Mikko-Pekka Svala

Mikko-Pekka Svala

Instrument group
Performer role
Associate principal

Mikko-Pekka Svala was born in Oulu, and his hobbies as a child included football, ice hockey and playing the piano. When sitting at the keyboard began to feel lonely, he quickly gave up the piano. Svala longed for team play in music too – a sense of community, togetherness, direct communication from one player to another, and active passing from side to side. It did not take long for him to find himself playing centre field in a brass band.

“I found the bassoon thanks to my father when I was 12 years old. It wasn't playing the bassoon per se that excited me at first,” says Svala, “but rather being part of a community bigger than myself. I was often on the verge of quitting, but the music camps and pressure of practicing challenging lines maintained my enthusiasm.”

Having studied at Länsi-Pohja Music Institute, Turku Conservatory and music universities in Sweden and Germany, Svala currently teaches at the Helsinki Conservatory, Mannheim University of Music and Performing Arts, and Trossingen University of Music. For him, sharing his knowledge of music with young musicians is as important a part of his profession as playing the instrument itself.

“I appreciate the traditional master and apprentice method. For my part, I want to bring a culture of talking to music lessons, where we can share feelings and create connections between people in ways other than music. You can learn technical skills anywhere, but a good mentor can guide a young person so that they don’t have to learn everything the hard way.”

Svala has been playing with the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra since 2008 and finds that he is enjoying himself more and more. As a bassoonist, he feels that he is part of a larger machine, creating the basis for the chords with the cellos and double basses. Sometimes he gets solos too.

“There has been a generational change and internationalisation within the orchestra. The handprint left by each chief conductor is also visible. Playing together is more and more refined, and each musician gets to give their best. I have not even thought about other orchestras. This is the right place for me.”