The conductor takes up the roles in September 2023 for the next three years


Jukka-Pekka Saraste © Felix Broede

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The Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra (HPO) has announced Jukka-Pekka Saraste as its chief conductor starting in September 2023 for the next three-year period. 

In addition to chief conductor Jukka-Pekka Saraste, Pekka Kuusisto assumes the role of principal guest conductor. Anna Clyne has been designated composer-in-residence for the upcoming season.

’Music plays an immensely significant role in Finnish culture, and the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra stands as a vital component of our identity,’ said Saraste. ’As I step into the role of chief conductor, my aim is to champion the orchestra’s ambitions to be an orchestra for the people of Helsinki. The collaborative brainstorming with the artistic leadership team and orchestra members has been profound. We are determined to convey that the experience of music, when shared as a communal activity, stands as one of the most beautiful offerings an orchestra can present to its listeners.’

Saraste originally trained as a violinist and is a former co-principal second violinist of the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra. He studied conducting at the Sibelius Academy under Jorma Panula with his contemporaries Esa-Pekka Salonen and Osmo Vänskä. Saraste became chief conductor with the Finnish Radio Symphony in 1987 until 2001 and is now conductor laureate with the orchestra.

He has also served as principal conductor of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Music Director of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, principal guest conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, music director of the Oslo Philharmonic, artistic advisor of the Lahti Symphony Orchestra and principal conductor of WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne.

The HPO 2023-24 concert season will be launched at the beginning of September with a two-week opening festival conducted by Saraste and Kuusisto. The festival will also feature the premiere of the violin concerto Time and Tides that Anna Clyne has composed for Pekka Kuusisto.  

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