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Biography

Violinist, Musical Director, and Artistic Trailblazer

Violinist, conductor, and composer Pekka Kuusisto is renowned for his artistic freedom and fresh approach to the repertoire. Widely recognized for his flair in directing ensembles, Kuusisto is Artistic Director of the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra (beginning with the 2021–22 season), and Artistic Partner with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and Mahler Chamber Orchestra. He is also a Collaborative Partner of the San Francisco Symphony and Artistic Best Friend of Die Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen. In the 2020–21 season, Kuusisto is Artist-in-Residence with the hr-Sinfonieorchester Frankfurt with whom he will appear as soloist, conductor, and chamber musician. He is also Artist-in-Residence at Milton Court at the Barbican, culminating in a concert with the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra.

Kuusisto is an enthusiastic advocate of contemporary music and a gifted improviser, regularly engaging with people across the artistic spectrum. Uninhibited by conventional genre boundaries and noted for his innovative programming, recent projects have included collaborations with experimental pianist Hauschka and percussionist Samuli Kosminen, Dutch neurologist Erik Scherder, pioneer of electronic music Brian Crabtree, eminent jazz trumpeter Arve Henriksen, juggler Jay Gilligan, accordionist Dermot Dunne, and folk artist Sam Amidon. In the coming season he will premiere new concertos by Bryce Dessner, Djuro Zivkovic, and Enrico Chapela, and chamber works by Sauli Zinovjev and Calliope Tsoupaki. He also performs other concertos written for him, including Daníel Bjarnason’s Violin Concerto and Nico Muhly’s Violin Concerto, Shrink. In recent seasons Kuusisto has premiered new works by Sauli Zinovjev, Anders Hillborg, Philip Venables, and Andrea Tarrodi. He also tours around the world with orchestras such as the Chicago Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, London Philharmonic, BBC Symphony, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, WDR Symphony Orchestra Köln, Philharmonia Orchestra, Tapiola Sinfonietta, and the Australian, Scottish, and Swedish chamber orchestras.

Kuusisto has released several recordings, including several notable albums for the Ondine and BIS labels. He has recently recorded Thomas Adès’ Violin Concerto with the Aurora Orchestra and Nicolas Collon for Deutsche Grammophon; Anders Hillborg’s Bach Materia and Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos Nos. 3 and 4 with the Swedish Chamber Orchestra and Thomas Dausgaard for BIS; and Daníel Bjarnason’s Violin Concerto with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra with the composer conducting for the Sono Luminus label. Past releases include Erkki-Sven Tüür’s Double Concerto for Violin and Clarinet, Noësis, for Ondine and Sebastian Fagerlund’s Violin Concerto, Darkness in Light, for BIS, both recorded with Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra and Hannu Lintu.