Olga Heikkilä

  • Tohtorikoulutettava, klassinen yksinlaulu, laulupedagogiikka, työelämävalmennus, S/Docmus-tohtorikoulu, Sibelius-Akatemia
  • +358504775540


Teacher (Voice)

Vocal pedagogy, officially appointed supervisor of undergraduate students

Lecture series of Vocal pedagogy 1-3

Lecture series of Towards working life

Lecture series by Sibelius Academy researchers

Taiteellinen toiminta

Lyric soprano Olga Heikkilä received her versatile education from the Helsinki Conservatory (2008), the Sibelius Academy (2015) and the Royal Danish Opera Academy (2013). The awards at the Kangasniemi (2009) and Lappeenranta (2010) singing competitions raised Heikkilä to the attention of the Finnish concert audience.  From 2016, Heikkilä is doing artistic research at the DocMus Doctoral School at the Sibelius Academy. Her project À tour de Pierrot Lunaire examines the demarcation of singing and speaking through Pierrot Lunaire from Schönberg from the artist’s point of view. Heikkilä’s recent international soloist assignments include the Stuttgart State Opera (2014), La Monnaie (Belgium) (2015) and Royal Danish Opera (2015).  In summer 2017 she made her debut at the Berlin State Opera and in 2019 at the Finnish National Opera and the Aix-en-Province Opera Festival.  As a concert singer, Heikkilä regularly performs with orchestras and chamber ensembles in Europe and Finland among the others under the leadership of conductors Michael Boder, Eva Ollikainen and Ingo Metzmacher.  Recent international awards include special awards in IVC ’s-Hertogenbosch (2014, The Netherlands) and Klaudia Taev (2013, Estonia) singing competitions.  Heikkilä’s artistic activities have been supported by Cultural Foundation of Finland, Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation, Friends of the Mariinsky Theater in Finland, Päivi and Paavo Lipponen Foundation of the Nations Education Foundation, Sibelius Academy Foundation and Pro Musica Foundation.

Tutkimus ja julkaisut

Doctoral project: À tour de Pierrot lunaire – Demarcation of singing and speaking

I limit my research to cover the 20th century vocal music where speech is used in expressive way. Key concepts are: Sprechgesang, Sprechstimme, Sprechmelodie, declamation, recitation. Within this framework, I examine the interfaces between speech and song from the physiological point of view and more practically from the artist’s starting point. The source materials for my research are printed works and live-interviews on the subject by singers, academics and composers from the beginning of the 20th century until our time. As a result of my research there will be published a separate teaching publication in English.

The concert series consists of five concerts from five different perspectives on Sprechgesang and is tightly connected to my research work. The artistic aspects are:

1) From Cabaret du Chat Noir and Überbrettel songs to Schönberg’s Brettl-lieder (2017) – Roots of Sprechgesang in the 18th century French and German Cabaret tradition

2) Inspired by Cathy Berberian (2018) – Development of Spechgesang in the works by Avantgarde composers of 1960´

3) Alma! Kinetic Opera by Minna Leinonen (2019) – Sprechgesang in the opera repertoire

4) Pierrot lunaire by Hartleben – recording of 50 poems

5) Commissioned works that explore Sprechgesang of our time

My written thesis on issue “Demarcation of Singing and Speaking” is presented in three refereed articles. In the first article I explore Sprechstimme of Pierrot lunaire from the point of view of commissioner of the piece – Albertine Zehme. My second article has pedagogical point of view exploring relationship of speaking and singing voice in the teaching of classical singing. The third article has more philosophical approach and disscusses the use of Sprechgesang in contemporary works as well as predicting its further development.

As a female singer I am interested in the female performers of the past who have helped to discover new ways of using vocal instrument. In that sense every part of my research concentrates around one or two female characters that I examine and get inspired by.

In concert series the female performers are:

1) Cabaret tradition – Yvette Guilbert (1865–1944) and Marya Delvard (1874–1965)

2) Avantgarde and voice imrpovisation – Cathy Berberian (1925–1983)

3) Opera – Alma Mahler (1879–1964) as composer and Barbara Hannigan (b. 1971) as performer

4) Pierrot lunaire recording – Albertine Zehme (1857–1946) as comissioner and first performer of Pierrot lunaire by Schoenberg and Jane Manning (b. 1938) as interpreter and researcher ofthe piece in our time

5) Commissioned works – Olga Heikkilä as performer and researcher of Sprechgesang in 2020′


As an ambassador of contemporary music I am grateful to be part of world premieres of the following operas:

2021 Kaija Saariaho: Innocence, Finnish National Opera

2021 Ville Raasakka: Steam Engine, Finnish Baroque Orchestra

2020 Minna Leinonen: Alma!, Change Ensemble

2018 Jaakko Kuusisto: Jää [Ice], Finnish National Opera

2016 Steingrimuur Rohloff: Lysistrata, Den Fynske Opera


  • Classical singing
  • Sprechgesang
  • Sprechstimme
  • Phonetics