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Photo by Jouni Kuru

Kristina Bogataj is a Slovenian choral conductor and educator, based in Helsinki, Finland. She primarily acts as an artistic director of three Finnish choirs (including her vocal group Lyckokatter), and collaborates with several others in a project format (EMO Ensemble, Kaari-ensemble, etc.). She has also served as an opera chorus master (most recent La belle Hélène 2020). Based in Helsinki, she is also active as a singer, pianist, interdisciplinary artist, and music educator.

Kristina graduated from the Academy of Music in Ljubljana, Slovenia (2017), and continues her studies at Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, Finland (2017–). A pianist from an early age, she took part in music competitions, playing in duos, chamber groups, and orchestras (e. g. TEMSIG – Competition for Young Musicians of the Republic of Slovenia). While attending Gimnazija Kranj high school with its rich musical life and performing with Gimnazija Kranj Symphony Orchestra, Kristina was also introduced to the dynamic Slovenian choral scene. She became a member of several prominent Slovenian choirs, with the most notable roles and achievements as a member of Carmen manet female choir from her native Kranj (winners of Eurovision Choir of the Year in Riga, 2017).

During her conducting studies, Kristina performed in various productions, concerts, performances, and operas – as a conductor, singer, or pianist. She has participated in numerous masterclasses and seminars (Sir Roger Norrington, David Hill, Justin Doyle, Nicole Corti, Andre van der Merwe, Gary Graden, etc.). Her work was recognized at the festivals and choral conducting competitions in Slovenia (Maribor 2020) and abroad (Versailles 2019, Svendborg 2021).

Kristina follows the inspiration for her work through curiosity and collaborations with colleagues from diverse artistic fields. She performed in several Early Music Department productions (Sibelius Academy, 2020), and MuTeFest – Festival of the Music Technology Department (Sibelius Academy, 2019). Her concerts are regularly accompanied with graphic designs of Slovenian artists (Ana Belčič, Uršula Špela Kralj etc.). She also continues her collaboration with PhD in One Night indisciplinary collective (2019–).

Besides a Master’s in Music Pedagogy, Kristina has also concluded the 3-year teacher’s training in Willems® music pedagogical principles. Her most fruitful pedagogical collaboration took place at DoReMi Music Center Bled (2013–2017), which specializes in making music with students with an autistic spectrum disorder.

Kristina’s work merges honesty and curiosity with high-level performing, through utilizing an individual’s musicianship and respect – towards themselves and the world around us.

Kristina teaches Music Playschool for ISM Finland in Helsinki.

Q&A

Where are you from and what instruments do you play?
I’m from Kranj, Slovenia – but these days also from Töölö in Helsinki! My first instument is piano, and keyboard in general – these days I use it mostly for my work with choirs and continuo. Since I primarily work as a choral conductor, I also sing and accompany. When studying pedagogy, we also learned some soprano and alto recorder, but not sure how safe my playing would be these days.

If you weren’t a musician what would you be doing?
I’d probably teach downhill skiing – I obtained my licence back in Slovenia. On the second thought, I might also be a secretary, since I like planning and empty email inboxes.

Where did you study?
Firstly, I studied law at the University in Ljubljana, but changed to music – I finished my master’s in music pedagogy at the Academy of Music in Ljubljana in 2017. There were also numerous meaningful and inspiring masterclasses and other experiences. Let’s see where to next!

Where are you studying now?
I started my 2nd master’s – in choral condcuting at Sibelius Academy (2017–) which I’m about to wrap up in 2021.

What was the thing that got you interested in music?
It’s an activity that is honest, emotional, involved, commited, fun! It makes you live fully and work for it. Plus you make others happy with your work. What’s there not to love.

Why are you in Finland?
Music! And life – there are many things to like and appreciate here, especially people.

Who is your favourite musician/composer?
Bach, Beethoven and Arvö Pärt. And early Nightwish.

What has been your most special musical experience to date?
I conducted a “corona concert” with 70 different performers: the string orchestra on stage, tenors and basses in permanto, altos in the 1st balcony, and sopranos on the 2nd. That concert was also my first continuo gig. No koronavilkut blinked which is close to a miracle.

Do you have any secret/not-so-secret (unmusical) talents?
I ski! And I was told I make good pasta and korvapuusti.

Do you have a guilty pleasure?
Popcorn in the evenings. I also do my scheduling and planning when I should be working. I call it active procrastination.

Tea or coffee?
Tea is compulsory, coffee optional. With oatmilk.

Cats or dogs?
Both are funny, are they not? (I love memes.)

Salad or Pizza?
Both if I make them myself, but pizza is often tastier.

What is your favourite country to visit?
HOME. Can’t wait, it has been too long.

What is your favourite season?
Late spring.

What is your favourite food?
Cottage-cheese or walnut dumplings with breadcrumbs.

Do you have hobbies?
Yeah, I do, strange for a musician, right? I do yoga and climb. In Finland I miss hiking. I like to read and follow the situation in the world. I also like to learn and observe people. They are an interesting species.