Ollikainen Assumes Chief Conductor and Artistic Director Post in 2020/21 Season
Reykjavík, Iceland June 13, 2019: The Iceland Symphony Orchestra announced today the appointment of Finnish conductor Eva Ollikainen as Chief Conductor and Artistic Director with an initial four-year contract beginning with the 2020/21 season.
The Iceland Symphony Orchestra is the national orchestra of Iceland and resident at Harpa concert hall, the landmark building on Reykjavík’s waterfront area.
During her tenure as Chief Conductor and Artistic Director, in 2020/21 Eva Ollikainen will conduct a minimum of eight weeks during the regular concert season. In addition, the orchestra is planning international touring with Ms. Ollikainen during her contract period. Before her inaugural season, Ollikainen takes to the stage in March 2020 for the Iceland Symphony Orchestra’s 70th anniversary concert featuring works by Mahler and Sibelius.
“I have always felt a deep bond with the musicians of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra. Not only are they virtuosos on the highest international level, but their way of understanding and communicating music is unique,” remarked Eva Ollikainen. “I very much look forward to our collaboration exploring new and old repertoire together, and the musical encounters with our fantastic audience. I want to continue the great work of the orchestra in the diversity of its programming and explore these possibilities further, including diversity of background and gender. I am also looking forward to working alongside the inspiring and professional management team. They especially impressed me by their great energy and determination to become an even better institution.”
Lára Sóley Jóhannsdóttir, Managing Director of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, said: “We are absolutely delighted that Eva Ollikainen will be joining us as Chief Conductor and Artistic Director. Her appointment marks a new chapter for the orchestra – a start of an incredibly exciting time of great opportunities. In her previous work with the orchestra, she has gained a strong connection with our musicians and audiences through her commitment, vibrant energy and enthusiasm. She understands how important the orchestra is to our society - and how that connection can be developed even further. But most importantly Eva shares our vision for the future. She has all the qualities needed to raise the artistic level of the orchestra. We cannot wait to welcome Eva to our team.”
In the 2018/19 season Eva Ollikainen made her debut with the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra conducting Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony; in Italy with Orchestra della Toscana, and finally at the Royal Danish Opera with Puccini’s Turandot. She also returned to the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, continued her Beethoven symphony cycle with the Jönköping Sinfonietta, and conducted the ballets Nutcracker and Swan Lake for the Semperoper. As principal conductor of the Nordic Chamber Orchestra, for the 2018/19 season Eva Ollikainen paired German classical and Romantic repertoire with Baltic Sea composers such as Jean Sibelius, Galina Ustvolskaya and Peteris Vasks.
Eva Ollikainen decided to pursue a career in conducting as a young student at the Sibelius Academy, where she studied with Leif Segerstam and Jorma Panula and also trained as a pianist. At the age of 21 she won the international Jorma Panula Conducting Competition and subsequently worked with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Kurt Masur as well as the Philharmonia Orchestra and Christoph von Dohnányi as part of the Conducting Academy of the Allianz Cultural Foundation. Also important was the instruction she received from Bernard Haitink and Herbert Blomstedt as a Conducting Fellow of the Tanglewood Music Center.
She has subsequently developed a comprehensive repertoire with a focus on the great German symphonies, and continues to work with leading international orchestras including the Staatskapelle Dresden, Wiener Symphoniker, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, Helsinki Philharmonic, Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, Brussels Philharmonic and the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra.