Barocco Boreale (‘northern Baroque’) was established in 2013 due to the high demand of having a specialized Early Music ensemble that would perform regularly in the northern parts of Finland. The key members of Barocco Boreale are originally from the region of Ostrobothnia. They are internationally and nationally distinguished musicians in the field of Early Music and have been working together in various ensembles over several decades. The musicians’ strong connection to folk music adds to the common creative flair of the ensemble – there is always a chance that some folk music nuances may sneak up, even inadvertently. Barocco Boreale has the good fortune to perform in the acoustically and atmospherically excellent 18th century churches of the area. The ensemble is also frequent guests at several national and international festivals, including Oulunsalo Soi Chamber Music Festival, Kaustinen Chamber Music Festival, Korsholm Festival, and Haapsalu Keelpillifestivali (Estonia) among others. Barocco Boreale’s first recording, Vivaldi Folk Seasons (Alba) was recently released and is receiving high acclaim from music critics nationwide.
Marika Holmqvist, a native of Kokkola, started her violin studies at the age of seven and made her solo debut with Mendelssohn’s violin concerto at sixteen. Her career as a baroque violinist was launched when she, while still a young student, was chosen to represent Finland in the European Union Baroque Orchestra and perform with prominent conductors such as Ton Koopman and Andrew Manze. She has since graduated with a M.M. in Baroque Violin Performance and M.M. in Baroque Violin Pedagogy from the Royal Conservatory in the Hague, toured 30 countries with distinguished European and American Early Music ensembles, led and coached operas at Harvard and Cornell, taught baroque string techniques at Rutgers, and guest lectured at the Novia University of Applied Sciences (Pietarsaari). Marika, whose playing has been hailed as “mightily impressive, tonally attractive and intellectually secure” (Philadelphia Inquirer), enjoys an active freelance career performing as concertmaster and or principal for ensembles as diverse as Trinity Wall Street Baroque Orchestra (NYC), Spire Ensemble (Kansas City), Handel Choir (Baltimore), and Barocco Boreale among others. Marika is also a proud founding member of her Philadelphia ensembles, The Franklin Quartet and Night Music. Her 20-odd recordings include the GRAMMY-nominated Handel’s Israel in Egypt with the Trinity Wall Street Choir and Baroque Orchestra.
Violist Anna-Leena Kangas has held a position with the Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra since 1989 and is the founding member of Chydenius Kapelli in Kokkola. Her interest in Baroque performance practices led her to become a founding member of Barocco Boreale. In addition to being a regular with Barocco Boreale she also makes frequent guest appearances with the Helsinki Baroque Orchestra and Finnish Baroque Orchestra. Anna-Leena holds a Bachelor of Music from the Central Ostrobothnia Conservatory (1988) and a Bachelor of Music Pedagogy from the Centria University of Applied Sciences (2007). Miss Kangas is currently on the viola faculty at the Central Ostrobothnia Conservatory.
Kreeta-Maria Kentala studied violin at the Sibelius Academy (FI) under Kaija Saarikettu, and at the Edsberg Institute of Music in Sollentuna (SE) under Jennifer Nuttall-Wolf and Endre Wolf. Her interest in Baroque violin studies took her to the Netherlands where she studied at the Amsterdam School of the Arts under Reindhard Goebel, as well as privately under Monica Huggett. She is a much desired guest concertmaster and soloist both nationally and internationally, is conversant in both folk and Baroque music and performs regularly with several Finnish groups such as the Rantatie Quartet, folk-baroque group SAMA, the Finnish Baroque Orchestra and Barocco Boreale. Miss Kentala’s recordings have received several awards: Classical Age in Finland (Ondine) won Finnish Radio’s Record of the Year in 2001, Rantatie Quartet’s recording Tulindberg’s String Quartets (Polyhymnia) won the 2008 Classical Emma award, and Gamba Nova (Alba) won the 2009 Classical Emma Award. Kreeta-Maria currently serves as the Head of the Early Music Department at the Novia Institute in Pietarsaari. She plays a Rogeri Baroque violin from 1690, generously donated to her by the Finnish Cultural Foundation.
Jouko Mansnerus has held Principal Viola positions with the Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra, the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra (Stockholm), the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra (Helsinki) and the Finnish Chamber Orchestra (Helsinki), as well as a tutti viola position with Jakobstads Sinfonietta. Currently Jouko works as the associate Principal Viola with the Vaasa City Orchestra. As a devoted chamber musician, Jouko has been a member of the renowned Jean Sibelius Quartet and traveled the world performing with various other chamber ensembles. Mansnerus has frequently performed as a soloist nationally and his international solo work has taken him to Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Estonia. His various CD recordings include: Reger-Reinecke-Schumann-Vieuxtemps with piano player Risto Lauriala (SACD 8), René Eespere’s viola concerto with Hortus Musicus Academic Orchestra (Antes) as well as several chamber music recordings with the Jean Sibelius Quartet and the Rantatie Quartet. Mansnerus is also an active baroque viola player and can be heard as a Principal with the Finnish Baroque Orchestra (Helsinki) and Barocco Boreale. He is also currently a member of the period instrument Rantatie Quartet (Kaustinen). Jouko has been on the viola faculty at the Sibelius Academy and taught chamber music at the Novia University of Applied Sciences (Pietarsaari). Mansnerus studied at the Sibelius Academy, Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome, Italy, and the Edsberg Institute of Music in Sollentuna, Sweden. He graduated with highest honors from the Edsberg Institute of Music, receiving both a diploma in chamber music and a diploma in solo performance under Professor Endre Wolf.
Originally from Veteli, Hanna Pakkala began her violin studies at the age of three and converted to the viola at the age of fourteen. Her viola studies took her to the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler in Berlin, and Franz Liszt Academy in Weimar. Her teachers at all these prestigious institutions were Helge Valtonen, Anna-Kreetta Gribajcevic, Pauline Sachs and Erich Krüger. Following her modern studies, Hanna became interested in Baroque studies and took in depth Baroque violin lessons with Kreeta-Maria Kentala. In January 2016 Hanna returned to her home turf winning the Principal Viola position with the Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra. Prior to that, she held positions with the Radio Philharmonic Orchestra (Helsinki), Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester Berlin and the Turku Philharmonic Orchestra. She has been a member of the Helsinki Baroque Orchestra since 2008 as well as performed with various other national and international Baroque ensembles. Barocco Boreale is Hanna’s newest Baroque encounter and she has been a regular with the ensemble since Easter 2016. In addition to being an orchestral musician, Hanna is also an active chamber musician. She has performed at several prestigious national and international festivals and has been featured as a soloist with the Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra and with the Helsinki Baroque Orchestra. In 2012 Hanna received the second prize at the Tampere National Viola Competition.
Originally from Kokkola, harpsichordist and organist Tea Polso is currently employed as an organist at the Lakeuden Risti Church in Seinäjoki and maintains an active performance career both as a chamber musician and as a soloist. She is sought after as a continuo player and works regularly with the Chydenius-Kapelli, Barocco Boreale, Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra, Helsinki Baroque Orchestra and Ensemble Sense. Tea has also made several guest appearances as an organ and harpsichord soloist at the Vaasa and Kokkola Opera Festivals, as well as at several other major national music festivals. She started her piano studies at the Central Ostrobothnia Conservatory and continued at the Kaustinen Music Gymnasium under Outi Kangas. At the Sibelius Academy she studied harpsichord under Anssi Mattila, Assi Karttunen and Elina Mustonen and organ under Håkan Wikman and Olli Porthan. She has also participated in several international master classes where her teachers were Mitzi Meyerson, Marieke Spaans, Christopher Stembridge, Jacques van Oortmerssen, Kati Hämäläinen and Kari Jussila. Tea holds a Masters’ in Music, graduating with honors from both the Early Music Department and the Department for Church Music at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, Finland.
Originally from Kaustinen, violinist Maria Pulakka began her education at the Central Ostrobothnia Conservatory under Juha Kangas. From there she moved on to study with Kaija Saarikettu, Jari Valo and Jennifer Nuttal-Wolf. Her baroque violin teachers were Monica Huggett and Reinhard Goebel. Maria performs regularly with Barocco Boreale and the Finnish Baroque Orchestra, and leads an active career as a chamber musician, performing at internationally acclaimed festivals such as Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival, Vantaa Baroque and Kaustinen Chamber Music Festival. She is a founding member of Chydenius Kapelli and Barocco Boreale, and has held a position with the prestigious Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra since 1982, working as a Principal as well as Associate Principal, and as a section player. She has also appeared as a soloist with the orchestra. Folk music is close to Maria’s heart and she performs regularly with Akka Pelimannit and Nikulan Pelimannit. The groups specialize in folk music from Maria’s birth village, Kaustinen.
Cellist Lauri Pulakka is a multifaceted musician who divides his time between solo, chamber and orchestral work. Thanks to his broad education and vast experience, he feels equally at home with repertoire from the Early Baroque until the 21st Century. He began his studies at the Central Ostrobothnia Conservatory and moved on to the Sibelius Academy. He also expanded his studies by venturing out to Paris and to the UK. Pulakka’s fruitful Baroque specialist career spans from the 80s until the current day and he continues to be one of the core members of several renowned Finnish Early Music ensembles. The Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra is singlehandedly the most important musical community that has helped mold Lauri into the musician he is today. He was appointed the orchestra’s principal cellist in it’s inaugural year – a position he still holds today. In addition to his principal cello position, Pulakka also works as the orchestra’s Repertoire Coordinator. The orchestra has toured several European countries, Japan, USA, recorded 40 CDs and premiered close to 150 contemporary works. Pulakka has taught at the Sibelius Academy and is currently on faculty at the Central Ostrobothnia Conservatory, and at the Centria and Novia University of Applied Sciences. He holds a doctorate (2003) from the Sibelius Academy. Pulakka’s dissertation topic was: Emancipation of the Bass Violin -The ways of using the violoncello in Italian instrumental music from 1610-1750. Currently Lauri plays a Thomas Edlinger cello from 1718, generously donated by the Finnish Cultural Foundation.
Merja Pyrhönen started her violin studies at the age of six at the Central Ostrobothnia Conservatory in Kokkola and graduated from the Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences with a master’s degree in Music Pedagogy. She is currently employed as a violin teacher at the Music Institute of The Jakobstad Region and performs regularly with the Pietarsaari Sinfonietta. Merja has also held section violin positions at the Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra and the Vasa City Orchestra. Her interest in Early Music took her to the Novia University of Applied Sciences in Pietarsaari from where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Baroque violin in December 2015. Merja is one of the core members of Barocco Boreale and has performed with the ensemble since their inaugural concert.
Julius Pyrhönen studied bass at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki. Following his studies he won a position with the prestigious Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra. Alongside with his work with the orchestra he took an interest in early stringed bass instruments and decided to pursue in depth studies in Early Music at the Novia University of Applied Sciences in Pietarsaari. Pyrhönen performs regularly with Barocco Boreale and enjoys venturing out to the Argentinian tango world with his group Novjaro-Quintet. He performs contemporary music with the ensemble Årstiderne and is currently the Associate Principal with the Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra.
Siiri Virkkala works as a violin teacher at the Perhonjokilaakso Adult Education Center and at the Kaustinen College of Music. She is also busy leading various “Näppärit” folk music groups for children of different ages in her hometown Kaustinen as well as on weekend and summer courses all over Finland and abroad. Virkkala’s own career in music started also with “Näppärit”, and later she held positions with the Norrland Opera Symphony Orchestra in Umeå, Sweden, and with the Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra in Kokkola, Finland. She familiarized herself with early music and Baroque violin techniques under Kreeta-Maria Kentala’s supervision at the Novia University of Applied Sciences in Jakobstad, Finland. Virkkala plays second violin with the Rantatie Quartet, and folk music in several different ensembles as often as possible!