The violinist, conductor and composer Pekka Kuusisto is a musical crossover artist between classical music, folk, jazz and electro – which is why he has even provided his violin with a heavy metal piece. In addition, the charismatic Finn, who the [Telegraph] described as having “the most personal sound of any contemporary classical violinist”, is an enthusiastic champion of contemporary music: “It’s not a misfortune if the composer is not dead yet”.
Pekka Kuusisto was born in Espoo in 1976 into a musical family: his grandfather was a composer, his father, a classical music-loving jazz musician, composed operas, and his mother worked as a music teacher. At the age of three, he began to improvise on the violin – an art he still practises today and in which there are many aspects “that are extremely useful for us as classically trained musicians. With Bach, you feel in every note that he was a gifted improviser”. From 1985, Kuusisto studied at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki and then transferred to the Indiana University School of Music. The versatile musician has also devoted himself to the fringes of the concert scene, and not just since his graduation: “The more I deal with completely different genres, the deeper I can dive into classical music in turn”. He also works with contemporary composers such as Bryce Dessner, Daníel Bjarnason and Thomas Adès and writes music himself – for example, for a television production of the animated series [Moomins]. Pekka Kuusisto is artistic director of the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra and principal guest conductor and artistic co-director of the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra (from 2023/24). He is artistic partner of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, collaborative partner of the San Francisco Symphony, and artistic best friend of the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen. In the 2021/22 season he was featured artist of the Philharmonia Orchestra, with whom he performed as violinist and conductor.