Conductor, pianist and composer Olli Mustonen has been named as the new Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of Turku Philharmonic Orchestra. Mustonen will be taking up his new role on 1 January 2021; his term is set to last three years, with the option to renew for another two years. Mustonen is renowned nationally and internationally as a top artist, with his contacts spanning prominent artists around the world, not to mention a strong network of influential figures in Finland too.
In his new position, Mustonen will be in charge of the orchestra’s artistic direction. Over the coming seasons he will conduct the orchestra and work closely with it in a variety of ways, including in his roles as pianist and composer.
Mustonen is a popular guest artist in Turku, and his collaborative history with Turku Philharmonic Orchestra stretches back decades. Mustonen performed most recently with TPO in November 2019.
“Turku Philharmonic and I have a long shared history, having been working together in all kinds of different ways for over 35 years. Returning to conduct the TPO is just as exhilarating and inspiring every single time – I am fortunate to be able to count many of its members as both old friends from student days and newer friends, too. Here, I feel as if we speak the same musical language, we understand one another, and our collaboration always manages to pick up exactly where we left off last time. The orchestra is living through the most extraordinarily interesting times – I see the TPO’s future as bright, and full of potential,” states Olli Mustonen.
“Olli is an endless fount of musical ideas. Our planning collaboration so far for forthcoming seasons leaves no doubt in my mind that these concerts will be tremendous, with varied and surprising programmes, not to mention top guest appearances. We are delighted that our long-term collaboration has led to this exciting new development. Olli is both an inspiring colleague and a favourite artist amongst audiences, and now a new treasure for Turku,” declares Turku Philharmonic Orchestra Chief Executive Maati Rehor.
Combining the roles of conductor, pianist and composer, Olli Mustonen’s musicianship is unusually multifaceted.
In recent seasons, Mustonen has performed as a soloist with the London Symphony Orchestra, the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra, and the New York Philharmonic, to name just a few. As a conductor, in recent years he has worked with the likes of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra and a wide variety of European orchestras. He has toured Central Europe, Japan and China with the Helsinki Festival Orchestra, which he co-founded.
The current focus of Mustonen’s composition work is large-scale chamber music pieces, with some of his more recent works including pieces for a piano quintet and a string quartet. Last autumn, Mustonen’s ‘Taivaanvalot’ (‘Heavenly Lights’), a symphony for tenor, cello and piano based on the Finnish national epic, Kalevala, and composed for Ian Bostridge and Steven Isserlis, was performed for the first time in Amsterdam and London. To celebrate the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, Beethoven-Haus in Bonn commissioned Mustonen to compose a piece for a string sextet, with the work premiering at the city’s Beethoven festival in February 2020.
Mustonen’s vast recording output includes an Edison and Gramophone award winning recording of preludes by Shostakovich and Alkan. His most recent recordings include Beethoven’s piano concertos and and also all of Prokofiev’s piano concertos, produced with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra and conductor Hannu Lintu.
Mustonen was chosen as the 2019 recipient of the Hindemith music prize and has also received the Finland Prize from the Ministry of Education and Culture in Finland and the Pro Finlandia Medal of the Order of the Lion of Finland in 2003.
Pictures: Heikki Tuuli