Rita Varonen has been the conductor and artistic director of Cantinovum since 1993. Under her direction, the ensemble has enhanced its reputation as one of Finland’s leading performers of new Finnish choral music.
Hungarian-born Varonen received her Master's degree in choral conducting and aural training at the distinguished Liszt Academy in Budapest in 1987. She also completed a degree in wind band conducting and studied voice as one of her main subjects. Rita Varonen has studied conducting with István Párkain and Péter Erdein and taken short courses with László Heltay, Tonu Kaljuste, Jorma Panula, and Stefan Sköld.
Varonen is currently a lecturer of choral and orchestral conducting. She has been the artistic director of the Finnish Association for Female Choirs from 2007 to 2015 and is in constant demand as a clinician for workshops throughout the world.
Varonen has conducted choral and orchestral concerts throughout Europe and the US, and apart from many CD releases, appeared in broadcast concerts on radio and TV in several countries. Her choirs have recorded and received prizes in both national and international competitions. Along with Cantinovum, Varonen conducts the Jyväskylän Naislaulajat (female choir), the Harjun Laulu (mixed choir), the Suomen Ortodoksinen Kanttorikuoro (choir of cantors) and the Aalto Wind Band.
Rita Varonen was awarded the Harald Andersén Prize of the Finnish Cultural Foundation for her contribution to Finnish choral music in 1996. She won second prize in the Mariele Ventre International Choir Conductor Competition in Italy in 2001. The Finnish Choral Directors’ Association selected Varonen, Choir Director of the Year in 2004. In 2009, she was awarded the prize of ‘Best Choir Conductor’ at the Slovakia Cantat Competition and the Academic Banská Bystrica competition, also in Slovakia. Rita Varonen received the Klemetti Prize from Sulasol, the Finnish Association for Singers and Players, in 2012.