistol. Jukka is himself a composer and arranger and has performed as an instrumentalist in Europe, in which capacity he will tour in Scandinavia, Asia and the United States in 2022-23.

Jukka Iisakkila is the recipient of many major awards including the Royal Music Academy Award in Sweden 2006 and Finnish Culture Foundation award for achievements the field of conducting. Jukka Iisakkila won the First Prize in the Helsingborg Nordic Conducting competition and the Third Prize in international Jorma Panula Conducting competition.

Since 2003 he has been the Artistic Director and founder of one of the most innovative and artistically rich and praised music festivals in Scandinavia, the Saaksmaki Sounds -music festival.

Jukka Iisakkila graduated from the orchestral conducting diploma class at Royal Academy of Music, Stockholm, after studies with the world renowned Professor Jorma Panula. Besides Professor Jorma Panula his most important teachers have been Martyn Brabbins, Esa-Pekka Salonen and Alan Gilbert.

Jukka has fulfilled his studies in Italy and with composers such as György Kúrtag and Peter Eötvös.

Jukka Iisakkila studied percussion, piano and jazz /electric guitar first at the Tampere Conservatory of Music. He then finished his performance diplomas, Masters degree, at the Royal Danish Academy of Music and at the Royal Swedish Academy of Music. Still in his early age he also completed his studies at the University of Central Finland with a Master of Arts degree both in musicology and composition.

Ville Mankkinen

Ville Mankkinen

Ville Mankkinen is conductor and artistic director of Wasa Sinfonietta, founding member of The Panula Academy and founding member of FIRSC Festival.

In Finland, Estonia and Brazil Mankkinen has made guest appearances with the Orquestra Sinfônica de Americana, Kirkkonummi Chamber Orchestra, Symphony Orchestra of Estonian Academy of Music and performed with artists like Juha Uusitalo, Alvaro Henrique, Rogerio Wolf, Alessandro Borgomanero, Rubens de Oliveira, Mika Nisula, Jouni Kokora, Juhani Romppanen, Petri Kumela, Tonu Reimann and Teet Järvi.

Ville Mankkinen studied violin and viola first in Finland and later conducting at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre, taught by Toomas Kapten. He has been tutored at the international conducting master classes by, among others, Jorma Panula, Sergio Chnee, Martti Tiainen and Mark Stringer.

He has received stipendiums from Finnish Cultural Foundations South Ostrobotnia Regional Fund, Vuorio-Foundation and Svenska Kulturfonden. He has won the Demetrio Kipman-reward two times at the Festival Música das Esferas.


Monica Johnson
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