Kristiina Ilmonen

professor of folk music


Musician, composer, educator and researcher Kristiina Ilmonen (born 1966 in Kauhava, Finland) has been creating traditional and contemporary folk music and free improvisation in various ensembles and other musical projects for over three decades. She specializes in woodwind instruments such as Northern flutes and pipes and the ancient Finnish reed instruments liru and mänkeri. She is a member of the bands Subsonic, Wind on Wind, The Helsinki Koto Ensemble and Suunta. Suunta ensemble is touring with top UK storyteller Nick Hennessey with a Kalevala production "Fire in the North Sky" 2014 onwards. Kristiina currently leads her own trio Sysihai, combining archaic winds and percussion with live electronics and programming. She also performs solo with folk winds.

Ilmonen worked as Head of the Sibelius Academy Folk Music Department 1998–2004 and has been teaching there and developing the department’s syllabus, philosophy and methodology since 1989. She has lectured about Finnish folk music, artistic research and assessment in Finland and abroad. She is the Chief External Evaluator of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland since 2010.

Kristiina was elected one of the Womex Seven Samurai of 2009 and has been active in various positions of trust in the field of folk music education in Finland and abroad. She has been involved in several EU projects and international collaborations as an organiser, administrator, steering group member and advisor. She was invited as an expert to participate in the International Colloquium "Culture and Creativity as vectors of Development", organised by the European Commission in Brussels 2009.

After graduating as Doctor of Music from the artistic line in 2014, Kristiina Ilmonen will start her five-year post as the Professor of Folk Music at the Sibelius Academy Folk Music Department. Her research interests include artistic research, archaic Finno-Ugric shepherd music, improvisation, historical Northern wind instruments, academic assessment and folk music pedagogy.

participating in

  • WOMEX 2014
  • WOMEX 2011
  • WOMEX 2010
  • WOMEX 2009
  • WOMEX 2008
  • WOMEX 2007