Photo: Markus Manner
Esko Kallio (2023 – )
Esko Kallio (b. 1974) is the new conductor of Spira since the fall of 2023. Kallio began his music studies at the Espoo Music School (now Music Institute Juvenalia) and graduated from the choral conducting class of the Sibelius Academy, completing his A-degree in 2004. Kallio has been the director and guest conductor of several high-quality choirs since the early 2000s.
Kallio’s preferred repertoire extends from the Renaissance to the present day, and he has premiered and recorded a lot of choral music by the younger generation of composers. He is also passionate about teaching choral conducting, developing a choral instrument and matters related to choirsound culture and ensemble work. Kallio regularly works as an expert in choral singing in the Finnish choral field. In addition to Spira Ensemble, Esko Kallio currently conducts Candomino and Suomen Laulu. In autumn 2023, Esko will also work with the Helsinki Chamber Choir and the Chorus Cantorum Finlandiae.
Photo: Kai Bäckström.
George Parris (2019–)
George Parris (b. 1993) studied Music at the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford where he also sang with some of the top collegiate choirs. In 2021, he graduated in Choral Conducting from the Sibelius Academy and is now a freelance singer and conductor.
He is the founder and Artistic Director of The Carice Singers, with whom he has made four recordings and performed widely across the UK. In Finland, he has worked with such choirs as EMO Ensemble, HOL, Murtosointu, Kaari-Ensemble, and Somnium Ensemble, and is a member of Helsinki Chamber Choir and the professional ensemble I Dodici. He has also been invited to conduct the Croatian Radiotelevision Choir and Coro Casa da Música, Porto, and has observed RIAS Kammerchor along with the radio choirs in Denmark, Sweden and Latvia.
Parris has been the conductor and Artistic Director of Spira Ensemble since September 2019.
Photo: Kai Bäckström.
Kari Turunen (2013–2019)
Kari Turunen (b. 1962) is the Artistic Director of the professional choral ensemble Vancouver Chamber Choir. Before moving to Vancouver in 2019, he was a versatile actor on the Finnish choral and vocal music scene. After leaving a college-level teaching position in 2011, he has been a full-time conductor, clinician, adjudicator and lecturer, working not only in Finland, but also around Europe and Asia.
Turunen has been the Artistic Director of, among others, the following prominent Finnish choirs: Akademiska Damkören Lyran, Akademiska Sångföreningen, Kampin Laulu Chamber Choir, Chorus Cantorum Finlandiae, Spira Ensemble and the professional early music ensembles Ensemble Petraloysio and I Dodici. He was a founding member of Lumen Valo, a vocal ensemble that is one of the driving forces on the Finnish early music scene, and sang tenor in the group for 26 years. He has won numerous prizes with his choirs, both in national and international competitions.
In addition to artistic activities, Turunen has been active in associations and in organising festivals. He is, for example, the Artistic Director of the annual Aurore – Helsinki Renaissance Music Festival and the Finnish-Swedish Song Celebration 2022. He acted as chairman of the Finnish Choral Directors’ Association for over 20 years, and was named Choral Conductor of the Year 2008 in Finland.
Turunen was educated at the University of Helsinki and the Sibelius Academy, where he studied choral conducting (MA). He holds a doctorate in early music performance practice from the University of the Arts, Helsinki.