Valerija Iljin

Valerija Iljinaite

(born 10th March, 1995 in Panevezys, Lithuania), is a Lithuanian operatic lyric soprano, songwriter, actress, musical theatre and vocal coach, music educator. Valerija was born into a family of teachers, her mother is a Russian and Lithuanian language teacher, and her father - a professional musician and composer. In her early childhood Valerija’s father began teaching his daughter to play the piano. Valerija was taught English, sang in the children‘s choir, and studied folk and contemporary dance at choreographer Diana Ciobanu's dance school. At the age of five, Valerija began learning to play the violin at the music school in Panevezys, in the class led by V. Kudukiene. During this time, she became a winner of many national and international contests, and performed as a soloist with Chamber Orchestra. Upon deciding to continue with her music studies in M. K. Ciurlionis Arts School, and with the help of her current teacher N. Prasceviciene, Valerija discovered her talent for singing. Her first singing teacher was an expert music teacher Irena Gustiene.

The beginning of career in music - 2009

Encouraged by her teachers, Valerija began participating in many singing contests, many of which she won. These are the won prizes over the year: Aukstaitija talent show ‘10 points’, ‘JP music’ and ‘VU records’ special prize Festival - ’Stairway to heaven’ - nominated the most successful contestant International contest ‘Vejavaikiai’- first prize. Contest ‘Your chance’- the most successful contestant Contest ’Little star’ - 2nd place together with brother E. Iljinas. TV project ‘Lithuania's Got Talent’ Valerija reached the semi-finals, where she performed along with the dance studio ‘DIANA’. Valerija graduated from Panevezys Music School in violin and singing, and then continued mastering her singing skills with a Jazz voice professor Steponas Januska.

Career boom - 2010 In 2010

Valerija began cooperating with a Jazz performer and composer, her mentor R. Bagdonas, and later was invited to participate in R. Bagdonas’ anniversary night, where the biggest Lithuanian Jazz performers, like A. Joffe, L. Sinkarenka, and V. Labutis played. Valerija performed a piece called ‘Bohemian blues’. That same year Valerija became a regional winner of the prestigious national song contest ‘Dainu dainele’, and the finalist in the festival ‘We are the World’. She participated in the TV project ‘Talent ring’, and became the most successful contestant at the Independence Commemoration song festival in Panevezys. At the beginning of 2011, Valerija sang along R. Bagdonas’ led band ‘Jazz comfort’ at the Jazz club ‘Randevu’, which became Valerija’s first live music concert. Then Valerija appeared on a national TV show ‘Ryto suktinis’ with the same programme.

National and International Achievements 2011-2016

In 2011 Valerija came second in the contest ’Skambek, Dzukija!’, and won two other international contests ‘Pavasario Fiesta’ and ‘Jazz Fountain’. In 2011 she was invited to participate in the Vilnius big band festival along with Panevezys music school’s big band, and later participated in the international festival ‘Tartu 2011’ along with Panevezys Chamber Orchestra. In 2011 Valerija played her first lead role in the musical Mary Poppins at Panevezys Community House. Later that year she was a guest in the festival ‘Sugrazinkime klasika’, and came second in ‘Kaunas Talent’ contest. That same year she recorded a song ‘Take it back’ for Eurovision’s song contest along with a singer Vytautas Matuzas and a singer and composer Linas Adomaitis. In 2012 Valerija started studying singing with Lithuanian popular music diva Rosita Civilyte. That same year, she was selected for a TV musical project ‘The Voice’, where she was mentored by an opera singer, tenor Merunas Vitulskis. The project offered her an opportunity to perform the Eurovision’s winning song ‘Fairytale’ along with the winner Alexander Rybak. Valerija left ’Lithuanian voice’ right before the superfinals, and together with a music agent E. Elzbergaite introduced an acoustical music project. Valerija performed with R. Laureckis, a member of the ‘Pikaso’ band, and also toured around Lithuania with a project ‘Tribute to Rihanna’. That same winter she performed for the Lithuanian community in London. Later that year Valerija entered Vilnius J. Tallat - Kelpsa conservatoire, the vocal singing class led by V. Sasnauskiene. Valerija won the first prize in the National Song Contest ‘Stairs to Heaven’. That same year the musician was invited to perform as the vocalist at ‘Panevezio Garsas’ orchestra alongside Mindaugas Rojus. Valerija kept mastering her vocal singing skills, and in 2014 came second in the international jazz music contest ‘Jazz Fountain’, followed by performances in ‘Dainu Dainele’, and the international festival ‘Kaunas Jazz’. She won second prize in the national festival ’Spotlight’, and played one of the main roles in the musical ‘Publikai’. In 2016. While pursuing her vocal studies with the help of a lecturer D. Babilaite - Abare, Valerija was selected to represent Lithuania in one of the five biggest festivals worldwide - ’Slavianskij Bazar’, where she was awarded Honourable Mention. She then won ‘Grand Prix’ in the second international music festival ‘Music Talents League’, where upon a fateful encounter with an opera diva Nomeda Kazlaus, Valerija was invited to keep improving at the prestigious ‘Palanga summer academy’. At the famous festival ‘Riga Simphony’ the jury and maestro Raimond Pauls awarded Valerija with the ‘Grand Prix’ for the D. Pulauskas’ ‘Pavakarys’ original song arrangement. That same year in Venice (Italy) she won 2nd prize in the international contest ‘Orfeo in Italia’.

Creative activity of 2013

In 2013, while in cooperation with a music composer Kristupas Bubnelis and an arranger Vytautas Karpauskas, Valerija Iljinaite introduced a song ‘Taip noriu vėl’, and participated in the national Eurovision selection contest. That same year she became the big band soloist of Vilnius J. Tallat - Kelpsa conservatoire, and took part in the national big band festival ‘Flora Jazz’, and the international jazz music festival ‘Kaunas Jazz’, followed by a festival in Germany.

In 2014 Valerija released her first album - ‘Eternity’. She then travelled across Lithuania with a musical project ‘Divas & the Gentlemen’, performing alongside actress-singer Kristina Radziukynaite - Kayra. After graduation from the conservatoire Valerija continued studying musical theatre at Vilnius college, in actor Jokubas Bareikis’ course. In 2015 Valerija was invited to become a member of the jury at ‘Jazz Fountain’ international contest, and later performed with Tomas Alencikas – Alen Chicco, participated in various events, and introduced another song of hers - 'Svarbiausia Dalis'. That same year Valerija spent half a year in New York City where she attended a course at the New York Drama Academy AMDA, and enjoyed visiting Broadway shows.

2016 - 2019

n 2016-2017 V. Iljinaitė collaborated with the Swedish production company ‘Sweden Songs’, and successfully appeared in the National Eurovision Song Contest, where she reached the semifinals. She won 3rd place in the LNK TV show ‘We share the same blood’, embodying characters such as Montserrat Cabale and Merūnas Vitulskis. In 2019 Valerija was awarded a bachelor's degree in theatre studies from Vilnius College and London College of Music, and played in the operetta 'Gondoliers' production directed by David Henson in London. She represented Lithuania in international competitions 'Euro Stars' in Malta (won the Grand Prix), 'Carpathia 2019' in Poland (Honourable Mention), and Moldova (3rd place). Together with Aiste Pilvelyte, she successfully participated in the LRT TV project ‘Two Generations’, where they came third. In 2019 Valerija Iljinaitė was invited to a special inauguration concert of President Gitanas Nausėda, where she performed with the orchestra ‘Trumpet’.

2019 - present

Valerija Iljin is a Lithuanian spinto soprano of Ukrainian descent currently studying with Marcus van den Akker and Janet Haney on a postgraduate course at the Royal Academy of Music, generously funded by the academy's scholarship. In 2023 she graduated Bachelor of Music (performance) with first-class honours from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, where she studied with Joan Rodgers CBE and was a Morag Noble scholar. Recently Valerija became a finalist in Hans Gabor Belvedere competition, won the Isabel Jay Memorial Prize, IIIrd Medici Prize and made her Carnegie Hall recital debut as a winner at the Laureate Gala by Progressive Musicians and was awarded a special prize by James Adler. She was a young artist at Manhattan Opera Studio and performed the 1st Lady (Mozart, Zauberflöte) at Opera America in New York City; she also took part in the MOS Gala at the Carnegie Weill Recital Hall. Valerija was a semi-finalist of the Kathleen Ferrier Awards 2023 and a runner-up of the Clara Schumann lieder competition, has performed with various orchestras, including the Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra, Trimitas Orchestra, Panevezys musical theatre symphony orchestra, ‘Kaunas big band’, Belarus state symphony orchestra, the Polish National symphony orchestra and others. In 2019 Valerija was awarded a bachelor's degree in theatre studies from Vilnius College and London College of Music; she has also studied at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City. In May 2021, Valerija developed the roles of Susanna and Emma in Mussorgsky’s opera‘ Khovanschina’ (Bolshoi Theatre), working with the Complicité creative team: Simon McBurney OBE, Gerard McBurney and Leah Hausman. In 2022 Valerija was announced the winner of the Roy Pleasance Competition 21-22, was announced ''Musical Odyssey' Prize Winner in both 2022 and 2023. Attended masterclasses, studied and worked with Lauren Flanigan, Elizabeth Blancke – Biggs, Kamal Khan, Michael Recchiuti, Darrel Babidge, Mitchell Cirker, Janice Baird, Donata D’Annunzio Lombardi, Roger Malouf, Lewis Ehlers, Sandra Hermozi, Keith Chambers, Yvonne Howard, David Cowan, Geraldine Cassidy, Beatrice Penzi, Carmen Santoro, Sergei Leiferkus, Manolis Papasifakis, Ubaldo Fabbri, Dr Pantelis Polychronidis, Alison Wells, Nomeda Kazlaus, Kristian Benedikt, Asmik Grigorian, Susan Bullock and others. As a recognized artist in Lithuania, she was invited to take part in a special inauguration concert of the President of Lithuania, Gitanas Nauseda, in 2019.

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