Within the space of just six years, the Finnish musician Sakari Oramo has established a worldwide reputation as one of the most exciting conductors on the international concert platform.
Originally trained as a violinist, Oramo spent his late teens and early twenties with the prestigious Avanti! Chamber Orchestra, with thoughts of a conducting career far from his mind. Even while enrolled in Jorma Panula's conducting class at the Sibelius Academy (1989-92), he kept his violin firmly under his chin as concertmaster of the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra.
His initiation, in 1993, into the world of professional conducting was dramatic. He was called upon to take over a concert with the Finnish Radio Symphony at only a few hours' notice when the conductor fell ill. His performance was a triumph - winning acclaim from orchestra, public and critics alike - and led to his swift appointment as Co-Principal Conductor of the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra. From the 2003/4 season he will become their Chief Conductor, a post that will run concurrently with his Music Director position at the CBSO.
Since his conducting début with the Finnish Radio Symphony, Oramo has conducted regularly in Finland and throughout Scandinavia with orchestras including the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic (of which he became the artistic director in 2008), Oslo Philharmonic, Danish Radio Symphony and Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestras. More recently he made débuts with NDR Hamburg, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Minnesota Orchestra, NHK Symphony Orchestra, Hessischer Rundfunk and Orchestre de Paris, shortly to be followed by the Leipzig Gewandhaus and the Berlin Philharmonic.
Oramo made his début with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in May 1995 and was swiftly invited to become its Principal Conductor and Artistic Adviser from the beginning of the 1998/1999 season. In August 1999, coinciding with his critically acclaimed Proms début, Oramo's contract with the CBSO was extended and his title changed to that of Music Director.
The repertoire Oramo programmes reflects a broad range - from French baroque to the avant-garde, with a particular interest in early twentieth century British music. His facility for tackling the most complex of modern scores is well-known; he feels it is particularly important to reveal to a broader public contemporary music that might otherwise be too closely locked into its own small circle.
Oramo also believes in the importance of leaving time in his diary for continued study. Nor has he shut his violin case forever! He has enjoyed a long musical collaboration with his wife, the soprano Anu Komsi; they were only the second duo in the world to perform György Kurtag's Kafka Fragments for Violin and Soprano, which they have also recorded.