New Artistic Leadership Team For the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra

Wednesday 13th April 2022

Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra welcomes Jukka-Pekka Saraste as Chief Conductor, Pekka Kuusisto as Principal Guest Conductor and Artistic co-director and Anna Clyne as Composer-in-Residence

The Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra is renewing its artistic leadership model. The orchestra will have a three-member Artistic Leadership Team, which will be comprised of Chief Conductor and Artistic Director Jukka-Pekka Saraste, Principal Guest Conductor and Artistic co-director Pekka Kuusisto and Composer-in-Residence Anna Clyne. The term of the new Artistic Leadership Team will begin at the end of current Chief Conductor Susanna Mälkki’s term in summer 2023.

The contracts for Saraste and Kuusisto are for three years. The Chief Conductor will conduct the HPO eight weeks a year and the Partner Conductor four weeks a year. The Composer-in-Residence will change annually, and in addition to performing orchestral pieces as commissioned, they will participate in the work of the artistic leadership team and plan the programme for one concert per season.

According to Aleksi Malmberg, General Manager of the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, the new artistic leadership model reflects today’s society and the importance of bringing unique voices together. “This is an inspiring next step for the 140 years old HPO. We can be thankful for having such a strong base, from which we can explore new exciting paths with these wonderful artists – together with our 102 musicians and the whole team in service of music and the people of Helsinki. Now if ever, the value of unity, creativity and collaboration is being highlighted,” says Malmberg.

Jukka-Pekka Saraste

An artist of exceptional versatility and breadth, and renowned for his objective approach, Jukka-Pekka Saraste has established himself as one of the outstanding conductors of today, demonstrating remarkable musical depth and integrity.

Jukka-Pekka Saraste has a long history with the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, since his debut concert with the orchestra in 1983, and he has worked together for years with upcomingPrincipal Guest Conductor and Artistic co-director Pekka Kuusisto on concert stages in Finland and around the world. As members of the HPO’s new Artistic Leadership Team, the two will be working together more closely than ever.

“Symphonic music has always been a very important part of the Finnish identity, and the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra has an incredible history of providing a platform for composers since the early works of Sibelius. I am very excited to continue building the identity and importance of the orchestra together with the Artistic Leadership Team,” says upcoming Chief Conductor and Artistic Director Jukka-Pekka Saraste.

Pekka Kuusisto

Violinist, conductor, and composer Pekka Kuusisto is Artistic Director of the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra, and Artistic Partner with The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and Mahler Chamber Orchestra. He is also a Collaborative Partner of the San Francisco Symphony, and Artistic Best Friend of Die Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen. In the 2021/22 season, he is the Philharmonia Orchestra’s Featured Artist, with whom he performs as both violinist and conductor.

Pekka Kuusisto is a familiar guest with the HPO, both as a violin soloist and a conductor. According to Kuusisto, he will strive to be as open-minded as possible regarding the roles, performance aspects and programme of the orchestra. 

“I am interested in highlighting the wide range of talents that can be found in the orchestra. A symphony orchestra is one of the finest organisations that humans are capable of, and together with the HPO, Anna and Jukka-Pekka, we can certainly expect some great  initiatives. The HPO has been flying high under Susanna Mälkki, as are our colleagues, Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra and Finnish National Opera, so I believe that now is the right time to consider Helsinki as the most interesting orchestra city in Northern Europe,” says Pekka Kuusisto.

Anna Clyne

London-born Anna Clyne is a two-time GRAMMY-nominated composer of acoustic and electro-acoustic music. Described as a “composer of uncommon gifts and unusual methods” in a New York Times profile and as “fearless” by NPR, Clyne is one of the most in-demand composers of her generation, embarking on collaborations with choreographers, visual artists, and musicians.

The voice of composers on the Artistic Leadership Team will be represented during her 2023-24 term by Anna Clyne, who is known for her collaborative projects with other representatives of the arts. Similar projects can be expected also during her term as Composer-in-Residence in Helsinki.

“This will be my first time in Finland and I very much look forward to exploring the musical landscape and to sharing my orchestral music along with other orchestral music by exciting living composers who are expanding the orchestral sound world in innovative ways. As part of my residency I am writing two new concerti, and I will also curate a week of orchestral concerts for which we will join forces with some of the city’s arts institutions and a diverse range of guest artists from Helsinki and further afield”, says Anna Clyne.