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Pir​jo Leppänen


Curriculum vitae

Download a detailed cv in English, German, French, Swedish or Finnish (short/long).

Pirjo Leppänen was born in Lahti, Finland, where she began her music education at the age of three in Lahti Conservatory. After half a year in musical kindergarten, she took up violin. She became interested in the oboe through hearing a friend of her big sister play the English horn, and she began playing the oboe as a secondary instrument at the age of thirteen.

Ms. Leppänen continued studying the oboe at the  Sibelius Academy and later at the Paris Conservatoire (CNSMDP). She took up studying singing at the Sibelius Academy and continued throughout her higher music studies, also during her time in Paris. She took her final exam in oboe in 1997, followed by her Master of Music degree in the Sibelius Academy. The studies in classical singing she completed with the final exam in 1998.

After finishing her formal studies, Ms. Leppänen has continued to develop her skills in both oboe and singing with numerous master classes and workshops, with Renata Scotto, Elena Obraztsova, Christiane Eda-Pierre and Grair Khanedanian, among others. From 2008 she has been working closely with the distinguished singing professor Irina Gavrilovici in Vienna, to perfect her voice in the Fach of lyric soprano. Ms. Leppänen has benefited and much enjoyed having Mrs. Gavrilovici's ears and more than 40 years of experience to help her achieve the best possible technical and musical delivery.

In her work as free lance musician Ms. Leppänen has had the pleasure of working with several internationally renowned conductors, Sakari Oramo, Hannu Lintu, Leif Segerstam, Paavo Berglund, Juha Kangas and many others. She plays the famous English Horn solo of Sibelius' Swan of Tuonela in two recordings, with Sakari Oramo and Anu Tali (Tallinn, Estonia). She is also a sought-after stand-in singer or oboe and English horn player for any emergency situations, because of her phenomenal ability to sing and play anything a prima vista.

Her first direct contact with opera genre was the production of Otello (G. Verdi) in Lahti, Finland. At the age of nine, she was one of the children singing to Desdemona, and was also on stage in the beginning of the opera, receiving Otello safely to Cyprus from the stormy seas. This experience was a life changing one. Pirjo began to borrow opera scores from the music library, and played and sang all the parts at home for hours every day. Having sung in the school choir and as its soloist for years, she joined the  Lahti Opera Choir at the age of 14 and sang in several productions already during her school years. Her stage experience from that time includes also a role in a play, a Lahti City Theatre production.

Ms. Leppänen performed the part of Gilda (G. Verdi: Rigoletto) as her first operatic role in Lahti, Finland, 1996. Two years later, 1998, she sang the part of Königin der Nacht in an international workshop production of Die Zauberflöte (W. A. Mozart) in Nida, Lithuania, under the direction of conductor Josef Wallnig (Salzburg, Austria) and director Markus Kupferblum (Vienna, Austria).

She performed the role of Adina in L'elisir d'amore (G. Donizetti), 2006 in Lahti, Finland. The opera was set at Hawaii in the 1950s, Adina a rich heiress, recovering from a recent break-up, playing with the feelings of poolboy Nemorino and Navy officer Belcore, and some Coca-Cola added to the mix by the miraculous Doctor Dulcamara. The vintage approach to the classic Donizetti opera was directed by Ville Saukkonen and conducted by David Searle (Washington D.C., USA).

Ms. Leppänen performed the part of  Pohjan neiti (Maiden of the North, name role in Merikanto: Pohjan neiti) in Lahti 2017. The Finnish national epos based story of the golden maiden pursued by the old wise Väinö (Väinämöinen) and choosing to marry young and handsome Ilmarinen instead, was put on stage in its entirety for the first time during the Finnish independence by Lahti Opera, directed by Jermo Grundström and with musical direction of Jenna Ristilä.

Her most recent operatic appearance was as Micaëla (Bizet: Carmen) at Helsinki in an OperArte production of "Carmen in the summer night" 2019, setting up the ageless story of Carmen in the midsummer night at the lake district in the late 1970's Finland. The production was directed by Juha Pikkarainen, musical direction by Tiina Korhonen and performances given at Kanneltalo.

Ms. Leppänen has given several recitals in many Finnish cities, including Helsinki and Lahti, and is currently working with one of Finlands outstanding lied pianists, Tuula Hällström. Ms. Leppänen has performed as a soloist in opera concerts and oratorios with, e.g., Turku Philharmonic Orchestra and The Conscript Band of the Finnish Defence Forces.

Ms. Leppänen speaks fluently Finnish, English, French, Italian, Swedish and has ample skills in German. She is also fluent in Russian pronunciation and expression, which she has studied with Aleksandr Maskalin and Larissa Gergieva.