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Esa-Pekka Salonen

Conductor Laureate

About this Artist

Esa-Pekka Salonen’s restless innovation drives him constantly to reposition classical music in the 21st century. He is known as both a composer and conductor and is currently the Principal Conductor & Artistic Advisor for the Philharmonia Orchestra. He is also the Conductor Laureate for both the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, where he was Music Director from 1992 until 2009. He is the Music Director Designate of the San Francisco Symphony; the 2020-21 season will be his first as Music Director. He is the Artist in Association at the Finnish National Opera and Ballet, where he will conduct his first full Ring cycle. He is a faculty member at the Colburn School in Los Angeles, where he developed and leads the pre-professional Neuganee Conducting Program. In 2003 he co-founded the annual Baltic Sea Festival, serving as Artistic Director until 2018.

Salonen’s compositions, ranging from playful early works to melodically and rhythmically complex new works, have been programmed around the world. He has released more than 50 albums as both conductor and composer. Recent releases include a 61-disc box set of his Sony recordings and a recording of his Cello Concerto, performed by Yo-Yo Ma. He is a skilled artistic director and curator, with performance series such as Stravinsky: Faith, Myths and Rituals and Weimar Berlin: Bittersweet Metropolis earning praise from critics and audiences alike. He is also known as an early adopter of emerging technology; recent years have seen him experiment with virtual reality and co-create the award-winning iOS app The Orchestra. Salonen is the recipient of many major awards; his Violin Concerto won the prestigious Grawemeyer Award and was featured in a 2014 international Apple ad campaign for the iPad. To date, he has received seven honorary doctorates in four different countries; he was elected an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2010.