Jukka-Pekka Saraste to follow Andre Previn as music director of Oslo
Saraste's five-year contract to start from beginning of 2006/07 season
Jukka-Pekka Saraste (b. 1956) has been chosen to become the next music director of the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra. Saraste will assume the role in the autumn of 2006, when the orchestra's present chief conductor André Previn, 75, pulls out, taking on the title of conductor laureate.
"We agreed on a five-year contract, which will include ten weeks of concerts in Oslo each year, plus tours and recordings on top of that", Saraste explains.
As far as its repertoire is concerned, the Oslo Philharmonic is considered slightly conservative, but the ensemble is seen as extremely accomplished. During Maris Jansons's 20-year period as the chief conductor, the orchestra was even regarded as number one in the Nordic Countries.
"For twenty years I have had the privilege of working with these guys", Saraste recalls.
"The orchestra is of extremely high standard, with artistry in a pivotal role. The dynamic new manager Mårten Walderhaug managed to convince me that we wanted the same things."
"The orchestra is particularly skilled in the kind of repertoire that I am interested in as well: from Bruckner and Mahler to Sibelius and Nielsen, not to mention my Finnish contemporaries, the likes of Magnus Lindberg and Kaija Saariaho."
"I have yet to make contacts with Norwegian contemporary composers. This is something I am keen on doing as well", says Saraste, the creator of the Finnish Avanti! Chamber Orchestra, famed for its contemporary renderings.
"Personally, I believe the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra is still the best orchestra in the North."
"Jansons managed to put together a fantastic orchestra, to which Previn added freedom of expression. Now I'm expected to spice it up with my own flavour, to make the orchestra 'look like me'."
The orchestra's home venue has recently been acoustically revamped.
"The starting point is very different from Helsinki's Finlandia Hall or Toronto's Roy Thompson Hall", compares Saraste, who was the music director of the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra from 1987 to 2001, and the artistic director of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in 1994-2001.
Recently, Saraste has been primarily a freelance conductor, while enjoying the position of the principal guest conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra. His name frequently came up in discussions, whenever a music director's position became vacant in London, Paris, or Stockholm.
"Intuition finally made me sign a contract with the Oslo Philharmonic."
This spring Saraste will relinquish his post as the guest conductor of the BBC orchestra. He will continue as artistic advisor for the Finnish Chamber Orchestra, and as the artistic director of the Tammisaari Summer Concerts.
In the autumn, Saraste will make his debut in an orchestral concert at Milan's La Scala. Other upcoming debuts include conducting orchestras such as the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam and the Chicago Philharmonic Orchestra.
New recording contracts are also in the pipeline, as are tours with the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra.
"My new employer has a fine reputation as a touring orchestra. They get to play in some great venues. This was one factor that contributed to my decision to take up the post", said Saraste. He will be conducting in Oslo twice this week.
Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra press release