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Fokus Sibelius I

Fri 08/12/2023 19:00 - 21:00


First symphony became Sibelius's international breakthrough on a European tour of the orchestra of the Helsinki Philharmonic Society in 1900.

Stockholm, Copenhagen, Hamburg, Berlin, Paris. Robert Kajanus took Sibelius' first symphony and the orchestra of the Helsinki Philharmonic Society on a European tour in the summer of 1900. The symphony became Sibelius's international breakthrough that was praised profusely by the press in the tour cities. Kimmo Hakola's violin concerto is inspired by the violinism of John Storgårds and David Oistrah.

Jukka-Pekka Saraste

Jukka-Pekka Saraste, now beginning his term as Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, has established himself as one of the outstanding conductors of his generation. Born in Heinola, Finland, in 1956, he began his career as a violinist. Today, he is renowned as an artist of exceptional versatility and breadth. He maintains a particularly strong connection to the works of Beethoven, Bruckner, Shostakovich, Stravinsky and Sibelius and is internationally celebrated for his interpretations of Mahler. During the 2023/2024 season, together with the HPO, Saraste will delve deeper into the symphonic heritage of Sibelius, Mahler and Bruckner over several extended concert periods, as well as highlight composers and music of our own time.

As head of the Artistic Leadership Team of the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, Saraste emphasises the importance of music for both society and individuals.

”Music is a particularly strong part of Finnish culture, and the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra itself plays a significant role in building our identities. As I begin my term as Chief Conductor, I want to engage in the orchestra’s efforts to be the orchestra of all Helsinki residents. The brainstorming between the Artistic Leadership Team and members of the orchestra has been very close. Experiencing music as part of a community is one of the greatest things an orchestra can offer its listeners.”

Jukka-Pekka Saraste’s previous positions include the principal conductorships of the WDR Symphony Orchestra in Cologne, the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. He has also served as Principal Guest Conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra. As guest conductor he appears with the major orchestras worldwide and in recent years conducted the likes of the Orchestre de Paris, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra and the NHK Symphony Orchestra.

Saraste considers it important to coach and mentor musicians at the beginning of their careers. He is a founding member of the LEAD! Foundation, a mentorship programme for young conductors and soloists that has run projects in Sweden, Switzerland, Germany and Bulgaria, amongst others. The LEAD! Masterclass in summer 2023 was held once again in conjunction with the annual Fiskars Summer Festival, where a multinational symphony orchestra of young musicians worked under the direction of Saraste and guest artists.

Jukka-Pekka Saraste has been awarded for his merits in the field of music with the Pro Finlandia Prize, the Finnish State Prize for Music and the Commander of the Order of the Lion of Finland.


John Storgårds

John Storgårds began his professional career as a violinist and served as the leader of many orchestras before graduating in conducting from the Sibelius Academy. He is still an active violinist, alongside his conducting engagements, in demand for both solo and chamber repertoire with many of the world’s finest artists and ensembles. These latter have included the Oslo Philharmonic, the Frankfurt and Cologne Radio Symphonies, the German Chamber Philharmonic, the BBC Philharmonic, the RAI National Symphony in Turin and almost all the Finnish orchestras.

Many composers, among them Kimmo Hakola (Violin Concerto and two works for solo violin), Pehr-Henrik Nordgren (Violin Concerto No. 4), Sunleif Rasmussen (Violin Concerto) and Bent Sørensen (Serenissima) have dedicated works to him. His many recorded concertos further include those for the violin by Schumann, Erkki Melartin, Pehr-Henrik Nordgren, Kaija Saariaho and Pēteris Vasks, and in 1990 he premiered the Suite for Violin and String Orchestra, Op. 117 the performance of which had previously been banned by its composer, Jean Sibelius.

In chamber repertoire, Storgårds can frequently be heard with Avanti!, the Ottawa National Arts Center Orchestra and the Lapland Chamber Orchestra, and at festivals such as Aspen, Santa Fe, Rolandseck, Affinis, Korsholm and Kuhmo.

John Storgårds studied the violin with Esther Raitio, Jouko Ignatius and others, and above all for several periods in the 1980s and 1990s with Chaim Taub, the legendary teacher and leader of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. He gave his debut concert as a violinist in Helsinki 35 years ago, in 1988.

John Storgårds (johnstorgards.com)

Kimmo Hakola: Violin Concerto 

“When I compose a concerto,” says Kimmo Hakola (b. 1958), “I am often inspired by the soloist who is to premiere it. In my mind, I imagine him or her in the concert hall and listen to the way he or she might play it.” No wonder, therefore, that the muse for the clarinet concerto was Kari Kriikku, for the guitar concerto Timo Korhonen, and for the double concerto Minna Pensola and Antti Tikkanen. The soloist in the first performance of the violin concerto (2012) was John Storgårds and, like today, the orchestra on that occasion was conducted by Jukka-Pekka Saraste.

The concerto is in the great virtuoso tradition and was of course composed with the soloist, John Storgårds, in mind. Writing it was also a journey back in time: the violin was Hakola’s first instrument and he dreamt of one day becoming a new David Oistrakh. He was, however to make his name as the prolific composer of operas, orchestral, chamber and choral works, often with a playful look at different genres and history.

Jean Sibelius: Symphony no. 1 in E minor Op. 39

Jean Sibelius first began debating whether to write a symphony in 1898, possibly a programmatic one inspired by the example of Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique. His early works had mostly been chamber and instrumental ones, but he did have experience of writing for orchestra, having already composed some tone poems, such as En Saga and the Lemminkäinen suite, and the Kullervo symphony for choir and orchestra.

The Symphony no. 1 in E minor is nevertheless ‘absolute’ music. It was premiered at a concert in 1899 by the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra with Sibelius himself conducting and won an enthusiastic reception both at home and abroad. When the Orchestra travelled to Paris in 1900 for the World Expo, the symphony was the main item on its concert programme.

The E minor is the most traditional of all the Sibelius symphonies. The idiom is romantic and broad-gestured and Tchaikovsky can be sensed hovering in the background, along with ghosts from the Finnish national epic, the Kalevala. The symphony also has features pointing in the direction of Beethoven, such as the classical four movements.

Violin 1

Jan Söderblom
Pekka Kauppinen
Kari Olamaa
Otto Antikainen
Katariina Jämsä
Eija Hartikainen
Petri Päivärinne 
Ilkka Lehtonen
Sirkku Helin
Totti Hakkarainen
Onni Kunnola
Maiju Kauppinen
Katinka Korkeala
Kalinka Pirinen
Dhyani Gylling
Lea Tuuri

Violin 2
Anna-Leena Haikola
Teija Kivinen
Eva Ballaz
Tommi Asplund
Krista Rosenberg
Heini Eklund
Teppo Ali-Mattila
Eleonora Oswald
Harry Rayner
Terhi Ignatius
Anna-Maria Huohvanainen
Tuomas Ikonen
Kaisa Laurila

Atte Kilpeläinen
Torsten Tiebout
Petteri Poijärvi 
Lotta Poijärvi
Tuomas Huttunen
Ulla Knuuttila 
Mariette Reefman
Carmen Moggach
Tiila Kangas
Santtu Pozdniakovas 
Vuokko Lahtinen 
Aida Hadzajlic 

Lauri Kankkunen 
Tuomas Ylinen 
Basile Ausländer 
Beata Antikainen 
Ilmo Saaristo 
Mathias Hortling 
Jaakko Rajamäki 
Saara Särkimäki 
Veli-Matti Iljin 
Fransien Paananen

Ville Väätäinen 
Adrian Rigopulos 
Timo Ahtinen 
Eero Ignatius 
Paul Aksman 
Mehdi Nejjoum-Barthélémy
Juraj Valencik 
Tuomo Matero

Elina Raijas 
Niamh Mc Kenna 
Katja Ceder

Jussi Jaatinen 
Nils Rõõmussaar 
Paula Malmivaara 

Nora Niskanen 
Osmo Linkola 
Heikki Nikula 

Erkki Suomalainen 
Markus Tuukkanen 
Noora Van Dok 

Miska Miettunen 
Ville Hiilivirta 
Jonathan Nikkinen 
Sam Parkkonen 

Obin Meurin 
Thomas Bugnot 
Pasqual Llopis Diago 
Mika Tuomisalo 

Anu Fagerström 
Valtteri Malmivirta 
Jesus Moreno Miras 

Ilkka Marttila 

Tomi Wikström 

Pasi Suomalainen 
Mikael Sandström 
Xavi Castelló Aràndiga 

Minnaleena Jankko 
Anni Kuusimäki 

Lambis Pavlou 


Jukka-Pekka Saraste
John Storgårds


    Kimmo Hakola
    Violin Concerto
    Jean Sibelius
    Symphony No. 1
Series IV
Jukka-Pekka Saraste
John Storgårds
Kimmo Hakola
Violin Concerto
Jean Sibelius
Symphony No. 1