The Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, the first professional symphony orchestra to be founded in the Nordic countries, has been operating without a break for 132 years. It has grown from a band of 36 players to an orchestra of 102 regular members giving concerts attended by a total audience of a good 100,000 a year at the Helsinki Music Centre and abroad.
Between 1892 and 1923 the HPO gave the first performances of almost all the symphonic works by Jean Sibelius with the composer himself conducting. The HPO’s founder and first Chief Conductor Robert Kajanus was succeeded by Paavo Berglund, Leif Segerstam, John Storgårds and other conductors of note. Conductor Susanna Mälkki has been appointed the next chief conductor of the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra. She begun a three-year term as Chief Conductor of the Orchestra in autumn 2016.
Works by Sibelius and Rautavaara have featured on the highly-acclaimed discs made by the HPO. The disc of songs by Sibelius, featuring soprano Soile Isokoski and Leif Segerstam, was awarded the MIDEM Classical Award in Cannes in 2007, and Towards the Horizon, disc containing music by Einojuhani Rautavaara under the baton of John Storgårds, the Gramophone Award in 2012.