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Ilona Korhonen is a female musician, dedicated to the bone to folk music, and involved in all kinds of music, mostly vocal.
Korhonen is familiar with many aspects of a musician’s work: composing, ensemble playing, producing, singing, teaching, researching and working as a consult.

Before turning completely to folk music, Ilona Korhonen studied at the Sibelius Academy Department of Music Education to become a secondary school and upper secondary school music teacher and took plenty of studies in choir conducting and pedagogy. In 2007, she was accepted to study at the Department of Folk Music, and she became Master of Music in 2003.
The subject of Korhonen’s doctoral dissertation, accepted with honours in the summer 2012, was Ingrian runo-singing, focusing on solo runo-singing. The muse and central character of the dissertation was the most famous Ingrian runo-singer, Larin Paraske (1834–1904). The title of the dissertation, “Tulin kuin tulikipuna – Larin Parasken runolauluopissa” (“I Came Like a Spark Of Fire – Learning Runo-Singing with Larin Paraske”), is an apt description of Korhonen’s journey to the heart of runo-singing, guided by Larin Paraske. Runo-singing is, in fact, Korhonen’s strongest suit. The written work of the dissertation consisted of three parts, the most important of which was a poem collection “Kulje mulle yön valona” with poems written in the Kalevala metre by Korhonen herself.

Another field Korhonen has studied extensively is polyphony and choir singing in its many forms. As a part of her doctoral dissertation, she composed and performed an hour-long female choir piece based on Ingrian polyphony, “Tarkka pää, tania mieli”, with her own ensemble. The basis of this great task was Korhonen’s diverse knowledge of choir music obtained through her choir singing hobby and work as a choir conductor and choral composer. Korhonen worked as the artistic director of Vantaan kamarikuoro for 13 years, composing plenty of music for traditional chamber choir, as well as forming important contacts in the choir community. Contacts with vocal music performers of all kinds across the genres have led to many collaborations and have encouraged singers to commission compositions from Korhonen.

ilona korhonen ensemble

Korhonen teaches folk music theory, specifically transcription, at the Sibelius Academy Department of Folk Music. She has spent a long time familiarizing herself with this kind of work; she has participated the Finnish Literature Society’s music transcription project already since 2003 by transcribing all runo-singing samples in the Society’s so-called “A-nauhat” record archive. This has taught her to analyse the process of folk music transcription and computer assisted notation. She has actively advanced general transcription practices as well as the Finnish conventions of folk music transcription. In this project, she has developed important and close connections with folk music and folklore researchers.

In October 2012, Ilona Korhonen received the annual Larin Paraske Award, given out by The Kalevala Women’s Association to a skilled wordsmith. In July 2014 she won national folk music ”Konsta Jylhä -competition”, in traditional competition in Kaustinen.

At the moment, Korhonen is working on her compositions for female choir and composing singer/songwriter material for her ensembles, funded by the National Council for Music’s one year artist grant. She also gives concerts in Finland as well as all over Europe, performing at the moment mostly as a runo-singing soloist.

Curriculum Vitae


2005-2012          Sibelius Academy, Department of Folk Music

Department of Folk Music: Doctor of Music
(Art Study Programme)
grade kiitoksella hyväksytty, (passed with honours), May 4th, 2012

1997-2003          Sibelius Academy, Department of Folk Music, major instrument Folk Singing

Department of Folk Music: Master of Music, December 18, 2003

Bachelor of Music, October 26th, 2001

Instrument Teacher’s Pedagogical Studies (35 credits)

1991-1997          Sibelius Academy, Department of Music Education, major instrument Singing

Qualification to teach music at comprehensive and upper secondary
school level (main subject 55 credits + education studies 35 credits + Master’s degree)
Studies in choir conducting (level C)

1998-1991          Vantaanjoki musical upper secondary school
Graduated 1991, grade magna cum laude approbatur


2011                 Freelance musician, entrepreneur

2013                 National Council for Music, artist grant

2000-                Teacher, Sibelius Academy, Department of Folk Music, transcription and notation using Sibelius


2013               “Metsän tyttö” for female voices, commissioned by Slavonic Tractor, (premiered 5/2013)

2011               “Metsän sävel”, commissioned by Sibelius Academy for the Folk Big Band (premiered September 7, 2011 in Helsinki Music Centre)

2010               ”Naisen sanat” for female choir, commissioned by Naiskuoro Elegia, (premiered 12/2010, Helsinki)

2009               ”Tarkka pää, tania mieli” for female choir, based on text by Larin Paraske; composed for Ilona Korhonen Ensemble, duration 55 min.

2009               “Join” commissioned by Cantabile choir, (premiered 3/09)

2008               “Kolmen pojan puut” for children’s choir and audio track, commissioned by Juminkeko foundation

2007               “Tammi”, entered in the composition competition arranged by chamber choir Tritonuksen laulajat; earned a spot in the finale and the audience’s choice award (the finale  took place April 28, 2007)

2007               ”Onko laivoi issoin laivoi?”, entered in the composition competition arranged by Turun konservatorion kamarikuoro chamber choir; earned a spot in the finale

2006               composing and directing music for stage production ”Erilainen Kalevala”, for Monita and Kassandra ry

2005               ”Suruvirsi”, entered in the composition competition arranged by the choir Grex Musicus; received a special mention

2004               ”Kehtolaulu”, III prize in composition competition arranged by Suomen naiskuoroliitto (premiered March 5th 2005, Jyväskylä)

2004               ”Aina jonkun tytär” theatre project for Kassandra ry, dir. Ritva Siikala, (premiered April 11th in Helsinki)

2004               ”Kansallis-Sarja”, commissioned by Elvis ry. for their 50th anniversary celebrations (premiered July 11th 2004, Kaustinen)

2003               ”Marian virsi” (text: Arhippa Perttunen) for mixed choir and soloists, duration 60 min. Performed by Vantaan kamarikuoro chamber choir and soloists (premiere December  10th 2003, Vantaa)

2003               Ilona ja Huvina: a composition concert and the entire repertoire

2000-              Vonkale: the entire repertoire for the duo Vonkale, total duration over 90 minutes. Record released in February 2004 (Roima).

1992-1996 The entire repertoire of Berenicen hiukset folk music orchestra


2008     Ilona Korhonen ensemble, a female choir consisting of 17 professional folk singers

2003-    Ilona ja Huvina, concerts

1999-    Member of Voice Theatre Iki-Turso

1999-              Duo Vonkale with kantele player Pauliina Kauhanen: concerts and performances in various events and festivals in Finland, Great Britain and Japan

1992-1996       Folk music ensemble Berenicen Hiukset

1992-              Performed as a member of various ensembles, including Suden Aika, Tanhuvaara, Entiset Ystäväni, Uusi Parempi Maku, Jari Rättyä & Sokea Hevonen, Suomen kurkkulaulajat, Joulupukkiorkesteri, Carelian Sound and Voice Theatre Iki-Turso ensembles.


2013              Paavele! – pieni runolaulurapsodia, Helsinki Festival, in Aamu Song´s Reddress. 8/13

2013               Hõimuöhtu, concert in Tallin Old City Music House – Vanalinna Muusikamaja 3/13

2012               Pekka Kuusisto & Ilona Korhonen: ”Paraske ja Sibelius”, Our Festival in Tuusulanjärvi

2012               Sakari Oramo & Ilona Korhonen: ”Sibelius ja Paraske”, Kokkola Opera Summer

2012               Completed Doctor of Music degree

2007-2010       Assistant, Sibelius Academy

1995-2012       Artistic director, Vantaan kamarikuoro chamber choir

2012               5th doctoral diploma concert: “Minä, Paraske” in the crypt at Helsinki Cathedral February 26th and 28th

2010               Artistic producer on Slavonic Tractor: Slavonic Tractor (Alba 2010)

2009               4th doctoral diploma concert: ”Rautamuurahainen”, Koko Theatre

2008               3rd doctoral diploma concert: Ilona Korhonen ensemble: “Tarkka pää, tania mieli”; Temppeliaukio Church

2007               2nd doctoral diploma concert: “Jyrki”, Stoa

2007               1st doctoral diploma concert: “Metsän Sävel”, Q-teatteri theatre

2005               “Carmen Rhythmicum”, a commissioned piece performed with Pauliina Syrjälä in Sherborne, England.

2004               First performance of ”Iloveet”, a piece commissioned from Pekka Jalkanen by the Finnish Literature Society; Vantaan kamarikuoro chamber choir, soloist Sanna Kurki-Suonio

2003               First performance and additional performances of Ilona Korhonen’s ”Marian virsi” with Vantaan kamarikuoro chamber choir

2003-              Ilona ja Huvina, concerts in Helsinki

2003               Vonkale: ”Koivu kasvoi” concert, commissioned by Kihaus Folk Festival, Rääkkylä

2003               A concert of Stone Age music, commissioned by Kierikki Stone Age Centre, Yli-Ii

2003               Singer in ”Vauvaoratorio” (comp. Heikki Laitinen), Hämeenlinna Church

2002-              Researcher and musician (notation), Finnish Literature Society’s runo-singing research project

1999-              Member of Voice Theatre Iki-Turso: singer, voice artist

1999/2002       Soloist at the Finnish National Opera (Tapio Tuomela: ”Äidit ja Tyttäret”, dir. Erik Söderblom)

1998-              Artistic director, Vantaan kamarikuoro ry

2002               Club manager, Korvia hivelevän musiikin klubi, Helsinki

2001               Soloist with the Santa Claus Orchestra at a Christmas Festival in Hong Kong

2000               Vonkale: ”Kaikki on Tarjan syytä”, a concert with Ilona Korhonen’s compositions

2000               Carelian Sound ensemble; performances at the Wasshoi! Festival in Osaka, Japan

1994-2000       Artistic director, entertainment choir Sonante

1999               Workshops and performances in Nampula and Maputo, Mozambique, as a member of PAND – Artists For Peace group

1995-              Folk singer and soloist, various concerts and performances in Finland and abroad

1995-              Arrangements for various mixed choirs, including Vantaan kamarikuoro chamber choir and Sonante

1992-1997       Singer, Kampin Laulu chamber choir

1992-1996       Singer and composer, Berenicen hiukset folk music ensemble


2012-2013       Jyväskylä city theatre: ”Myrskyluodon Maija” , directing singers, folk singing consultant

2006               Monita and Kassandra ry: ”Erilainen Kalevala” stage production, director Inkeri Kivimäki; composer and musical director

2004               Kassandra ry: “Aina jonkun tytär” theatre project, director Ritva Siikala; composer and musical director; premiered April 11th in Helsinki

2003               Singer in ”Vauvaoratorio” (comp. Heikki Laitinen), Hämeenlinna Church

1999/2002       Soloist at the Finnish National Opera: ”Äidit ja Tyttäret”, dir. Erik Söderblom

2002               Voice Theatre Iki-Turso, singer, voice artist: ”Imaanin Huuto”, Cairo International Festival For Experimental Theatre, Egypt

2002               Voice Theatre Iki-Turso, singer, voice artist: ”Imaanin Huuto”, Ateneum-sali

2002               Voice Theatre Iki-Turso, singer, voice artist: ”Soivan metsän sinfonia”, Suomussalmi

2002               Voice Theatre Iki-Turso, singer, voice artist: performance in celebration of Kemi regional festival

2002               Voice Theatre iki-Turso, singer, voice artist: ”Hrrrmmm!” at the Children’s Theatre Festival, Kuusankoski

2002               Voice Theatre Iki-Turso, singer, voice artist: musical guide in the Soivat opastukset project, Helsinki City Museum

2002               Voice Theatre iki-Turso, singer, voice artist: a children’s concert, the Time Of Music Festival in Viitasaari

2002               Koko Theatre, singer: ”In the View of the Wise” by Jovanka Trbojevic in Slaavilaisen irrationalismin ilta 3

2001               Voice Theatre iki-Turso, singer, voice artist: concert in connection with an international singing pedagogues’ seminar, Opera House, Helsinki

2001               Voice Theatre Iki-Turso, singer, voice artist: ”Imaanin huuto” at Tenalji von Fersen in Suomenlinna, Ääniä Festival, Helsinki

2000               Voice Theatre Iki-Turso, singer, voice artist: ”Kalevala” stage production, Art Berezillia avant garde theatre festival in Kiev, Ukraine

1999               Voice Theatre Iki-Turso, singer: a series of 14 runo-singing concerts, Omapohja stage at the Finnish National Theatre, Helsinki

1999               Q-teatteri, runo-singer and actor: ”Sammon ryöstö”, dir. Atro Kahiluoto, Helsinki-Reykjavik


1997-2011        Conductor, Artistic director, Vantaan kamarikuoro – Vantaa Chamber Choir

2002-              Teacher, Sibelius Academy (subjects include folk music theory, folk singing and ensemble playing)

2003               Director of musicians in Tanssipromenadi, Sibelius Academy / Theatre Academy

2000-2001       Folk music teacher, Mikkeli Music Institute

2001-              Substitute teacher in various primary and secondary schools around the Uusimaa region

1998               Director of singers, ”Otin nuotin notkiamman”, a folk song musical by Raisa Vattulainen at the Theatre Academy


2007-2011       Assistant, Sibelius Academy

1995-2011            Musical Director, Vantaan kamarikuoro chamber choir

2002-              Researcher and musician, research and notation project at The Finnish Literature Society

2001-2002       Office secretary, Sibelius Academy Concert Office

1995-1997       Office secretary and department secretary, Sibelius Academy Admission Office


2012               The Kalevala Women’s Association, Larin Paraske Award

2007               Tampere Vocal Music Festival 2007, chorus review: prize for conducting

2007               Audience’s choice award for the piece ”Tammi” in composition competition arranged by Tritonuksen laulajat chamber choir

2007               Finalist in the composition competition arranged by Turun konservatorion kamarikuoro chamber choir with the piece ”Onko laivoi issoin laivoi?” (January 20th 2007)

2005               A special mention for the piece “Suruvirsi” for mixed choir (SSAATTBB) in the composition competition arranged by the choir Grex Musicus

2004               ”Kehtolaulu” for female choir and a soloist, III prize in composition competition arranged by Suomen naiskuoroliitto


2013               National Council for Music, one year artist grant

2012               Elvis ry, 5000 € for composing

2012               Kalevala Koru cultural foundation, 5000 €, for composing

2007               Finnish Cultural Foundation, 16 000 € for doctoral studies

2006               Niilo Helander foundation, 5000 € for doctoral studies

2005               National Council for Music, one year artist grant, starting July 2006

2005               Sibelius Academy Foundation, 3600 € for preparing a doctoral diploma concert

2004               Kalevala Koru cultural foundation, 2000 €, composing a runo-singing piece

2004               Georg Malmstén Foundation, 1000 € for composing and arranging

2001-2004       Finnish Cultural Foundation and Finnish Literature Society SKS, a 2.5-year grant for participating in SKS’s runo-song research project

1999-2004       Numerous grants for various projects carried out with a team


2012               ”Tulin kuin tulikipuna – Larin Parasken runolauluopissa”, written work for Doctor of Music degree

2009               Ilona Korhonen ensemble: Tarkka pää, tania mieli (comp. Ilona Korhonen) (Ääniä 2009)

2006               Ilona ja Huvina: Aulis (Ääniä 2006)

2005               Vantaan kamarikuoro solisteineen: Marian virsi (comp. Ilona Korhonen), released March 13th, 2005 (VKK)

2004               Vonkale: Seppo, released February 26th (Roima)

2003               Tapio Tuomela: Äidit ja Tyttäret

2001               Compilation: Friiti 3

2000               Sonante: Parasta ennen

1999               Tapio Tuomela: Jokk

1999               Kamarikuoro Kampin laulu: Kadonneet lahjat

1998               Kamarikuoro Kampin laulu: Something Rich and Strange


2003-              The Finnish Society of Composers and Lyricists ELVIS ry

2000-              Finnish Literature Society


English – excellent

Swedish – good

German – basics

Italian – basics


2010-              Pukkilan Martat, member of the board

2010               Neulekirja – Tähkäpää ja muut lempineuleet – a knitting book published by Gummerus 2010


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