Congratulations to two of Finland’s foremost conductors (and most distinguished Sibelius interpreters), who have been appointed to prestigious new positions.
Sakari Oramo, principal conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra and West Coast Kokkola Opera, has been appointed Professor of Orchestral Training and Orchestral Conducting at the Sibelius Academy of the University of the Arts Helsinki for the five-year period (2020–24). He succeeds Atso Almila, who will retire when his term expires in 2019. Kaarlo Hildén, Dean of the Sibelius Academy, remarks: ‘We are privileged to have someone like Sakari take over this distinguished professorship.’ For further information click here.
Osmo Vänskä has been appointed as the honorary conductor of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra. He has been the orchestra’s principal guest conductor since 2014, and from 1993 to 1996 was its chief conductor. Arna Kristín Einarsdóttir, executive director of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, commented: ‘It is a true honour for the Iceland Symphony Orchestra and a recognition of the work we do that Osmo Vänskä has accepted the title as our Honorary Conductor… He is, without a doubt, one of the most important conductors this orchestra works with. We certainly look forward to making music with Osmo in the future.’ For further information click here.
Osmo Vänskä has completed his second Sibelius symphony cycle on disc with the release of Symphonies Nos 3, 6 and 7.
He conducts the Minnesota Orchestra, of which he has been principal conductor since 2003, and this is the first of the team’s recordings to have been recorded after the end of the orchestra’s extended lock-out.
Vänskä’s previous Sibelius cycle, with the Lahti Symphony Orchestra, was hailed in the magazine Gramophone as ‘the finest survey of the past three decades’.
The disc (BIS-2006), recorded in May/June 2015 in surround sound and released as a hybrid SACD, will be released internationally in August 2016 to coincide with the orchestra’s European tour, with performances in Lahti, Edinburgh, Amsterdam and Copenhagen.
A recording of Kullervo by the same musicians together with the YL Male Voice Choir and soloists Lilli Paasikivi and Tommi Hakala, made at live performances in Minnesota in February, is scheduled for release at the end of 2016.
At the end of 2014 I was approached by the management of BBC Radio 3 to kick off their forthcoming contributions to the 150th anniversary of Jean Sibelius. On Thursday 1st January, at around 8.10 am, I was interviewed by Clemency Burton-Hill and asked to introduce my personal pièce de resistance, the Nocturne from the King Christian II Suite, and to explain my adoration of this magnificent work. I said that it contained a big memorable tune, that the orchestration was outstanding, i.e. cantabile strings, woodwind in pairs (cf. for instance the start of the second movement of the Violin Concerto) and brass-orientated climaxes; in other words for me it’s ‘a total goose-pimple extravaganza’ (Clemency loved that expression). I particularly wanted them to use the recording by the Lahti Symphony Orchestra and Osmo Vänskä, as I had experienced them performing it ‘live’ at the 2003 Lahti Sibelius Festival. On top of that, I’d spoken at length to Osmo Vänskä about the merits of this glorious work overall the next day.
This can be found on the BBC Radio 3 website until 28th January 2015 – follow this link, and it starts around 01:40:40.
I wish all readers a wonderful 2015 and cannot wait to meet up with many of you for the ‘big one’ this year in Lahti.