Mats Lillhannus is a tenor specialising in early music, music writer, editor, and sound engineer living in Turku (Åbo), Finland.
For many years, Lillhannus’ main musical activity was that of a jazz trumpeter, but gradually the focus has shifted to singing. After receiving his Master’s degree in musicology in 2001, he has established himself as a professional singer, working both as a soloist and as an ensemble singer.
When working as a soloist, Lillhannus especially enjoys baroque oratorios and cantatas. The passions of J.S. Bach, as well as other major sacred works from composers such as Handel, Buxtehude, Schütz, Purcell, and Charpentier, form the core of his repertoire, whether performing arias or evangelist recitatives.
Lillhannus has founded several ensembles through the years. The first of these was the vocal ensemble Camerata Aboensis, which, starting in 1992, has been exploring the sacred repertoire of the renaissance with Turku Cathedral as its home. The more recent ensembles Giardino Novo and The Cipriano Project focus mainly on the secular music of the renaissance. The chamber choir Key Ensemble was also founded on Lillhannus’ initiative. In addition, Lillhannus has worked with many choirs and ensembles both in Finland and abroad, such as Ensemble Petraloysio (Helsinki), Erik Westbergs Vokalensemble (Piteå), Ensemble SYD (Malmö) and Ars Nova Copenhagen. Lillhannus was a member of the Finnish National Radio Chamber Choir during the last two years of its existence.
In addition to his studies in musicology, Lillhannus has studied singing privately with Veikko Kiiver (Stockholm), Evelyn Tubb (Basel), and Kevin Smith (Malmö). In 2010, he graduated from the AVES (Advanced Vocal Ensemble Studies) postgraduate programme at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis under the guidance of Anthony Rooley and Evelyn Tubb.
As a writer, Lillhannus mainly produces and translates concert presentations for music festivals around Finland. He is also interested in unearthing forgotten treasures in music archives, editing modern scores of mainly renaissance music. The complete modern edition of the Piae Cantiones song collection of 1582, available on Lillhannus’ web site, deserves special mention.
The most recent field of work for Lillhannus is sound engineering. Here, too, the main focus is on choral and acoustic ensemble music. Lillhannus has recorded, engineered and mastered several CD:s, including the award winning records of chamber choir Key Ensemble.
”Tenor soloist Mats Lillhannus is also the recording’s engineer and does an exquisite job on both counts.”
Malcolm Riley, Gramophone Magazine, July 2014 (Key Ensemble – Rachmaninov: All-Night Vigil)