Do you dream of conducting an orchestra or a choir? The Sibelius Academy offers you a unique opportunity to study orchestra, wind orchestra or choir conducting at the highest international level. Working with a trainee orchestra and a professional choir will give you the best possible tools for your professional career and development.
In a nutshell
- Target degree: bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music, master’s degree in music
- Scope of the degree: BA + MA, 180 + 150 credits (3 yrs. + 2.5 yrs.), MA, 150 credits (2.5 yrs.)
- Field of art: Music
- Organiser: the Sibelius Academy
- Next time to apply: January 2019
- Studies begin: at the start of the academic year in August
- Person responsible for the degree programme: Head of Department Kaisa Holopainen
- Other responsible persons/Head Teachers: Professor Atso Almila, orchestra conducting; Professor Nils Schweckendiek, choir conducting; lecturer Petri Komulainen, brass band conducting
Aims and career possibilities
Having completed your degree you will be extensively versed in a variety of music styles, master different musical subjects and possess a versatile competence in music pedagogy. You will have the necessary tools for working as an orchestra and choir conductor in demanding assignments covering the whole field of music. If you study to become a military conductor, you may find work as conductor and head of the marching bands of the Armed Forces. The most successful orchestra and choir conductors to graduate from the Sibelius Academy have placed excellently within the international field of music and created impressive careers as leaders of the world’s leading orchestras and choirs.
Content and structure of the education
The degree programme in conducting comprises a variety of subjects within music theory and conducting practice. During the weekly group sessions you will be able to lead the trainee orchestra or Vocis trainee choir in orchestra conducting or brass band conducting. All teaching in conducting is recorded on video, and during our joint feedback sessions you will be able to exchange thoughts and ideas on your work with your student colleagues and the leading teachers. Collaborations with domestic and foreign professional orchestras serve as a bridge between studies and working life.
As a student of orchestral conducting at the Sibelius Academy, your most important tool is the trainee orchestra, available to students for an average of twice a week. This makes our education unique by international standards. You will also get to lead Finnish orchestras on an annual basis. In your studies you will become extensively acquainted with the literature of orchestral music, different styles and their special features and interpretations, as well with musical theatre such as opera, ballet and musical plays. As part of your professional skill set you will also learn the administrative tasks of a conductor. Over the course of its long history, the Sibelius Academy has educated a long and illustrious line of internationally renowned conductors. Sibelius Academy alumni include e.g. Mikko Franck, Hannu Lintu, Susanna Mälkki, Eva Ollikainen, Sakari Oramo, Jukka-Pekka Saraste, Esa-Pekka Salonen, John Storgårds and Osmo Vänskä.
As a student of choir conducting you will study the history of choral music, the conducting technique required for the most demanding choral music works, sound formation techniques in choral music during different stylistic periods, and the special features of repertoires and sound formation in different types of choirs. With choir conducting as your major, your instrument of study and research is the 16-member vocal ensemble (“Vocis”) that you will get to conduct twice a week. New members are admitted to the ensemble at the start of a new academic year, by way of audition, and it regularly performs its own concerts. Graduates of choir conducting include e.g. Jani Sivén, Kari Turunen, Heikki Liimola and Juha Kuivanen, who have all actively impacted the domestic field of choir music. The current Professor of choir conducting, Nils Schweckendiek, is himself an alumni of the programme. We regularly welcome domestic and international experts as visiting teachers, guiding students e.g. in different styles of music and enunciation practices for foreign languages. Our student body has grown increasingly international over the last few years.
Wind Orchestra Conducting
The programme for wind orchestra conducting at the Sibelius Academy lets you choose between studying general wind orchestra conducting or specializing in military wind orchestra conducting. In your studies you will become acquainted with the conducting techniques required for more demanding pieces in the wind orchestra repertoire, the extensive repertoire that exists for wind orchestras as well as its different styles, special features and interpretations. You will regularly get the opportunity to work with varying brass band compositions. Your weekly tool is the 12-17-member trainee brass band. Your class will also serve as visiting conductors for the professional brass bands of the Armed Forces around Finland, for an average of five weeks in total.
Students graduating as brass band conductors have placed well in both the wind orchestra of the Armed Forces and other important wind orchestras, with several students also finding work abroad. Notable alumni include e.g. David Claudio, Jukka Iisakkila, Sami Ruusuvuori and Ville Paakkunainen. The first doctor of the wind orchestra conducting programme, Peter Ettrup Larsen, graduated recently.
If you apply for the military wind orchestra conducting programme, you will complete the Armed Force’s suitability test as part of the application process. During your studies you will be collaborating with the brass band orchestras of the Finnish Armed Forces for approximately 4-5 weeks of the academic year. You will also complete certain courses in leadership and supervisor training at the National Defence University, to be separately agreed with the contact person for the Armed Forces in charge of the military brass band conducting programme. In all other respects, studies are shared with the general programme in brass band orchestra conducting.
Doctoral studies and other further training
After graduation you have the opportunity to apply for postgraduate studies in music with our doctoral programme, focusing on scientific, artistic or applied doctoral studies. At the Sibelius Academy you may graduate with a licentiate degree in music or a doctoral degree in music.
How to apply
The application procedures differ slightly depending on whether you are applying for the orchestra, wind orchestra or choral conducting major. Applicants to the orchestral or wind orchestra conducting major are required to have versatile soloist skills and theoretical knowledge, as well as experience in ensemble playing. Applicants to the choral conducting major are required to have versatile soloist skills and theoretical knowledge, as well as experience in ensemble singing.
Teachers and contact information
The Professor of Orchestra Conducting is Atso Almila. Previous professors include e.g. Jorma Panula, Arvid Jansons, Alois Klima, Leif Segerstam, Eri Klas and Hannu Lintu. We annually also welcome prolific visiting teachers, many of whom are themselves alumni of the Sibelius Academy.
Professor Nils Schweckendiek is responsible for the choir conducting programme at the Sibelius Academy and lecturer Petri Komulainen for the wind orchestra conducting programme.
All University of the Arts Helsinki e-mail addresses are in the form firstname.lastname (at) uniarts.fi
Head of Department Kaisa Holopainen
Professor, choir conducting Nils Schweckendiek
Professor, conductor and orchestra education Atso Almila
Wind instrument conductor class lecturer Petri Komulainen
Symphony orchestra manager Anna Rombach
Conductor programme manager Arturo Alvarado
Orchestra coordinator Susanna Laine
Stage manager David Claudio
Stage manager Jani Roppola