I’m a versatile musician. I sing, write lyrics, arrange, play cello and the electric cello and also am a concert manager. I have also organized music festivals ans has been in the organization teams for festivals. My own festival is Septemberfest which I have organized since 2010.
In the Spring and Autumn time I arrange large concert tours in Lapland. From 2009 onwards classical tours, and later on tours with dance music. Finnhits, tangos, pop hits and my own curious arrangements from some of the classical masterpieces (for cello) are often heard at church concerts, concert halls, salons, etc. I also perform at private events. I regularly perform with my husbandHeikki Sassi, who is a brilliant bass singer. He has also sang at the opera.
I’ve always been interested in pop music genre alongside the classical. As a little girl I wanted to have a synthesizer, but was not allowed to get one until my early twenties. Classical training was very hard. I still use my 16-track Yamaha PSR 7000 synthesizer to make music with my Logic Pro computer programme for composing.
Seeli the Singer
I am told I could sing before I could talk. I sang mostly in my own private time in my childhood and in my teens. I was too shy to sing in public – it was very easy to hide behind the cello! Allthough I was sometimes dreaming of a career as a pop singer or even as an opera singer my classical training kept me strictly with the cello studies. Later on I dared to sing in public – actually it has been my husband Heikki who has taught me to use my voice properly. In the last year my voice register has stretched a few of octaves higher – and lower. In September 2015 I “found” my soprano voice. Someone told me my voice is a lyric-dramatic soprano. I sing little Oskar Merikanto songs and perhaps in the future I dare to try the opera arias. In the dance music gigs I like to sing Finnhits: the songs of Lea Laven, Kaija Koo, Arja Koriseva, Marita Taavitsainen, Kirsi Ranto, Katri Helena, Paula Koivuniemi, Vicky Rosti, and Kirka, among others. Songs by Whitney Houston, Barbra Streisand, and Madonna, to name a few, are also included in the dance gig repertoire. Me and my husband Heikki often perform together. We use the best and most powerful Bose PA system.
Seeli the Electric Cellist
I’m often asked why I play the electric cello and not just stick to the acoustic one. Firstly, I want to play it, and secondly, when the music is played through PA system, the sound of the soloist needs to be audible. Of course I coud just plug some microphones to my wooden cello – but it is so much easier just plug in the lectric cello and just play! I got my Yamaha electric cello a couple of years ago. I play with that on my 1st pop CD “Seeli Toivio: Grand Pop” which came out in 2015. I perform with cellist Helena Plathán as an electric cellos duo called Absolute Girls.
Seeli the Classical Cellist
I started with the violin when I was 3, but that changed to cello when I was 4. I studied the cello first at the Lahti Conservatory of Music with Jouko Paavola. At the Sibelius Academy Youth Department I studied with Hannu Kiiski and Marcel Bergman, and at the Sibelius Academy University with Erkki Rautio and Martti Rousi. I’ve also studied at the Liszt Academy in Budapest (Hungary) with Miklós Perényi and at the Royal Academy of Music in London (England) with David Strange. I have cello diplomas from the Royal Academy of Music (Dip. R.A.M., Postgraduate Performance) and from the Sibelius Academy, from where I also have the Masters and the Doctorate of Music degrees.
My thesis in the Doctorate was about the development of the left hand cello technique since the 18th century to our days. In my work I also introduce my own left hand technique which I often use in virtuoso works like Paganini, Sarasate, etc. My cello repertoire spans from the baroque to the modern. One my dreams is to have my thesis finally published and do lectures and master classes abroad. I have been extremely busy with the concerts since I graduated.
As a classical cellist I like to perform versatile chamber music – especially romantic music from the 19th century. My cello is a French one, Nicholas L’ainé from 1810. I have recorded many CDs which I have also produced.
Seeli in her Freetime
I like to do sports when I have the opportunity: inline skating, biking, swimming, walking, running, and downhill and cross-country skiing. I also like to watch movies and collect stamps, especially Finnish ones. My husband Heikki makes such fine food that I don’t have to have cooking as a hobby. I wish to visit Greenland and Bora Bora, and learn how to windsurf and waterski.