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Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra elects Nicholas Collon as its next Chief Conductor

Nicholas Collon, kapellimestari
Nicholas Collon, kapellimestari Picture by: Jim Hinson nicholas collon

The Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra has elected Britain’s Nicholas Collon as its next Chief Conductor. He will take over in autumn 2021, on the completion of present Chief Conductor Hannu Lintu’s agreed term.

“I could not be more delighted to be joining the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra for this next chapter of the orchestra’s life. I first conducted the FRSO in 2017 and was blown away by its technical brilliance, astonishing precision, passion, and musical depth. The sincerity of its approach to all styles and periods of music is truly thrilling to witness. I look forward to sharing in the FRSO’s amazing musical culture, from the music of Sibelius and his modern Finnish counterparts, to the musicians’ astonishing professionalism, skill and thirst for experimentation when tackling all shapes and sizes of challenging repertoire. Together, I hope we can build on this enviable position, and continue to expand the orchestra’s horizons, lighting a beacon for what a 21st century symphony orchestra can and should be.”

Nicholas Collon is Founder and Principal Conductor of the ground-breaking Aurora Orchestra, Chief Conductor and Artistic Advisor of the Residentie Orkest in The Hague, and Principal Guest Conductor of the Guerzenich Orchester in Cologne. He remains Chief Conductor and Artistic Advisor at the Residentie Orkest in The Hague until his current contract expires at the end of July 2021, seeing the orchestra into its newly-built concert hall in the centre of the city. In addition to his regular posts, he is frequently invited to conduct orchestras such as the London Philharmonia, the DSO Berlin, the Ensemble Intercontemporain and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. He received his formal education at Eton and Clare College, Cambridge.

His interpretations of an extensive repertoire ranging from the Baroque to the present day have been described as high-calibre and as having a strong awareness of tradition. “In this sense he will be continuing the legacy of our FRSO Chief Conductors in a way that is natural,” says FRSO General Manager Tuula Sarotie. “A celebrated international conductor is, furthermore, a major new trump card in the promotion of Finnish music.” All in all, the FRSO has become increasingly cosmopolitan in recent years; its musicians represent twelve nationalities and the working language has long been English.

The Chief Conductor of the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra is chosen by the orchestra’s musicians. Nicholas Collon already made a great impression on them on his first visit in March 2017, and their choice was unanimous. “The atmosphere was exceptionally inspired the moment rehearsals began, and the concert was one of the great highlights of recent years,” Tuula Sarotie recalls.

“Collon is an expert conductor with an ability to help the musicians arrive at outstanding achievements. His music-making is natural and spontaneous, born of the present moment and inspiring. We’ve been following his programme planning and projects with the Aurora Orchestra with interest,” reports the orchestra’s spokeswoman, violinist Maria Puusaari.

Under Collon’s artistic direction, the Aurora Orchestra has forged an enviable reputation in the UK and increasingly abroad. As Resident Orchestra at Kings Place, they are midway through a 5-year cycle of the complete Mozart Piano Concertos, and as Associate Orchestra at the Southbank Centre they are reinventing the concert format with their ‘Orchestral Theatre’ Series. They have appeared at the BBC Proms every year since 2010, often performing entire symphonies from memory, and have also become regular visitors to leading European venues such as the Amsterdam Concertgebouw and Cologne Philharmonie.

The FRSO’s mission to develop and promote Finnish musical culture will thus continue under the new British Chief Conductor.

“Collon will be taking a very close look at Finnish musical life in the next few years and making a strong input of his own. He already has a long, passionate relationship with the works of Jean Sibelius,” says Tuula Sarotie.

Nicholas Collon will be conducting the FRSO at the Helsinki Music Centre on May 17, in a programme consisting of Julian Anderson’s Fantasias, Hector Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique, and Maurice Ravel’s piano concerto (sol. Fazil Say). Next season he will be guest conducting the FRSO in February 2020, when the programme will include Thomas Adès’s violin concerto with Pekka Kuusisto as the soloist and the Symphonic Dances by Kalevi Aho.