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Heini Kärkkäinen studied piano at the Sibelius Academy under Liisa Pohjola and Jacques Rouvier in Paris. She won the Ilmari Hannikainen Piano Competition in 1984 and two years later got the second prize in the Maj Lind- Piano Competition. In 199, Kärkkäinen was nominated Young Artist of the Espoo International Piano Festival.

She has performed as soloist with orchestras such as the Finnish Radio Orchestra, Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, Avanti Chamber Orchestra, Tapiola Sinfonietta, Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra, Orquesta Ciudad de Granada, Orchestra della

Photo: Minna Hatinen

Svizzera Italiano, and the Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra. She also plays chamber music regularly in Europe and the United States.

Kärkkäinen has played many world premieres including compositions by Jouni Kaipainen, Mikko Heiniö, Magnus Lindberg, Aulis Sallinen and Olli Koskelin.


Kärkkäinen has made several prize-winning recordings. Her duo recording with Jan-Erik Gustafsson (Ondine) was nominated “The disc of the year” by Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE) in 1994.  The disc of music by Saint-Saëns (BIS Records) was British BBC Music Magazine's disc of the month in March 2007, and Gramophone Magazine included it in its list of recommended recordings. Other recordings include the Sibelius disc with Pekka Kuusisto (Ondine), Bartók Sonata for two pianos and two percussion with Paavali Jumppanen, FRO and Sakari Oramo (Warner Classics), The Bull and His Herdsman, music by Ralf Gothóni (Ondine), and chamber music by Jaakko Kuusisto (BIS Records)


Heini Kärkkäinen is the Principal Lecturer in the Tampere University of Applied Sciences. She is also the Artistic director of the new chamber music festival Tampere Chamber Music, "music and wellbeing play together", which combines concerts, lectures, clinic workshops and masterclasses. The first festival was held on January 2017 in Tampere and got wonderful feedback. The festival happens annually in the end of January.


In autumn 2018, Kärkkäinen took part in the project North around the Baltic Sea where she performed music from composers hailing from countries in the Baltic region. In 2019, her performances included festivals like Oulu Music Festival, Rotterdam Philharmonic Sibelius Festival, International Music Festival Cáceres, Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival, Staunton Music Festival and Oxford  Chamber Music Festival.

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