Ulla Knuuttila

Ulla Knuuttila

Instrument group

I started playing music when I was perhaps 5 years old, initially on the violin. However, I never learned to love the sound of the high E string. After playing the violin for a few years, my teacher suggested I try the lower viola, and I never looked back.

I started seriously considering a career as a musician when I participated in the annual chamber music courses with my hometown Kuopio Conservatory and the Kamus Quartet. I made my final career choice when I was able to record Sibelius' first symphony with the Nordea Jean Sibelius Orchestra under the direction of Jukka-Pekka Saraste at Musiikkitalo. It was the first recording made in the new concert venue.

I began my studies at the Sibelius Academy under Atso Lehto. My exchange student year in Germany eventually stretched to over five years. First I studied in Berlin, then in Munich and Frankfurt under Roland Glassl, Andreas Willwohl and Wilfried Strehle. I completed my Master’s degree in chamber music in Tim Vogler’s class. After returning to Finland, I graduated from the Sibelius Academy, where I was in Pirkko Simojoki's class, and then joined the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra.

In my free time, I usually don’t listen to music but focus instead on the sounds of nature: the birdsong, the hum of the trees and even the babbling of the streams. All of these can be enjoyed on my daily commute through the Keskuspuisto park. Nature has always been taken for granted in Finland, but when I lived in Frankfurt, I learned to really appreciate what we have.

When I joined the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra in autumn 2022, I felt that the circle was closing. I get to play again at Musiikkitalo and even under the direction of Jukka-Pekka Saraste. Sibelius is also often on the programme, and performing his music is still special to me, especially with the HPO. Through chamber music, I have also found a special connection with classical composers such as Mozart and Haydn. It’s wonderful to be part of such a long-standing orchestra that has so many generations of experience and knowledge.