140923_Anna Clyne_2_Photo Credit Christina Kernohan.jpg

Ropes Away

Fri 08/09/2023 19:00 - 21:00


The Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra casts off on a new voyage piloted by its new artistic leadership trio, kicking off with a two-week opening festival.

Ropes away! The Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra casts off on a new voyage piloted by its new artistic leadership trio, kicking off with a two-week opening festival. Composer Anna Clyne has woven a new concerto for Pekka Kuusisto out of folk songs that relate stories of going off to sea and saying goodbye to our loved ones. Jukka-Pekka Saraste compares Bruckner's symphony to an organist playing alone in a cathedral. “All the sounds of the organ are in use, and the great music fills the entire huge space.”

Jukka-Pekka Saraste

Jukka-Pekka Saraste has established himself as one of the outstanding conductors of his generation, demonstrating remarkable musical depth and integrity. Born in Heinola, Finland, he began his career as a violinist before training as a conductor with Jorma Panula at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki. An artist of exceptional versatility and breadth and renowned for his objective approach, he feels a special affinity with the sound and style of late Romantic music. 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.

In April 2022, Saraste was named as Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra. He will begin his tenure in September 2023. 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.”

From 2010 to 2019, he served as Chief Conductor of the WDR Symphony Orchestra in Cologne. During his term, the orchestra built a reputation both at home and abroad, touring Austria, Spain, the Baltics, and Asia. The symphonic cycles of Sibelius, Brahms and Beethoven were exceptionally well received. Previously, from 2006 to 2013, Jukka-Pekka Saraste was Music Director and Chief Conductor of the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra. He was subsequently appointed Conductor Laureate, the very first such title bestowed by the orchestra. Earlier positions include the principal conductorships of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, where he is now Conductor Laureate, and Toronto Symphony Orchestra. He also served as Principal Guest Conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Artistic Advisor of the Lahti Symphony Orchestra. He founded the Finnish Chamber Orchestra, where he remains the Artistic Advisor. Last but not least, Jukka-Pekka Saraste is a founding member of the LEAD! Foundation, a mentorship programme for young conductors and soloists. Based in Finland, the foundation has run projects in Stockholm, Lausanne, Dortmund and Sofia. In 2020, he also created the annual Fiskars Summer Festival, an international platform for both Finnish and international artists to pass on their knowledge and experience to the next generation of conductors from all around the world.

Jukka-Pekka Saraste's guest engagements have led him to the major orchestras worldwide, including the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Munich Philharmonic, Staatskapelle Dresden, Bavarian Radio Symphony, Staatskapelle Berlin, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Vienna Symphony, NHK Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris and the leading Scandinavian orchestras. In North America, he has conducted the Cleveland Orchestra, Boston Symphony, Chicago Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Detroit Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Houston and Dallas Symphony as well as Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal. In recent years, Jukka-Pekka Saraste has developed a strong profile in opera and, following concert performances of Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex, Schönberg’s Erwartung and Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle, had great success at the Theater an der Wien in Vienna with a new scenic production of Mendelssohn’s Elijah, directed by Calixto Bieito, and Korngold’s Die tote Stadt at the Finnish National Opera. In the 2020-2021 season, he conducted a new staging of Reimann's Lear at the Bavarian State Opera in Munich which was revived in January 2023.

Jukka-Pekka Saraste´s extensive discography includes the complete symphonies of Sibelius and Nielsen with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra and several well-received recordings with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra of works by Bartók, Dutilleux, Mussorgsky and Prokofiev for Warner Finlandia. His CDs with WDR Symphony Orchestra for Hänssler have likewise earned him much critical praise. They include Schönberg’s Pelleas and Melisande, Stravinsky’s Le Rossignol, Brahms’ complete Symphonies as well as Mahler’s 5th and 9th Symphony and Bruckner’s Symphony No. 8. The complete cycle of Beethoven’s symphonies can be regarded as a legacy of his tenure in Cologne.

Jukka-Pekka Saraste has received the Pro Finlandia Medal, the Sibelius Medal, the Finnish State Prize for Music and, most recently, the insignia of Commander of the Order of the Lion of Finland. He holds honorary doctorates from York University, Toronto and Sibelius Academy, Helsinki.


Pekka Kuusisto

Pekka Kuusisto (b. 1976) is one of Finland's most renowned and internationally successful musicians. With the opening of the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra’s 2023/24 concert season, Kuusisto will begin a three-year term as Principal Guest Conductor and Artistic Co-director as a member of the Artistic Leadership Team responsible for planning the programme.

”The planning of this concert season has been a wonderful adventure, and I hope it brings the joy of both discovery and homecoming to our listeners,” Kuusisto says. In the HPO’s concerts, Kuusisto will appear as conductor, violin soloist and lead, meaning he will be conducting the orchestra while playing the violin instead of holding a baton.

Pekka Kuusisto grew up in a musical family and started playing the violin at the age of three. His solo career really kicked off after he won the International Jean Sibelius Violin Competition in 1995. Since then, his work has taken him at an accelerating pace to all continents throughout the world. His regular workplaces currently include Oslo (Norwegian Chamber Orchestra), Bremen (Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie), Berlin (Mahler Chamber Orchestra) and San Francisco (San Francisco Symphony) – and now also Helsinki.

Pekka Kuusisto is known for his bold and innovative approach, and his repertoire extends from folk music through classical to music that defies genre boundaries. Kuusisto combines, creates new things and moves widely in different art fields, also renewing concert traditions and the interaction between musicians and the audience without detracting from the hard core of tradition, for example as an instrumentalist or – increasingly often – as a conductor.


Anna Clyne: Time and Tides, Violin Concerto

Born in London but nowadays resident in New York, Anna Clyne is the HPO’s Composer-in-Residence and a member of its Artistic Leadership Team for the present season. She is best known for her concertos. These she always tailors for a specific soloist and tries to fade out the border between soloist and orchestra so that their roles merge while still maintaining the dialogue inherent in the concerto as a genre.

The five-movement violin concerto Time and Tides (2023) was commissioned jointly by the HPO and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and composed in close partnership with Finnish violinist Pekka Kuusisto. In addition to therefore being highly virtuosic, it has something of the folk spirit often associated with Kuusisto. Its material draws on folk songs alluding to leave-taking and the sea (such as The True Lover’s Farewell from England, Vem kan segla förutan vind from Åland, My Fair Young Love from Scotland and The Blackest Crow and The Golden Willow Tree from the USA). In the middle is a cadenza improvised by the soloist on themes previously heard over a soft string-orchestra background.

Anton Bruckner: Symphony No. 5 in B Flat

Anton Bruckner (1824–1896) doggedly went on composing symphonies whatever the critics might have to say, until the day came when even he grew sick of their gibes and began revising what he had written. Thus sixteen years were to elapse between the official date of his fifth symphony (1876) and its premiere performance in the patched-up edition of 1878. As fate would have it, Bruckner was confined to his sickbed that night, unable to attend the concert, and he never got to hear this, possibly his dearest symphony.

The fifth is the only Bruckner symphony to begin with a long, slow introduction, It also differs from the others in its use of counterpoint, its superimposed melodies and its strong personal emotional charge. Jean Sibelius, upon first hearing it, said, “Yesterday I heard Bruckner’s fifth symphony and it moved me to tears. For a long time afterwards I was completely entranced. What a strange and profound spirit!”

No wonder the fifth symphony has inspired scholars to give it the most varied of names: Faith, Tragic and Fantastic (the one Bruckner himself liked best), and the name that eventually stuck, Pizzicato. This last does not do justice to the work’s most profound dimensions, though each of the movements apart from the scherzo does indeed begin pizzicato.

Violin 1
Jan Söderblom
Eija Hartikainen
Katariina Jämsä
Helmi Kuusi
Elina Lehto
Ilkka Lehtonen
Jani Lehtonen
Kari Olamaa
Kalinka Pirinen
Petri Päivärinne
Satu Savioja
Totti Hakkarainen
Amanda Ernesaks
Katinka Korkeala
Aada Kuoppa
Mari Poll

Violin 2
Anna-Leena Haikola
Teija Kivinen
Heini Eklund
Elina Viitasaari
Maaria Leino
Eva Ballaz
Liam Mansfield
Alexander Nikolaev
Siiri Rasta
Krista Rosenberg
Terhi Ignatius
Virpi Taskila
Sanna Kokko

Atte Kilpeläinen
Torsten Tiebout
Petteri Poijärvi
Lotta Poijärvi
Aulikki Haahti-Turunen
Tiila Kangas
Ulla Knuuttila
Carmen Moggach
Mariette Reefman
Hajnalka Standi-Pulakka
Liisa Orava
Laura Világi

Lauri Kankkunen
Tuomas Ylinen
Beata Antikainen
Basile Ausländer
Mathias Hortling
Veli-Matti Iljin
Jaakko Rajamäki
Ilmo Saaristo
Pekka Smolander
Simon Svoboda

Ville Väätäinen
Maria Krykov
Eero Ignatius
Paul Aksman
Tuomo Matero
Adrian Rigopulos
Juraj Valencik
Piotr Zimnik

Elina Raijas
Niamh Mc Kenna
Päivi Korhonen
Jenny Villanen

Hannu Perttilä
Jussi Jaatinen
Nils Rõõmussaar
Paula Malmivaara

Osmo Linkola
Anna-Maija Korsimaa
Heikki Nikula
Nora Niskanen

Markus Tuukkanen
Mikko-Pekka Svala
Noora Van Dok
Yasuko Matsuzaki-Svala

Mika Paajanen
Ville Hiilivirta
Miska Miettunen
Sam Parkkonen
Hannu Kilpi
Pasi Tiitinen

Thomas Bugnot
Mika Tuomisalo
Pasqual Llopis Diago
Obin Meurin
Tomas Gricius

Valtteri Malmivirta
Anu Fagerström
Pierrick Caboche

Ilkka Marttila

Tomi Wikström

Xavi Castelló Aràndiga
Pasi Suomalainen




Jukka-Pekka Saraste
Pekka Kuusisto


    Anna Clyne
    Time and Tides, Violin Concerto (world premiere)
    Anton Bruckner
    Symphony No. 5
Series IV
Musiikkitalo Concert Hall
Jukka-Pekka Saraste
Pekka Kuusisto
Anna Clyne
Time and Tides, Violin Concerto (world premiere)
Anton Bruckner
Symphony No. 5