Photo by Jouni Kuru
Kristina Bogataj is a Slovenian choral conductor, singer and educator. Based in Helsinki, Finland, she collaborates with EMO Ensemble (2019–), Tapiola choir (2021–), RiiNa female choir (2021–), and Lyckokatter vocal group (2018–). She has also served as an opera conductor (Äärimmäisyys 2021), and chorus master for Helsinki’s opera productions (La belle Hélène, Rigoletto, Norma etc.).
Kristina has master’s degrees from the Academy of Music in Ljubljana (2017) and from the Sibelius Academy (2021), with choral conducting as her major, basso continuo as a side subject, and proficiency recitals in solo singing and piano. A pianist from an early age at music school in her native Kranj (teacher Lea Jugovic), 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 (Frieder Bernius, Sir Roger Norrington, Paul Hillier with Theatre of Voices, Georg Grün, Gary Graden, Mathieu Romano, Mikael Wedar, Johannes Prinz, Justin Doyle, Romans Vanags, Andre van der Merwe, Andrew Parrot etc.). Her work was recognized at festivals, masterclasses and choral conducting competitions in Slovenia (Maribor 2020–2022) and abroad (Versailles 2019, Svendborg 2021, Torino 2021, Koper 2021, Parma 2021).
Kristina follows the inspiration for her work through curiosity and collaborations with colleagues from diverse artistic fields. She continues to study early music at Sibelius Academy’s Early Music Department, and has performed at MuTeFest – Festival of the Music Technology Department (2019). Her concerts are regularly accompanied by 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 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. She continues to work as a teaching plan advisor and music teacher and curricula advisor with the International school of Music Finland (2017–) and multicultural center Caisa (2022–) in Helsinki.
Kristina’s work merges authenticity and curiosity with high-level performing, through utilizing an individual’s musicianship and respect – towards themselves and the world around us. Read more about Kristina.
Kristina teaches voice, piano, and Music Playschool for ISM Finland in Helsinki.
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.
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?
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.