Double bass student Venla Lahti: In EUYO you get experience in being an orchestra musician before working in a professional orchestra

Venla Lahti is a double bass student at the Sibelius ACademt and a member of the European Union Youth Orchestra.

Venla Lahti

Who are you and how did you end up in studying at the Sibelius Academy and playing in the EUYO orchestra?  

I’m Venla Lahti, a Finnish double bassist, studying at Sibelius Academy. I started my studies in the Sibelius Junior Academy in 2017 and last fall continued to study here for my Bachelor’s degree. I’m also a member of EUYO, the European Union Youth Orchestra, since 2020. When I first heard about the orchestra and looked into their concert recordings on Youtube, I immediately knew that someday I wanted to be there. I participated in the next audition they held in Helsinki and was over the moon to be accepted on my first try.

What motivated you to study to be a professional musician?  

We most definitely have the best double bass class in the world at the Sibelius Academy. We are all friends with each other and always help each other out. It’s nice to know that I can turn to any of my double bass colleagues if I have anything on my mind. And I believe that this applies to all other instruments. Music is such a competitive career and here everyone of course takes their studies seriously. But other students are also your friends and are here to support you, they are not just your competitors. I think that’s a very Finnish thing. It’s in our nature to try and help out anyone we can.

For music or any other art career, you need to have a passion for it. Something to get you to pick up the same instrument almost every day of your life. It has to make you feel something special. And that’s what music does to me. A feeling I can’t get from anywhere else.

What motivated you to apply to the EUYO orchestra? What has been the most valuable thing you have gained from it so far? 

Energy and passion are something that has always stood out for me in EUYO, you can sense it even from the videos online. And of course, the level of playing is amazing. Another thing that motivated me to apply was expectations of how this orchestra would benefit my career in the long run. The tours are an excellent opportunity to get to know musicians all over the world, with some of them you might end up working in your future. Even though we are a youth orchestra the level is the same as a professional orchestra. And who wouldn’t want to experience that? You learn so much alone from your colleagues, and to add to that, the amazing sectional tutors and some of the world’s best conductors, who come to work with us. It’s just a great place to get in touch with being an orchestra musician, before getting a permanent job in a professional orchestra.

Knowing what you now know about playing in an international orchestra, how do you see your studies at SibA have prepared you for these kinds of activities?  

I started playing in the Sibelius Academy Symphony Orchestra while still in the Sibelius Junior Academy, as there were not enough bassists for the orchestra at that time. I think that experience really is the biggest reason why I’m now able to tour with a distinguished international youth orchestra. Of course, I had played in a music institution youth orchestra before coming to SibA. But here I really started learning about being a double bassist in a symphony orchestra. Same as with EUYO, I learned so much from my colleagues, sectional tutors, and the conductors. Things like what kind of sound sounds good in a big double bass section, how to prepare for a rehearsal period with only pieces you haven’t played or even heard of before, how to work as a big group in a section but also as a whole orchestra. And the list goes on. These kinds of things you need to have some kind of understanding of when applying for EUYO or any other international youth orchestra. Needless to say, you don’t have to and you can’t know everything about being an orchestra musician. But you need to have some kind of foundation to build your knowledge upon when you go on tour with an international orchestra. And without SibA I wouldn’t have that.

How would you advise someone planning on joining the EUYO or a similar youth orchestra? 

I encourage everyone to play in a symphony orchestra as much as they can. There you can learn the most. But to get to an orchestra you need to play an audition. And for that, I think my biggest tip is to learn your excerpts but also learn what happens in the other instruments of the orchestra at the same time. Find a full score of the piece and listen to a recording with it. That way you understand so much more about the music and phrasing etc. You need to understand the bigger picture, not just your own part. Our conductors and tutors tell us this all the time here on tour.

What does internationality mean to you as a student and have you been supported towards it in your studies? 

In the Sibelius Academy us students are encouraged by all of our teachers to discover other paths as well if you feel like orchestra playing isn’t your thing. We have so many options for courses, so there is certainly something for everyone. Everyone around you wants to make your studies as helpful for your future career as possible. In the future, I dream of working in an orchestra. Hopefully in Finland, as I love my home country so much. But who knows. As long as I’m able to play, I’m happy.

Venla Lahti is a member of the EUYO orchestra, which is giving a concert Europe side by side in Helsinki on 2 April 2022. She is also giving a presentation at the Eu­rope’s Young Mu­si­cians and Dancers Speak about Cul­ture event on 2 April.