Pekka Kuusisto

SPCO Artistic Partner

Described as “one-of-a-kind” by Toronto’s The Globe and Mail, Pekka Kuusisto is internationally renowned for his fresh approach to the repertoire. Kuusisto performs a series of prestigious concert dates, including debuts at the London BBC Proms with BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra (Thomas Dausgaard), as well as at the Edinburgh International Festival as part of a European tour with the Minnesota Orchestra (Osmo Vänskä). He also returns to the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, tours with Junge Deutsche Philharmonie (Jonathan Nott), play-directs the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and premieres Daníel Bjarnason’s violin concerto, written especially for him, with the Los Angeles Philharmonic (Gusavo Dudamel).

An advocate of new music, Kuusisto gave the world premiere of Sebastian Fagerlund’s Violin Concerto, leading to a critically acclaimed release of the work with Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra (BIS) in 2015. He also collaborates frequently with composers such as Nico Muhly, Daniel Bjarnason and Thomas Adès, and premieres a new work by Anders Hillborg this season with the Swedish Chamber Orchestra.

Kuusisto is a gifted improviser and regularly engages with people across the artistic spectrum. Uninhibited by conventional genre boundaries and noted for his innovative programming, recent projects have included collaborations with pioneer of electronic music, Brian Crabtree, as well as Dutch neurologist Erik Scherder at Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw. He received a special invitation to participate in Imogen Heap’s residency at London’s Roundhouse and his solo electronic and improvisation project, with its roots in Bach’s chorales and the Partita No.2 in D minor, has also been widely acclaimed.

Last season saw him perform with eminent jazz-trumpeter Arve Henriksen at the Winter Festival in Røros; with juggler Jay Gilligan in Minneapolis’ ‘Aria’ venue; and with accordionist Dermot Dunne in St Paul, in a programme featuring Bach alongside Scandinavian traditional music. He also joined forces with actress Seela Sella and director Kristian Smeds for a new theatrical production Tabu at the Finnish National Theatre, which featured Kuusisto as both composer and performer. Kuusisto is Artistic Director of the award-winning ‘Our Festival’, which takes place annually in Sibelius’ hometown.

Kuusisto’s recent concerto highlights include a performance at the Metropolitan Museum with the Ensemble of the Lucerne Festival Alumni and Alan Gilbert as part of the New York Philharmonic’s Biennial 2016, as well as returns to the Scottish Chamber, City of Birmingham Symphony and Toronto Symphony orchestras. A keen chamber musician, Kuusisto has recently performed recitals at London’s Wigmore Hall, Dortmund’s Konzerthaus and Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, and next season he makes his Carnegie Hall debut in addition to a duo recital with Nico Muhly in Princeton University’s ‘Performances Up Close 125’ series. Other regular chamber partners include Nicolas Altstaedt, Anne Sofie von Otter, Simon Crawford-Phillips, Alexander Lonquich and Olli Mustonen.

Widely recognised for his flair in directing ensembles from the violin, he became Artistic Director of ACO Collective in January 2016 - a string ensemble which connects the musicians of the Australian Chamber Orchestra with Australia’s most talented young professional musicians to deliver innovative projects across the country. This season also sees him take up the role of Artistic Partner with The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra following a longstanding creative collaboration with the ensemble. Other directing highlights include an acclaimed tour to South America with Die Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, as well as concerts with Tapiola Sinfonietta, Mahler Chamber Orchestra and Britten Sinfonia.

Future recording plans include Sibelius’ Violin Concerto with the Tapiola Sinfonietta, featuring Pekka as director and soloist, and paired with traditional Finnish rune singing. In 2013, Kuusisto was the recipient of the Nordic Council Music Prize, with judges describing him as “a violinist in the absolute elite”.

Pekka Kuusisto plays a fine Stradivari violin kindly loaned to him through the Beares International Violin Society.