Aili Ikonen is a versatile Helsinki-based vocalist who has performed in numerous esteemed venues both in and outside her home country. She has featured as a vocalist for UMO Jazz Orchestra and Norbotten Big Band on the orchestra’s domestic tour in 2011.
Ikonen leads her own band Aili Ikonen Ensemble that debuted in the then newly inaugurated Musiikkitalo (the Helsinki Music Centre) in November of 2011. She works as a composer and a lyricist in such groups as Kvalda, Korpi Ensemble, and Hereä in addition to being a member in the following: Aili Ikonen & Tribute to Ella, Panu Savolainen Proprius, and Aili Ikonen & HERD: Jazzbasilli. Aili Ikonen & Tribute to Ella released their debut album in 2013 with critical acclaim. Kvalda, one of Ikonen’s earliest groups, won the Young Nordic Jazz Comets competition in 2004, and the Christmas of 2011 saw the release of their third album, Blindfold.
Ikonen stepped in for the soprano Essi Wuorela in 2010 on the Christmas tour of Rajaton, one of the most celebrated Finnish vocal ensembles. She has also performed as a guest vocalist for the hip hop group Don Johnson Big Band. In the autumn of 2011 she performed with HERD at the opening ceremony of Musiikkitalo (Helsinki Music Centre), which was aired by YLE, the Finnish Broadcasting Company. Ikonen’s cooperation with HERD has continued recently with the concert series titled “Jazzbasilli” where the group explores jazzy Finnish popular songs. In March of 2010 UMO Jazz Orchestra performed, with Ikonen on vocals, Outi Tarkiainen’s composition “Metsän hiljaisuuteen” (“Into The Woodland Silence”), which was tailored especially for Ikonen’s voice. In 2009 Ikonen appeared in the role of an IT mogul, Gill Bates, in the contemporary opera Ihmiskunnan rakastajat (Lovers of Mankind), which combined elements from jazz and contemporary music. In 2012 - 2013 Ikonen was seen on stage at Svenska Teatern (the Swedish Theatre) in the musical Kristina från Duvemåla (Kristina from Duvemåla) composed by the Abba frontmen Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson.
Ikonen grew up in Korpilahti, Central Finland, surrounded by music and all kinds of musical instruments. Her first instrument, which she began to play at the age of five and has played ever since, was the violin. Even though she did not abandon the violin, it was singing that begun to attract her in her upper secondary school years. In 2001 Ikonen started her studies at The Finnish Music Conservatory in Jyväskylä where she would meet the members of the jazz quartet Kvalda. After graduation, in 2004, she moved to Helsinki to study jazz and folk music at the Sibelius Academy. She graduated with a Master's degree in 2014.
ed. Annamari Innanen 28.8.14