Director / Violin
Described as “one-of-a-kind” by Toronto’s The Globe and Mail, Pekka Kuusisto is renowned for his fresh approach to the repertoire. Widely recognised for his flair in directing ensembles from the violin, Kuusisto is Artistic Partner with The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and Artistic Director of ACO Collective - 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. After a longstanding creative collaboration with the ensemble, in 2017 he became Artistic Best Friend of Die Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen. In 2018 he is Guest Artistic Leader of the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra. Other directing engagements include concerts with Tapiola Sinfonietta and the Swedish and Mahler chamber orchestras.
Highlights of the 2017/18 season include concerto appearances with the Concertgebouw Orchestra, Orquestra Sinfônica do Estado de São Paulo, Orchestre de Paris and Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra. He also embarks upon a European tour with the Philharmonia Orchestra as well as appearing with the Orchestra throughout the season, play-directs the Karajan-Akademie der Berliner Philharmoniker with tenor Mark Padmore and takes up a mini-residency at Pierre Boulez Saal with REDDRESS, a collaborative project with South-Korean artist Aamu Song that blurs the boundaries between performance and visual art.
The Finnish violinist is also an enthusiastic advocate of contemporary music. In the coming season Kuusisto will premiere new works by Daníel Bjarnason, Sauli Zinovjev and Andrea Tarrodi. The Bjarnason Violin Concerto, commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Iceland Symphony Orchestra this summer, was premiered at the Hollywood Bowl with the Los Angeles Philharmonic conducted by Gustavo Dudamel. In autumn 2017 he will premiere Sauli Zinovjev’s violin concerto Der Leiermann with Oulu Symphony Orchestra conducted by Johannes Gustavsson. Andrea Tarrodi’s Acanthes, Double Concerto for two violins and string orchestra written for Kuusisto and Malin Broman, will be premiered with Musica Vitae in April 2018 during the Stockholm Concert House’s annual Composer Weekend. Last season, he premiered Bach Materia, by Anders Hillborg with the Swedish Chamber Orchestra and Thomas Dausgaard. As a composer, together with Samuli Kosminen, Kuusisto is composing, performing and recording the music for a new animated television series of Tove Jansson’s Moomin stories.
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 Hauschka and Kosminen, Dutch neurologist Erik Scherder, pioneer of electronic music, Brian Crabtree, eminent jazz-trumpeter Arve Henriksen, juggler Jay Gilligan; and accordionist Dermot Dunne. Kuusisto is Artistic Director of the award-winning ‘Our Festival’, which takes place annually in Sibelius’ hometown, Järvenpää.
Recent concerto appearances include the Edinburgh International Festival as part of a European tour with the Minnesota Orchestra and Osmo Vänskä, the London BBC Proms with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Thomas Dausgaard, as well as concerts with the Seattle, Cincinnati, Finnish Radio symphony orchestras. A keen chamber musician, regular chamber partners include Nicolas Altstaedt, Anne Sofie von Otter, Simon Crawford-Phillips, Alexander Lonquich and Olli Mustonen.
Kuusisto has released several recordings, notably for Ondine and BIS. Recent releases include Erkki-Sven Tüür’s Noesis, Concerto for Violin and Orchestra for Ondine, and Sebastian Fagerlund’s violin concerto Darkness in Light for BIS both recorded with Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra and Hannu Lintu. In 2018 he will record Hillborg’s Bach Materia and Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos No.3 and 4 with the Swedish Chamber Orchestra and Thomas Dausgaard for BIS.
Pekka Kuusisto plays a fine Stradivari violin kindly loaned to him through the Beares International Violin Society.