Present Conductor

Jukka Rantamäki began his violin studies under Géza Szilvay's tuition and continued his studies with Jouko Ignatius, Kaija Saarikettu and Alexander Vinnitsky at the Sibelius Academy. In his childhood, Rantamäki was the concertmaster in the Helsinki Junior Strings (at present called 'The Helsinki Strings') and he has been the Associate Concertmaster at the Tapiola Sinfonietta since the orchestra was founded in 1987. He also plays regularly in Avanti! Chamber Orchestra.

Founders Csaba ja Géza Szilvay

The founders of the Helsinki Junior Strings (at present the Helsinki Strings), in 1972, are the world-renowned music pedagogues Géza Szilvay and Csaba Szilvay. They conducted the Helsinki Strings until their retirement in 2010.

Prof. Géza Szilvay was born in Budapest in 1943. He studied the violin at the Béla Bartók Conservatory and violin pedagogics at the Budapest Music Academy, where he graduated in 1966. He also studied law and political science at the ELTE University in Budapest and took his doctor's degree in 1970. Since 1971 he taught the violin at the East Helsinki Music Institute and since 1978 at the Sibelius Academy as well. In 1984 he was appointed Principal of the East Helsinki Music Institute.

Csaba Szilvay was born in Budapest, Hungary in 1941. He studied the cello at the Béla Bartók Conservatory and the Budapest Music Academy as a student of Professor Antal Friss. After having received his diploma in Budapest in 1970, he studied at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki with Professor Erkki Rautio. From 1971 to 1976 he taught the cello at the Jyväskylä Conservatory in Finland. Since 1976 he was a teacher at the East Helsinki Music Institute and since 1978 also at the Sibelius Academy.

The Szilvay brothers have gained international recognition both as string pedagogues and as conductors and educators of children's and youth orchestras. In recognition of their work for youth culture they were awarded the Knight Order of the Finnish Lion in 1981, The Culture Prize of Finland in 1983, The Hungarian State Award for Cultural Activity in 1990, the Culture Prize of Helsinki in 1995, the “Pro Musica” Award in 1999, “Accent” Prize of the Association of Finnish Music Schools 2005 and International Kodály Prize 2007.

The Colourstrings approach, developed by the Szilvay brothers, has gained an international reputation and is now taught all over the world. A number of special Colourstrings institutions – schools, centres and societies – have been established in several European countries in order to realise and further this child-centred teaching concept.