Formed in 1997, the Helsinki Baroque Orchestra is a young-generation line-up offering audiences a chance to hear classical music with freshness and originality. The use of period instruments is a part of the orchestra's striving to discover new perspectives on the performance of early music in a communicative way. The make-up of the orchestra varies according to the work in hand. Engagements during the 2003/04 season included appearances at the Helsinki, Bruges, Ligugé, Varna, and Sofia music festivals. The patron of the Helsinki Baroque Orchestra since 2003 has been Deputy Mayor Pekka Sauri and the artistic director Aapo Häkkinen.
Aapo Häkkinen (1976) began his musical education as a chorister at the Helsinki Cathedral. He took up the harpsichord at the age of 13, studying with Elina Mustonen and Olli Porthan (organ) at the Sibelius Academy in his native city. From 1995 to 1998 he studied at the Amsterdam Sweelinck Conservatoire with Bob van Asperen, and from 1996 to 2000 with Pierre Hantaï in Paris. Immediately after obtaining his soloist's diploma in 1998, Aapo Häkkinen won second prize and the prize of the Belgian radio and television VRT-3 at the prestigious Bruges International Harpsichord Competition. He was also awarded the Norddeutscher Rundfunk special prize Musikpreis 1997 for his interpretations of Italian music. Aapo Häkkinen has appeared as a soloist in Scandinavia, Holland, Belgium, France, Germany, England, Italy, Portugal, Estonia, Russia, and Slovakia (Festival de La Roque-d'Anthéron, Juillet Musical de Saignon, Flanders Festival, Bachfest der Neuen Bachgesellschaft, Bachfest Leipzig, Greifswalder Bachwoche, Musica Antiqua Nürnberg, Concerto Belgais, Festival Musica Antica a Magnano, Tallinn Harpsichord Days, Kuhmo Chamber Music, Helsinki Festival, Vantaa Baroque Week, Turku Music Festival, Lahti Organ Festival...). He is also known as a distinguished chamber musician and director (Helsinki Baroque Orchestra, Musica Aeterna Bratislava, Orchestra del Teatro Olimpico di Vicenza, Croatian Baroque Ensemble, Solamente Naturali, Viria Baroque, Opus X, Lohja Philharmonics, Les Talens Lyriques, La Sfera Armoniosa). He has recorded for the labels Deux-Elles and Alba, and for European radio and television companies such as NDR, BR, VRT, CZ, SR, and YLE. Besides the harpsichord, Aapo Häkkinen regularly performs on the organ and on the clavichord. He has commissioned, premiered, and recorded music for harpsichord and clavichord by the Finnish composer Eero Hämeenniemi, and premiered chamber music by Jukka Tiensuu. He has edited the complete organ works of Giovanni Maria Casini for Edition Escobar. Aapo Häkkinen teaches at the Sibelius Academy.