Biography Ismo Eskelinen, Lapland Chamber Orchestra & John Storgårds

Ismo Eskelinen, Lapland Chamber Orchestra & John Storgårds

Ismo Eskelinen
is acclaimed as one of the world’s finest classical guitarists. He has been a pioneer in bringing classical guitar for wider audience playing often as an orchestra soloist, chamber musician and in collaboration with some of the most distinguished contemporary composers. His impressive list of recordings include two Bach albums, of which the first won the Finnish Emma prize in the category of the best classical album in 2014. A concerto recording with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Hannu Lintu was released in 2018 (BIS). The latest recordings are ‘Songbook’ with Jan Vogler (Sony Classical 2019), ’Carnival’ (BIS 2019) with Karen Gomyo and ’Kromos’ (BIS 2020), a solo album that contains music composed for Eskelinen.

Eskelinen has performed at venues such as the Berlin Philharmonic, Concertgebouw Amsterdam, the Royal Festival Hall and the Théâtre de la Monnaie. He is the first guitarist to be invited as a soloist at the new Music Hall in Helsinki with both resident orchestras, The Helsinki Philharmonic and The Finnish Radio Symphony. Recent soloist engagements include the BBC Symphony Orchestra in London, NWD Philharmonie in Germany, the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra, Sinfonia Lahti and the Chamber Orchestra of Lapland with conductors such as Sakari Oramo, Hannu Lintu, John Storgårds, Dima Slobodeniuk, Olli Mustonen, Miguel Harth-Bedoya and Ernest Martínez-Izquierdo.

As an active chamber musician, Eskelinen plays regular duos with violinist Karen Gomyo and the cellist Jan Vogler. He is a regular guest on several festivals such as Naantali and Moritzburg, and has been the first ever guitarist to be invited to many of them, including the Moritzburg, Dresden, Charlottesville, Mainz, Sylt, Holstebro and Büsingen Festivals.

Eskelinen’s repertoire spans music from the 16th century to the present day and he has been equally acclaimed for his performances of Bach as for his premieres of works written for him by composers such as Einojuhani Rautavaara, Aulis Sallinen, Jukka Tiensuu, Kalevi Aho, Olli Mustonen and Sebastian Fagerlund.

Eskelinen is the Lecturer-in-charge of Guitar at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki and Sonkajärvi Soi festival in Finland. He was the Artistic Director of the Riihimäki summer concerts 2017-2023. As the Artist in Residence at Verkatehdas, Hämeenlinna he planned a Global Guitar – concert series for seasons 2016–2017.

Chamber Orchestra of Lapland
Founded in 1972, the Lapland Chamber Orchestra – Rovaniemi City Orchestra is the northernmost professional chamber orchestra in Finland and indeed in the entire EU. The orchestra has 19 full-time members and its Artistic Director is the world wide renowned conductor John Storgårds. The orchestra’s Principal Guest Conductor is pianist, conductor and composer Olli Mustonen.

Based at Korundi House of Culture in Rovaniemi, the orchestra is a regional orchestra that regularly tours the Province of Lapland, but also performs elsewhere in Finland and along the Cap of the North. The orchestra has performed at festivals such as the Savonlinna Opera Festival, Helsinki Festival and the Korsholma Music Festival. Abroad, the orchestra has visited Austria, Sweden, Denmark, Scotland, Germany, Russia and Algeria, with the latest tours taking the orchestra to Hungary and Canada. In 2014, the orchestra performed at the legendary BBC Proms festival in London as the first chamber orchestra from Finland.

The repertoire of the Lapland Chamber Orchestra reflects our time. The programme includes works by contemporary composers, without forgetting the more classical repertoire and rare gems from different periods. The orchestra has given first performances of works by many prominent composers. Distinguished guest performers have included Soile Isokoski, Håkan Hardenberger, Christian Tetzlaff, Nicholas Daniel, Nicholas Kraemer, Piers Adams, Colin Currie, Sabine Meyer, Benjamin Schmid, Kirill Gerstein and Tuomas Katajala. The orchestra has collaborated with the BBC Philharmonic orchestra, among others.

In addition to chamber concert experiences, the orchestra holds final rehearsals that are open to the public as well as artist meetings between the orchestra’s musicians, visitors and audience. Concerts in villages and at schools, music sessions with the audience and contacts with music lovers are also important to the orchestra. Commitment to music is reflected in the orchestra’s ability to perform jazz, tango and world music alongside wonderful classical works.

The work and recordings of the Lapland Chamber Orchestra have gained recognition. For example, the orchestra’s recording of the Chamber Symphonies of Vagn Holmboe received rave reviews and was a nominee for the 2013 Gramophone Award. The recording of Kalevi Aho’s concertos for theremin and horn, in turn, received the distinguished German ECHO Klassik award in 2015. The latest release of Hans Abrahamsen's Schnee was nomineed for the 2022 Gramophone Award finalist and ICMA 2022 Award and is nomineed for Finnish Emma 2023 Award.

John Storgårds
Having begun his career as a violinist, John Storgårds is one of the most remarkable Finnish conductors of his generation. He is widely recognised for his creative flair for programming and his commitment to contemporary music. Former chief conductor of the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra (2008–15), Storgårds is artistic director of the Lapland Chamber Orchestra (since 1996) and chief guest conductor of the BBC Philharmonic (since 2012) and the National Arts Centre Orchestra Ottawa (since 2015). He has also made guest appearances with, for example, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Danish National Symphony Orchestra, Bamberger Symphoniker, New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the orchestras of Boston, St Louis, Toronto and Cleveland. Storgårds has made numerous acclaimed recordings featuring not only standard repertoire but also rarities and contemporary music. He also appears frequently as a chamber musician and violinist at festivals, and as a violin soloist with orchestras such as the WDR Sinfonieorchester in Cologne. John Storgårds studied orchestral conducting, composition and violin playing in Finland – where his teachers included Esther Rautio and Jouko Ignatius – and in Israel under the legendary violinist Chaim Taub. He gained his conducting diploma from the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki in 1997. He received the Finnish State Prize for Music in 2002 and the Pro Finlandia Prize in 2012.

The Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra (RSPO)
was founded in 1902 and has made its home in the Stockholm Concert Hall since 1926. The orchestra endeavours to reinvigorate and expand the traditional symphonic repertoire, organising an annual, internationally renowned composer festival and regularly premièring new works. It has also been noted for its pioneering efforts towards a more gender-balanced repertoire. The RSPO participates annually at the Nobel Prize Award Ceremony. Sakari Oramo has been chief conductor and artistic director of the RSPO since 2008. His predecessor Alan Gilbert

led the orchestra from 2000 until 2008 and is its conductor laureate. Furthermore, Franz Welser-Möst has been awarded the title Eric Ericson Honorary Chair by the orchestra, a position that involves making annual guest appearances with the orchestra. Through successful tours and award-winning recordings the orchestra has confirmed its international standing, to the point of being called ‘one of the finest orchestras in the world’ (Die Welt).

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