YL Male Voice Choir (Ylioppilaskunnan Laulajat) is a Finnish pioneer of male voice choral music, performing actively in Finland and around the world. In addition to its a cappella repertoire, the choir performs and records with the most prominent orchestras and conductors of the world. Several of YL’s recordings have received international prizes. In Finland, YL’s Christmas Concerts and Spring Concerts have become important events for both choir and audience.
Founded in 1883 within the Helsinki University, the YL is Finland’s oldest Finnish language choir. The choir still continues its independent and versatile work. YL’s cultural merits, long history of concerts, several tours abroad and numerous critically acclaimed recordings have established the choir as one of the most prominent male choirs in the world. Since its birth, YL has recognised its responsibility in commissioning, performing and recording Finnish and foreign choral music. Most of Jean Sibelius’ most famous works for male choir were commissioned and premiered by YL. Today the choir is known as Sibelius’ natural standard-bearer and a pioneer of contemporary music. Einojuhani Rautavaara has been one of the contemporary composers who have dedicated many works for YL.
Starting from the world premiere of Kullervo, the choir has performed this piece a.o. with Paavo Berglund and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Leif Segerstam and the Helsinki Philharmonic, Osmo Vänskä and the Lahti Symphony and Minnesota Orchestra, Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Pietari Inkinen and the Munich Philharmonic, Japan Philharmonic and Konzerthaus Orchestra Berlin, and Dima Slobodeniouk and the Bern Symphony Orchestra. Further performances of Kullervo have led YL to Glasgow, Singapore and Mexico City with the leading local symphony orchestras, and to the Ludwigsburger Schlossfestspiele with the Festival Orchestra, conducted by Pietari Inkinen. YL has also been performing other orchestral works like Robert Kajanus’ Aino, Armas Launis’ Aslak Hetta, Arnold Schönberg’s Gurrelieder, Dmitri Shostakovitch’s Symphony No. 13 “Babi Jar”, Igor Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex, and Uljas Pulkkis’ Neito, a symphony commissioned and premiered by YL to celebrate the choir’s 125th anniversary in 2008.
The YL Male Voice Choir has been conducted by many central figures to Finnish music, such as P.J. Hannikainen, Heikki Klemetti, Selim Palmgren, Martti Turunen, Ensti Pohjola, Heikki Peltola and, from 1980 – 2010, Matti Hyökki. YL’s conductor since April 2010 is Pasi Hyökki.