Jukka-Pekka Saraste has established himself as one of the outstanding conductors of his generation, demonstrating remarkable musical depth and integrity. Born in Heinola, Finland, he began his career as a violinist before training as a conductor with Jorma Panula at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki. An artist of exceptional versatility and breadth and renowned for his objective approach, he feels a special affinity with the sound and style of late Romantic music. He maintains a particularly strong connection to the works of Beethoven, Bruckner, Mahler, Shostakovich, Strawinsky and Sibelius.

At the end of the 2018/2019 season, Jukka-Pekka Saraste finished his tenure as Chief Conductor of the WDR Symphony Orchestra in Cologne, where he had served since 2010. During this time, the orchestra built up a reputation both at home and abroad, touring Austria, Spain, the Baltic, and Asia. The symphonic cycles of Sibelius, Brahms and Beethoven were expectionally well received. Previously, from 2006 to 2013, Jukka-Pekka Saraste was Music Director and Chief Conductor of the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, where he was subsequently appointed Conductor Laureate, the very first such title bestowed by that orchestra. Earlier positions include the principal conductorships of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, where he is now Conductor Laureate, and Toronto Symphony Orchestra. He also served as Principal Guest Conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Artistic Advisor of the Lahti Symphony Orchestra. He founded the Finnish Chamber Orchestra, the Artistic Advisor of which he still is, and also initiated the orchestra´s annual Tammisaari Festival, for which he is Artistic Director. Last but not least, he is a founding member of LEAD! The Orchestra Project, which aims to teach effective musical leadership and communication skills to aspiring young musicians within the context of orchestra playing, in workshops, concerts and masterclasses. Recent LEAD! activities include orchestra projects at the Haute Ecole de Musique de Lausanne, Aurora Festival in Stockholm and with the Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra.

His guest engagements have led him to the major orchestras worldwide, including the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Munich Philharmonic, Dresden Staatskapelle, Bavarian Radio Symphony, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Vienna Symphony, NHK Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris and the leading Scandinavian orchestras, among others. In North America he has conducted the Cleveland Orchestra, Boston Symphony, Chicago Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Detroit Symphony, New York Philharmonic, as well as Orchestre symphonique de Montréal. In recent years, he has increasingly ventured into opera and, following concert performances of Stravinsky’s Oedipux Rex, Schönberg’s Erwartung and Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle, had a great success at Theater an der Wien in Vienna in early 2019 with a new scenic production of Mendelssohn’s Elijah, directed by Calixto Bieito. In the 2019-2020 season, he will conduct Korngold’s Die tote Stadt at the Finnish National Opera.

Jukka-Pekka Saraste´s extensive discography includes the complete symphonies of Sibelius and Nielsen with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra and a number of well-received recordings with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra of works by Bartók, Dutilleux, Mussorgsky and Prokofiev for Warner Finlandia. His CDs with WDR Symphony Orchestra for Hänssler have likewise earned him much critical praise, and include Schönberg’s Pelleas and Melisande, Stravinsky’s Le Rossignol, Brahms’ complete Symphonies as well as Mahler’s 5th and 9th Symphony and Bruckner’s Symphony No. 8. The complete cycle of Beethoven’s symphonies was released in spring 2019 to high critical acclaim and can be regarded as legacy of his tenure in Cologne.

Jukka-Pekka Saraste has received the Pro Finlandia Prize, the Sibelius Medal, and the Finnish State Prize for Music. He was awarded honorary doctorates from York University, Toronto and Sibelius Academy, Helsinki.

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