Ylvali - profile

Ylvali Zilliacus


What’s the best thing about playing with the MCO?

There are so many best things about the MCO: the attentive listening, the collective positive energy, the friendly yet professional atmosphere, the open-minded cultural diversity, the coherent body of management and artists, performing in great venues across the world… the list goes on!

What do you need to feel at home whilst on tour?

My yoga mat, a pair of warm socks, good podcasts to listen to and face-timing with my husband!

What is the best thing about being a musician?

To be creative together with other musicians and to be part of something out of the ordinary; it is an experience that cannot really be translated into words. Indeed, to be able to communicate and share emotions with others through music feels very innate and deeply human.

What would you do if you weren't a musician?

I would aspire to be a good Ashtanga Yoga teacher and perhaps a massage therapist. And if I had more time at home than I have today, I would probably cook more and be very creative with food instead of music!

What makes a “perfect” concert?

As beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder, a “perfect” concert lies in the ears of the listener.
Luckily there is plenty of art and music out there, enough to satisfy the most critical of eyes and ears.
Personally, the most essential part of performing is telling the story convincingly.
No matter what music, own it and play it with conviction as if it were the last piece you’ll ever play!
Indeed, it really is a fantastic experience when an entire orchestra collectively narrates, with every part, instrument and section being as important for the successful unfolding of the story.
I believe the MCO is one of best storytelling orchestras in the world.


Ylvali Zilliacus is a founding member of the Lendvai String Trio. Since its London Wigmore Hall debut in 2006, the trio has made several critically acclaimed recordings and has won a number of awards including the Dutch Kersjes Prize (2011). The trio performs regularly at international chamber music festivals and at venues such as Bridgewater Hall and King’s Place, UK and the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam. 

Ylvali studied both baroque and "modern" viola at the Royal College of Music in London, continuing at the Hochschule für Musik "Hanns Eisler" in Berlin and concluding with a Masters in Chamber Music at Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. Influential teachers were Simon Rowland-Jones, Jan Schlapp, Tabea Zimmermann and David Takeno.

She worked as principal viola of The English Concert (2003-2007) and later as principal viola in Musica Vitae Chamber Orchestra in Växjö, Sweden (2009-2012). Now back in her native Stockholm, she works regularly as guest principal for the Swedish Royal Opera, and since November 2017, is a member of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra.

Ylvali is a keen chamber musician and is frequently invited to international music festivals such as Ernen Musikdorf in Switzerland, Båstad Festival in Sweden and Katrina Festival in Åland.

She plays a viola by Lorrenzo Storioni from 1776, kindly provided by the Järnåkersstiftelsen in Sweden.

Ylvali believes that no matter what size the ensemble is, it is possible to play together as chamber musicians - music starts with listening! And so does yoga - alongside her music career, Ylvali is also a dedicated Ashtanga Yoga practitioner.