Composer and conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen’s restless innovation drives him constantly to reposition classical music in the twenty-first century. He is Music Director Designate of the San Francisco Symphony, Principal Conductor & Artistic Advisor for the Philharmonia Orchestra (through the 2020-21 season), and Conductor Laureate for both the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He is the Artist-in-Association at the Finnish National Opera and Ballet, where he will conduct his first full Ring cycle in future seasons, and Pelléas et Mélisande this season. Salonen co-founded the annual Baltic Sea festival, serving as Artistic Director from 2003 to 2018.
Thirteen of Salonen’s works are programmed around the world during the 2018-19 season—from playful early pieces to his melodically and rhythmically complex new works. Among them are Homunculus, for string quartet; Helix, at the Minnesota Orchestra and Oslo Philharmonic; and LA Variations at the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He also conducts his own Pollux at the Helsinki Festival and Maggio Fiorentino, and his cello concerto on tour with the Philharmonia and at the Baltic Sea Festival, with Truls Mørk as soloist. Last year the New York Philharmonic and the Barbican Centre shaped their programming around Salonen's music as part of his composer-in-residence in New York and a season-long Salonen focus in London.
2018-19 sees Salonen conducting the San Francisco Symphony in January 2019 performances, and the Philharmonia Orchestra on tour across Europe, the US, and Asia. Salonen will also direct a new Ivo Van Hove production of Weill’s Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny at the Aix-en-Provence Festival in summer 2019. Recent years have seen Salonen experiment with 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, and the much-hailed iPad app, The Orchestra.
As the Music Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic for seventeen years, Salonen is widely credited with revitalising the organization. He was instrumental in helping the orchestra to open Walt Disney Concert Hall; presided over countless premieres of contemporary work; began the Esa-Pekka Salonen Commissions Fund, and made the orchestra one of the best-attended and funded in the USA. In spring 2019 he brings a series that he created at the Philharmonia to the Los Angeles Philharmonic, presenting programs of Stravinsky’s “Myths,” “Rituals,” and “Faith.”
Salonen has an extensive and varied recording career. An album of Henri Dutilleux’s Correspondances, recorded with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France in the presence of the composer, was released in 2013 by Deutsche Grammophon on the composer’s 97th birthday. Also that year, Sony completed a project that began with Salonen and the Los Angeles Philharmonic nearly thirty years before: a two-disc set of the orchestral works of Witold Lutosławski, released in what would have been the composer’s 100th year. An album of five of his orchestral works is available on Sony. Salonen’s most recent recordings include a disc of Stravinsky’s Persephone, released by Pentatone Music, and a 61-disc box set of all Salonen’s recordings for Sony. 2019 sees a much-anticipated release for Salonen’s cello concerto.