Spira’s conductor (2019–): George Parris
Photo: Kai Bäckström.
George Parris (b. 1993) studied Music at the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford where he also sang with some of the top collegiate choirs. He will soon graduate with a Master’s Degree in Choir Conducting at the Sibelius Academy, Helsinki, where he has been studying since 2017.
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 worked with the Croatian Radiotelevision Choir 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.
Spira’s conductor (2013–2019): Kari Turunen
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.