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Vänskä was born to a Finnish family in the Kinki region of Japan, where she took her first violin lessons at the age of three. Her family moved back to Finland in 1989 and she continued her studies with Pertti Sutinen at the Lahti Conservatorium and the Sibelius Academy. At the age of 11 Satu was selected for the Kuhmo Violin School in Finland, a special institution for talented young violinists where she attended masterclasses with Ilya Grubert, Zinaida Gilels and Pavel Vernikov and had the opportunity to perform at the Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival with the Kuhmo Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra. In her teens Satu studied violin at Hochschule für Musik in Germany. This led to her performances with the Munich Philharmonic, the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, at the Tuusulanjärvi Festival, and at Festivo Aschau. From 1997 Satu was a pupil of Ana Chumachenco at the Hochschule für Musik in Munich where she finished her diploma in 2001.
Satu has received high acclaim for her violin excellence, most notably the Young Soloist of the Year (1998) award, named by Sinfonia Lahti, and receiving the honor of attending master classes with Kuhmo Violin School, Finland, at the age of eleven.
Satu is currently Assistant Leader of the Australian Chamber Orchestra, traveling nationally and internationally with her Tommaso Balestrieri violin. In 2011, she became the custodian of the only Stradivarius violin in Australia. Satu is married to violinist and Artistic Director of the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Richard Tognetti.
- Lalak, A. (2009). Satu Vänskä, Australian Chamber Orchestra play Kreutzer Sonata. The Daily Telegraph.