Dima Slobodeniouk has been appointed as Principal Conductor of the Lahti Symphony Orchestra, starting in autumn 2016

Published 18.8.2015

The Lahti Symphony Orchestra has appointed Dima Slobodeniouk as its new Principal Conductor, starting in the autumn of 2016 when Okko Kamu’s term as chief conductor expires. The City Board of the Lahti Municipality Association made the appointment at a meeting on 17th August 2015. Slobodeniouk’s contract will run until the spring season of 2019, and from 2016 onwards he will also become Artistic Director of the orchestra’s international Sibelius Festival.

Slobodeniouk: ‘A big honour to create something new on the foundation of a great orchestra tradition’

Slobodeniouk remarks: ‘When people ask me whether I have always wanted to be a conductor, more and more often my answer is: No, I have not. Despite me, growing up in a family of orchestra musicians, I simply had no idea what it is like to be a conductor. Today, when the fact of me taking over a position of Music Director of Lahti Symphony Orchestra becomes a reality, I once again realise, that being a conductor is what I want and what I live for.’ Slobodeniouk sees the forthcoming collaboration as a wonderful chance to develop musical relationships with the orchestra and audiences both in Lahti and internationally. ‘I was lucky enough to be able to build and maintain a very open and fruitful relationship with Lahti Symphony Orchestra ever since I first conducted them in 2001 replacing Leif Segerstam. Today – this is a big honour and a challenge for me to create something new on the foundation of a great orchestra tradition in Lahti’, says Slobodeniouk. ‘I believe and hope, that with our music making we can influence people’s lives regardless of their age or social background. The unique thing about classical music is the fact that it does not have to be verbalised or explained. That way it can reach and touch anyone.’

The General Manager, Committee Chairman and Mayor welcome the appointment

Teemu Kirjonen, General Manager of the Lahti Symphony Orchestra, is very happy with the conductor’s appointment: ‘After the triumphant chief conductorships of Vänskä, Saraste and Kamu, we are looking forward to our time with Slobodeniouk with great enthusiasm. On the basis of what the orchestra has already achieved with him in the past few years, we may expect great things in the future.’ Slobodeniouk already enjoys a major international career and, Kirjonen believes, having him as Principal Conductor will be an excellent springboard for the further artistic development of the orchestra, and for the continuation of its touring and recording activities. ‘Our next recording with Slobodeniouk for BIS Records is already scheduled for January 2016, so in this respect, too, the transition to the new era will be a smooth one’, says Kirjonen.

Petri Komulainen, chairman of the committee representing the players in the Lahti Symphony Orchestra, says that he is very proud and excited at the new appointment, and describes the orchestra as being on the threshold of a new era. ‘Many dreams that we regarded as Utopian have come true, and through hard work – and with the help of the Sibelius Hall’s outstanding acoustics – we have become a symphony orchestra of the highest calibre. At the same time, new and talented musicians have joined our ranks, bringing fresh ideas and rock-solid professional skills to the orchestra’, says Komulainen. ‘Our new Principal Conductor is exceptionally well suited to this situation. Slobodeniouk has close ties to Finland, combined with an international career that is very much on the up. I’m convinced that he will manage to bring a new, energetic perspective to the orchestra’s work, and that his performances will appeal to an ever wider audience.’

Jyrki Myllyvirta, Mayor of Lahti, remarks: ‘The appointment of Dima Slobodeniouk as Principal Conductor of the Lahti Symphony Orchestra signals a fascinating new era in the musical life of our city. In Slobodeniouk, who has for a long time been contributing to musical life in Finland, Okko Kamu has found a worthy successor as conductor of the orchestra which so vividly enhances the city’s attraction”.

Konzertdirektion Schmid: ‘Another important milestone in Slobodeniouk’s career’

On behalf of company president Cornelia Schmid, Karen McDonald, Head of Artist Management, congratulates Slobodeniouk on reaching another important milestone in his career. ‘We all congratulate Dima on his new position with Lahti Symphony Orchestra and the Sibelius Festival. Konzertdirektion Schmid has a long established friendship with many Finnish colleagues and Finland’s great musical institutions and we are delighted that we will continue to strengthen this through our collaboration with the Lahti Symphony Orchestra. We wish this partnership a future of great music-making and much success.’

Dima Slobodeniouk

In August 2015 Dima Slobodeniouk was announced as Principal Conductor of the Lahti Symphony Orchestra and Artistic Director of the Sibelius Festival, a position he takes up from 2016/17 season. Lauded for his deeply informed and intelligent artistic leadership Slobodeniouk is also Music Director of the Orquesta Sinfónica de Galicia since September 2013, a position he will combine with his new posts in Lahti. Combining his native Russian roots with his years of musical study in Finland Slobodeniouk draws on the powerful musical strengths of these countries.

Dima Slobodeniouk also maintains a strong presence on concert podiums internationally. The 2015/16 season will see him guest conduct Orchestre National de Lyon, Gothenburg Orchestra, Stuttgart Radio Orchestra, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic in Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw Hall, Lucerne Symphony, Iceland Symphony and as a regular guest he returns to Helsinki Philharmonic and Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra. He will work with Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Patricia Kopatchinskaja, Dmitry Sitkovetsky, Baiba Skride, Viktoria Mullova, Tine Thing Helseth, Anssi Karttunen, Ewa Podleś, Barbara Hannigan and Helena Juntunen.

With his passions for a broad scope of repertoire he conducts Beethoven, Verdi, Mahler, Sibelius, Stravinsky to the modern, including works of Jonathan Harvey, the Catalan composer Benet Casablancas, and Magnus Lindberg which will feature the Spanish premiere of his cello concerto. He explores two song cycles of Unsuk Chin (‘Les Silences des Sirenes’ and ‘SnagS and Snarls’). In spring 2016 the Orquesta Sinfónica de Galicia tours with Yefim Bronfman to Madrid and with Javier Perianes to Abu Dhabi.

Passionate about working with young musicians of the future Slobodeniouk worked with student musicians of the 2015 Verbier Festival, and he begins a conducting initiative with Orquesta Sinfónica de Galicia for a ten day period providing an opportunity for students to work on the podium with a professional orchestra.

This year saw the release of a CD of works of Lotta Wennäkoski with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra for the Ondine label. Maintaining an active collaboration with BIS Records the Finnish composer Sebastian Fagerlund is presented on the BIS label conducted by Slobodeniouk with Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra.

Slobodeniouk, Moscow-born, studied violin at the Central Music School under Zinaida Gilels and J. Chugajev continuing at the Conservatory’s Music Institute, Moscow in 1989 and at the Middle Finland’s Conservatory and the Sibelius Academy under Olga Parhomenko. In 1994, participated in the conductors class of Atso Almila. He continued his Sibelius Academy studies under the guidance of Leif Segerstam, Jorma Panula and Atso Almila. He has also studied under Ilya Musin and Esa-Pekka Salonen.