Martti Rousi, Artistic Director
Martti Rousi is one of the leading cellists of his generation. He is internationally known both as a soloist and a pedagogue. After playing piano for 2 years Martti Rousi begun his cello studies inspired by the strong Finnish cello school. His early teachers were Timo Hanhinen and Seppo Kimanen. In 1979 he moved to the Sibelius- Academy to continue his studies with Prof Arto Noras. At age of 21, he won the first prize at Turku cello competition and was invited as a soloist by all major Finnish symphony orchestras. In 1985 he received Fulbright scholarship to study with Prof Janos Starker at the Indiana University winning the annual cello competition there. Between 1977 and 1983 he regularly had masterclasses with William Pleeth and Valter Deshpalj and took private lessons with Natalia Gutman.
In 1986 Rousi won the silver medal at the VIII Tchaikovsky competition in Moscow. Since that he has been performing with leading Scandinavian and European orchestras like Helsinki, Stockholm and Oslo Radio symphonies,Copenhagen Philharmonic,CBSO in Birmingham, Mariinsky orchestra,Moscow Symphony, Polish and Hungarian national orchestras, Statsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfaltz, Shanghai and Johannesburg Philharmonic working with conductors like Esa-Pekka Salonen, Valeri Gergiev, Okko Kamu, Osmo Vänskä, Sakari Oramo, Olli Mustonen, Ari Rasilainen, Leif Segerstam, Emmanuel Krivine, Bernhart Klee, Joseph Swensen and Muhai Tang. Rousi has an extensive repertoire with smaller orchestras from baroque to modern appearing with Moscow, Munich, Ostrobotnia, Tallinn and Toulouse chamber orchestras.
During 1990s Rousi played in piano trio with violinist Leonidas Kavakos and pianist Peter Nagy, performing also Beethoven triple and Brahms double concertos. In recitals, he appears with pianists like Olli Mustonen, Kathryn Stott, Henri Sigfridsson, Laura Mikkola, Massimo Somenzi and Juhani Lagerspetz. He is also invited to many leading chamber music festivals all over the world. Between 1993 and 2009 Rousi was the artistic director of Turku music festival, during his years many legendary artists like Svjatoslav Richter, Yehudi Menuhin, Vladimir Azkenazy, Valeri Gergiev and Lang Lang appeared there. In 2010 he became the artistic director of SIBAFEST in Helsinki, 2010-2011 he was artistic director of Sibelius –series at Verkatehdas in Hämeenlinna. 2012 he was named artistic director of Suvisoitto in Sysmä.
He has been serving as a jury member for major international competitions like the XIV Tchaikovsky competition in Moscow 2011and 2015, Vittorio Gui in Florence, Lyon International duo competition, Eleanore Schoenfeld competition, Mravinsky competition, Solistpriset in Stockholm and Paulo cello competition in Helsinki. Since 1995 Rousi has been professor of cello at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki. His cello class there is attracting talents from around the world. In 2016 he was invited to be a guest professor at the Shanghai Conservatory of music.
In 2010 Rousi formed a cello ensemble Sibelius academy cello virtuosi with his best students and since they have been performing in prominent concert halls like Mariinsky concert hall, Tampere talo and Verkatehdas in Hämeenlinna. Summer 2017 they were invited to prestigious Stars of the White Nights festival. Rousi is invited to do masterclasses in leading academies on all continents, he regularly teaches at the House of Music in St Petersburg. His recordings include several solo and chamber recordings for ONDINE and FINLANDIA labels. He plays on cellos by Carlo Giuseppe Testore from 1690 and J-B Lefevre from 1760, his favorite bow is FX Tourte from 1810.
Laura Martin, Associate Director
Laura Martin is one of the rare musicians to have built her own instrument. She was then 17, and this cello became her musical partner for several years. This unforgettable process opened to her the universe of sound making from its deepest origin. Born in Paris in 1992, Laura Martin began playing the cello in France before to continue her studies at the Brussels’ Royal Conservatory with Marie Hallynck and later on with Martti Rousi at the Sibelius Academy of Helsinki. Laura has participated in various projects and masterclasses such as the Festival Pablo Casals, the Villecroze Academy, the Cello Biennale of Amsterdam (2016), the 9th Osaka chamber music competition, and the Creative Dialogue IX with Kaija Saariaho and Anssi Karttunen.
Laura Martin has also collaborated with artists like the violinist Mihaela Martin, the pianists Kyoko Ashimoto, Martti Rautio, Valeria Resjan, Irina Zahharenkova, and the soprano Piia Komsi. With the cello ensemble of Martti Rousi, she has had the opportunity to perform at the Mariinsky Theater in St Petersburg and at the Teatro Rossini of Pesaro. Most recently, in the summer of 2018, she was invited to be a Professional Performance Artist at the Boston Music Institute’s 12 Hour Masterclasses with members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and then participated in the music festival of Santander in Spain. Based in Helsinki, Laura sometimes performs as a substitute with the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra and the Finnish Radio Orchestra.