Extraordinary individuality, artistic curiosity and a spirit of adventure are among the qualities that have established Pekka Kuusisto as one of the most compelling artists in his generation.
If your idea of a classical violinist is someone impeccably dressed in a suit or a flowing evening gown placed in front of a symphony orchestra, you will be pleasantly surprised when you meet our guest artistic leader for 2017/18, composer, conductor and a star violinist Pekka Kuusisto. Described by the Telegraph as a musician “who surely has the most personal sound of any classical violinist now alive”, this Finnish violinist enjoys jamming with jazz and electronics as much as playing Tchaikovsky’s violin concerto. It is his genuine interest in different genres of music and ability to channel his musicianship in many different directions that distinguishes him from his contemporaries.
Kuusisto came into the international limelight in 1995 when he won one of the world’s most coveted violin competitions, the Sibelius Prize, beating Nikolai Znaider and Lisa Batiashvilli into second and third places. While all three are the world’s most sought-after concerto soloists, Kuusisto has taken a slightly different path in terms of his choices of repertoire and the way he channels his creativity.
In addition to his busy schedule as soloist in prestigious concert halls around the world and directing commitments for ensembles such as Mahler Chamber Orchestra and Australian Chamber Orchestra, he regularly engages with artists across the wide artistic spectrum. “I would like to see a modern violinist being an unprejudiced musician, not afraid to explore the properties of his instrument over the entire spectrum and not afraid to conduct the orchestra from behind his instrument.” he says.
This spirit of adventure feeds into the performances he gives with classical repertoire also and we will be able to hear it for ourselves when he leads the DNK in programmes that spans from Haydn’s Farewell Symphony, Beethoven’s Violin Concerto to Anders Hillborg’s new violin concerto with an improvisation by Kuusisto.
“I sometimes imagine how interesting music-making must have been before we had recordings and standardised interpretations of a repertoire of pieces,” reflects Kuusisto. “For me playing a lot of folk music has changed the way I play classical compositions; playing improvised music in general lets you train your focus on something other than the technique or the sound. That certainly makes performing more interesting.”
Concerts with Pekka Kuusisto
Beethoven: Violin Concerto in D major
Haydn: Symphony No. 45, Farewell Symphony
Nordheim: Partita für Paul
Ford: Bright shiners
Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No. 3
Hillborg: Bach materia for solo violin and string orchestra
Guest artistic director for Season 17/18
Pekka Kuusisto performing Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto at the BBC Proms 2016