Esa-Pekka Salonen’s restless innovation drives him constantly to reposition classical music in the 21st century. He is currently the Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor for London’s Philharmonia Orchestra and the Conductor Laureate for the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He has served as Composer-in-Residence at the New York Philharmonic and Artist in Association at the Finnish National Opera and Ballet. Additionally, Salonen is Artistic Director and cofounder of the annual Baltic Sea Festival, which invites celebrated artists to promote unity and ecological awareness among the countries around the Baltic Sea. He is an advisor to the Sync Project, a global initiative to harness the power of music for human health.
Salonen’s works move freely between contemporary idioms, combining intricacy and technical virtuosity with playful rhythmic and melodic innovations. He has written many orchestral, chamber, and choral works, in addition to concertos for cellist Yo-Yo Ma, pianist Yefim Bronfman, and violinist Leila Josefowicz. The Violin Concerto won the prestigious Grawemeyer Award and was featured in a 2014 international Apple ad campaign for iPad. Salonen was the first Creative Chair at the Tonhalle Orchestra Zürich, where he wrote Karawane for orchestra and chorus, based on a poem by Dadaist Hugo Ball, which was also featured in a sound-and-light installation in London’s Beech Street Tunnel.
Salonen and the Philharmonia Orchestra have experimented in groundbreaking ways to present music, with the first major virtual-reality production from a UK symphony orchestra; the award-winning RE-RITE and Universe of Sound installations, which have allowed people all over the world to conduct, play, and step inside the orchestra through audio and video projections, and the much-hailed app for iPad, The Orchestra, which allows the user unprecedented access to the internal workings of eight symphonic works.
Photo by Katja Tähjä