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Conductor and composer Esa-Pekka Salonen has been Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor of the Philharmonia Orchestra London since 2008 and Artistic Director of the Baltic Sea Festival since 2003. After seventeen years at its helm as Music Director, he has also held the title of Conductor Laureate of the Los Angeles Philharmonic since 2009.
Salonen’s appointment with the Philharmonia cements a relationship that dates back over 25 years. He made his London conducting début at the age of 25 with the Philharmonia Orchestra in September 1983, stepping in at the last minute to lead a now-legendary performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 3. He accepted the position of Principal Guest Conductor, which he held from 1985-1994, and has returned to conduct the Orchestra on a regular basis ever since. Some of the Philharmonia’s most ambitious and important projects during this time, from Clocks and Clouds (Ligeti, 1996) to Related Rocks (Magnus Lindberg, 2001-2), took place under his artistic leadership.
In his first season as Principal Conductor in 2008, he devised and led the City of Dreams project, a nine-month exploration of the music and culture of Vienna between 1900 and 1935, which travelled to 18 European cities. With the Philharmonia and in other projects, Esa-Pekka Salonen’s work has consistently focused on multi-artform collaboration, artistic excellence and rich learning opportunities, rediscovering and reinvigorating the music of the past for our times.
For the 2011/12 season he continued his artistic odyssey with the Philharmonia through performances of Bartók’s Duke Bluebeard's Castle in collaboration with video collective Yeast Culture as part of the project Infernal Dance: Inside the World of Béla Bartók, launched in January 2011. With 20 concerts in 11 European cities, the project explored the life, influences and music of Béla Bartók.
Also this season at the annual Baltic Sea Festival, which invites celebrated orchestras, conductors and soloists to promote unity and ecological awareness among the countries around the Baltic Sea, Esa-Pekka Salonen pays homage to his rich artistic legacy in Scandinavia by programming and collaborating with the region’s top artistic institutions. Since its inception, these have included, among others, the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra (where he made his conducting debut in 1979), the Helsinki Philharmonic, the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra (of which he was Chief Conductor from 1985-1995) and the Helsinki Festival (of which he was Artistic Director in 1995 and 1996).