Born in Helsinki, Finland, accordionist Ilona Suomalainen graduated with a MA from the Royal Academy of Music in 2017, studying with Professor Owen Murray. She now performs as a freelance accordionist across the UK, working with orchestras including the Philharmonia, Aurora Orchestra, Opera Holland Park, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Welsh National Opera.
A diverse performer, she recently played in the West End production of 'Fiddler on the Roof' and featured in a UK tour with pop singer 'Irit' supporting Lisa Stansfield.
Before moving to London, Ilona studied at the Sibelius-Academy in Helsinki with Professors Matti Rantanen, Veli Kujala and Mika Väyrynen. In 2006, she won first prize at the Finnish National Youth Accordion Competition and in 2011, her accordion trio BCH won the Chamber Music, Accordion Orchestra and Overall categories at the International Accordion Competition in Pula, Croatia. The trio also received the prize for the highest points ever awarded in the competition's history.
A passionate teacher and educator, Ilona currently teaches accordion at the International School of London and privately across London. As part of her studies at the Sibelius-Academy, she completed a specialist course in music pedagogy including teaching all ages and abilities from early years to university.