Aivo Välja

b. 15.03.1968 Tallinn

The Estonian conductor Aivo Välja graduated in symphony orchestra and choral conducting from the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre in his hometown Tallinn. He also studied symphony orchestra and opera conducting at the St. Petersburg State Conservatory with Aleksandr Polištšuk and Ilja Mussini, in Hamburg with Claus-Peter Seibel and in Vienna with Professor Karl Österreicher. Furthermore he took several master classes by Neeme Järvi, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Jorma Panula and Prof. Ilja Musin.

During his studies, Aivo Välja extensively engaged in contemporary music, conducted new productions and made several recordings with the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra. During this period he was also involved with baroque music, conducting the Tallinn Baroque Orchestra and Choir and examining a lot of repertoire from baroque to the classical period.

He first came into professional contact with Estonian National Symphony Orchestra in 1993 and with Estonian National Opera in 1994. Since 1997 he is a regular guest conductor at the Estonian National Opera, where he also worked as a regular conductor from 2001–2007, having conducted more than 70 performances (operas, ballets and concerts) per season. In 2009 he was engaged in Schleswig-Holstein Landestheater as main-conductor. In 2011 he was invited to conduct at the Finnish National Opera (repremiere of Don Quijote).

Amongst his most important engagements of the past seasons are the premiere of Jacques Offenbach´s Orfeus in the Underworld at the Landestheater Schleswig Holstein, the productions of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Don Quijote and Le Corsaire at the Finnish National Opera, where he was re-invited to conduct Don Quijote in 2015, and the highly acclaimed John Neumeier production of Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s  The Nutcracker at the Bavarian State Opera, for which he was awarded the TZ-Rose for outstanding achievement in culture in January 2014 (Munich Tageszeitung – critics’ award).

Aivo Välja has also conducted Maribor Opera Orchestra, Malmö Opera Orchestra, Tampere Philharmonic, Glinka Kapella in St Petersburg, Maikop City Orchestra, Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, Pärnu City Orchestra, Narva City Orchestra, Vanemuine Symphony Orchestra, amongst others and his repertoire comprises operas like Modest Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov, Giuseppe Verdi Aida, Othello, Don Carlo, La Traviata, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Georges Bizet’ Carmen, and ballets like Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s  Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Nutcracker, Anna Karenina Sergei Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet, Igor Stravinsky’s Petrushka and Ludwig Minkus’ Don Quijote, amongst many others. He has also conducted world premieres of several Estonian composers including Lepo Sumera’s Musica profana, Eino Tamberg’s Journey for Strings, Tõnis Kaumann’s Op. 1/97, Urmas Sisask’s Requiem in Memory of Those Who Gave Their Life for the Freedom of Estonia, Op. 67 and Mart Siimer’s Eo Ipso.

In 1993 Aivo Välja won the orchestra conducting competition in Estonia, in 1996 he was awarded a diploma for a successful performance at the Prokofiev Competition in St. Petersburg and in 2003 the Richard Wagner scholarship for the Bayreuth Festival.

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