Occupation: professional cellist,
chamber music teacher
What first drew you to the rich, dark sound of the cello?
I was accepted to a special music program in third grade, and I had to pick an orchestra instrument. My flautist aunt suggested cello and since the school needed one for the orchestra, I agreed. I had to pick something. In so many ways it was serendipity. I think I fell in love with the sound right away, I was drawn to how similar it is to the human voice. We found a really great teacher and I made quick progress. Only later I found out I have four professional cellists in my extended family, so maybe there is a cello gene in my ancestry.
You play in three different chamber music groups and two bands. What do you enjoy most about participating in a variety of ensembles?
I’ve always found small ensembles to be just like any other human relationship, requiring a great deal of commitment and energy. My newest group, the Järnefelt Piano Trio, was founded last year for the occasion of Finland’s 100th Year of Independence. Most of all, I love having a conversation and communicating in the language of music. I feel I get to know my colleagues deeper and quicker than I get to know people through regular conversation. There’s nothing better than being on stage with beloved friends and feeling the energy we generate together.
What are you listening to these days?
I always listen to a lot of Queen, especially “A Night at the Opera” and “News of the World.” I just bought a bunch of cello CDs: my new favorite Bach Suites recording by Jean-Guihen Queyras and a couple Truls Mørk recordings I didn’t have before.
Have you taught any Finnish traditions or customs to your children?
They all have dual citizenship so they better know the customs! There is a wonderful Finnish community in and around Ann Arbor, and we get together frequently. We celebrate all the old holidays: in February, we are hoping for snow on Shrove Tuesday so we can go sledding, have pea soup, and cardamom bread with whipped cream! The old legend says whoever slides the farthest has the best crop in the coming season.
What has been your favorite discovery since coming to Ann Arbor 20 years ago?
I do so love the different parks around the river. We just moved from the southeast to northwest side of town and I had never been to Bird Hills or the Barton Nature Area. Those trails are just wonderful!
Listen to Katri play at katrimusic.com