Artistic Director

Dr. Riikka Pietilainen-Caffrey

Riikka imageDr. Riikka Pietilainen-Caffrey is a visiting assistant professor of choral music at Whitman College. Dr. Caffrey holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the City College of City University of New York as well as Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees from the University of Colorado.

Dr. Caffrey, a native Finn, has toured Europe and South America with the internationally-acclaimed Finnish choir, Philomela. While in New York, she founded and conducted Las Sirenas, the women's chamber choir, at the City College of New York. The group premiered works by American and Finnish composers. In the spring 2005 Las Sirenas premiered Caffrey's ten-movement composition Viel valkee aamu for female choir and percussion. The entire work was based on her grandmother's diary entries and poetry she wrote during WWII, as she fled from Karelia to Finland as a refugee. The setting was through-choreographed by Finnish choreographer Hanna Kivioja.

Dr. Caffrey is an active conductor and vocal coach and is frequently invited as a soloist, adjudicator, and guest clinician for a number of schools and choral ensembles, both in Europe and within the United States. Fall 2013 she was teaching choirs and western classical voice at the American University of Beirut, Lebanon. Her research interests include vocal pedagogy, the practical approach to editing and performing villancicos, and the mirror neuron system. Her article "Monkey See, Monkey Do - The Choral Conductor and the Mirror Neuron System" was recently published in the Choral Journal. She also presented on the same topic at the Colorado ACDA convention in July 2014. Dr. Caffrey is also an avid skier and certified ski instructor. Her current research focuses on cross-disciplinary research on mirror neurons in choral setting and movement analysis, as taught in ski schools.