Sakari Oramo as BBC Symphony Orchestra Chief Conductor Designate

Published 23.2.2012

BBC Symphony Orchestra announces new Chief Conductor
23 February 2012

The BBC Symphony Orchestra today announced the appointment of Finnish conductor Sakari Oramo as its Chief Conductor Designate. His first performance as Chief Conductor of the Orchestra will be at the 2013 BBC Proms, followed by four concerts in the 2013/14 Barbican season.

The announcement follows Oramo’s acclaimed concert with the BBC SO in October, which launched the orchestra’s season long exploration of Sibelius’ symphonies. Surprisingly, the concert marked Oramo’s debut with a London orchestra. The programme combined his Finnish heritage and passion for British music, developed over his tenure as Music Director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (1998 - 2008). In 2008 Oramo was awarded the Elgar Medal recognising his dedication to the music of Elgar and reflecting his wider interest in British music, repertoire for which the BBC SO is world renowned.

"The cycle began with the pivotal Symphony No 3. The music is, of course, in Oramo’s blood. By transfusion it coursed through the orchestra, too, sweeping them across a kaleidoscope that in uncertain hands can seem a thing of threads and patches. No patchwork here; this splendid performance grew organically from the opening vigorous rustic dance, through the Andantino’s lingering dreamscape, to the finale’s winks, nods and soaring climax. Each instrumental section excelled – something only possible when a conductor and the BBC players click. Oramo and the orchestra also fitted like hand and glove in Arnold Bax’s Tintagel.”
The Times, October 2011

Represented worldwide by HarrisonParrott, Oramo is also Chief Conductor and Artistic Advisor of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, Co-Founder and Principal Conductor of West Coast Kokkola Opera, and Chief Conductor Designate of the Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra. Oramo’s Finnish roots and Scandinavian appointments complement the BBC SO’s strong history of performing works from the region, including UK premieres by Saariaho, Rautavaara and Aho this season. Oramo is equally committed to new music and has given first performances of works by Saariaho, Lindberg, Peter Eötvös, Anderson, Fagerlund and Martinsson amongst others.

Sakari Oramo said: "I am very excited about my future collaboration with the BBC Symphony Orchestra. The Orchestra and I cherish many common values: aspiration, curiosity and a strong desire to work hard in order to achieve the highest possible artistic standards. Having served as Music Director of the CBSO for ten seasons, I am delighted to be returning to the musical scene of the UK. I am planning to explore a wide range of repertory with the Orchestra, notably also new aspects in the rich landscape of British music, present and past.”

Roger Wright, Controller, BBC Radio 3 and Director, BBC Proms said: "I’m thrilled that Sakari Oramo has agreed to become the next Chief Conductor in a line of distinguished artists who have led the orchestra throughout its creative life. His commitment to new work, British music and his first-rate interpretations of standard repertoire make him the perfect fit for the wide ranging work of the BBC Symphony Orchestra in its broadcast and public performances, not least at the Proms.”

Paul Hughes, General Manager, BBC Symphony Orchestra said: "The chemistry that Sakari and the BBC Symphony Orchestra created was extraordinary; I truly believe we are in for exciting times as we build on the great legacy of Jiří Bělohlávek’s achievements and look forward to exploring the wide range of Sakari’s musical interests.”

Now in his tenth and final season as Chief Conductor of the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Oramo began his career as concertmaster of the same orchestra, immersing himself as both player and conductor of a major broadcast orchestra giving him the ideal background for the broadcast commitments of the BBC SO.

Oramo has recently worked with the Chicago, Boston and Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestras, the Berlin and New York Philharmonics, and the Staatskapelle Dresden. Next season he will make his debut with the Vienna Philharmonic. He was made an OBE in 2009 for services to music.

Sakari Oramo’s appointment follows the extremely successful tenure of Jiří Bělohlávek as Chief Conductor, whose relationship with the BBC SO, initially as Principal Guest Conductor, continues to develop as he takes on the role of Conductor Laureate from the beginning of the 2012/13 season.

For further information or images, please contact
Camilla Dervan, Communications Manager
020 7765 4714, camilla.dervan[at]