Dr. Riikka Pietiläinen-Caffrey is a visiting assistant professor of choral music at Whitman College. Riikka 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.
Riikka, 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 of 2005 Las Sirenas premiered Riikka's ten-movement composition Viel valkee aamu for female choir and percussion at multiple venues in New York City, including The Museum of Biblical Art. One of the movements, Kottarainen, was recently published as an SATB version by Alliance Music Publications. The Finland 100 Chorus will perform this piece at FinnFest 2017 at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis as a part of the celebration of one hundred years of Finnish independence, in attendance will be Sauli Niinistö, the president of Finland.
Riikka is an active conductor and vocal coach and is frequently invited as a soloist, adjudicator, and guest clinician for schools and choral ensembles, both in Europe and within the United States. In the fall of 2013 she taught choirs and western classical voice at the American University of Beirut, Lebanon. Her choirs at Whitman have received enthusiastic reviews on their beautiful choral tone and engaging performances. In the Fall of 2016, the Whitman Chamber Singers contributed via video recording to Zodiak Dance Theater's live production of Michaela- The Queen of Everything in Helsinki. Riikka's choirs have future engagements scheduled in Europe and in the US for 2018 and 2019, collaborating with the acclaimed Finnish choreographer Laura Pietiläinen.
Riikka's research interests include vocal pedagogy, mindfulness in choirs, and the mirror neuron system. Her article "Monkey See, Monkey Do - The Choral Conductor and the Mirror Neuron System" was recently published in the Unites States in The Choral Journal as well as in the Australian National Choral Association's national publication, Sing Out!