September 2013: Salonen Contract Extension

Esa-Pekka Salonen: Contract extension marks 30th anniversary with Philharmonia Orchestra

Esa-Pekka Salonen – Celebrating 30 years conducting the Philharmonia Orchestra

In this film, Philharmonia members past and present tell the story of how a last-minute decision by the Orchestra's management 30 years ago ignited what would go on to be a long-lasting relationship between Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Philharmonia, firstly as Principal Guest Conductor, and, since 2008, as Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor.

The Philharmonia Orchestra has announced at its 2013/14 London season opening concert (26 September) that Esa-Pekka Salonen is extending his contract as Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor until the end of the 2016/17 season. The announcement comes three days before Salonen and the Orchestra celebrate the 30th Anniversary of their first performance together.

On 29 September 1983 an almost-unknown 25 year old composer/conductor was engaged by the Philharmonia Orchestra at extremely short notice to lead a performance of Mahler’s 3rd Symphony, standing in for an indisposed Michael Tilson Thomas. The concert, his first outside Scandinavia, became one of the sensations in the Philharmonia’s history. His impact on the Orchestra and audience was such that a permanent position was offered within a year. His tenure as Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor began in 2008.

His achievements with the Philharmonia in that time include more than 350 concerts, four world premieres (Corigliano The Red Violin; Lindberg Chorale for Orchestra and Parada for Orchestra; Colin Matthews Horn Concerto), 27 recordings, the Orchestra’s first live webcast, the world’s first immersive digital classical music installation (RE-RITE, and its sequel Universe of Sound, both award winners), and an award winning app, The Orchestra. The exact date of the 30th Anniversary will be marked on Sunday 29 September with a celebratory performance at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall as part of the Orchestra’s season opening series across the UK and Europe, also part of a major Berlioz project planned to extend over three years.

In these three decades, classical music has been transformed though the advent of technology and changing tastes, and Salonen and the Philharmonia have shared a commitment to leading the way. How classical music differs now from classical music then (statistics comparing Philharmonia Orchestra seasons in 1983/4 and 2013/14):


Ticket prices£3 - £25£9 - £48

Royal Festival Hall concerts5237

Nationalities (orchestral players)613

Nationalities (conductors/soloists)922

Recordings (records, films, games, etc)1424

UK Regional Concerts4977

Concerts with film09

Approaches to coughing
1983: (Note found in programme): COUGHING During tests in the Hall, a note played mezzo-forte on the horn measured approximately 65 decibels of sound. A single uncovered cough has the same reading. A handkerchief placed over the mouth when coughing assists in obtaining a pianissimo.
2013: Tannoy notice (the voice of Sir Ian McKellen): “We ask you please to keep coughing to a minimum”

Esa-Pekka Salonen: “It is surprising and rather wonderful to realise that I’ve known these musicians for a full 30 years now. I strongly believe in long-term musical partnerships and relationships, and perhaps what I enjoy most about performing with the Philharmonia musicians is the constant sense of discovery; their energy, skill, musicality and commitment is a source of profound musical satisfaction in my life. I’m very much looking forward to the next 30 years.”

Simon Oliver, Chairman and Double Bass: “Salonen’s magnetism in concerts is obvious to audiences and to us in the orchestra. His commitment both to us and the music throughout those concerts and in rehearsals is absolutely extraordinary. He’s on our side, he helps us play. With him, we’re all working in the same direction.”

David Whelton, Managing Director of the Philharmonia Orchestra: “The best results occur when a long relationship is built; something true of all fields, and perhaps truer in the arts than any. But truly special relationships are rare, and tend to be borne out of extraordinary circumstances. Few moments of ignition are as intense as Esa-Pekka Salonen’s with the Philharmonia, and this is perhaps why this relationship has burned bright. It is a case study in how the very best results can be achieved through mutual respect, and we can’t wait to see what emerges from our partnership over the next four years.”


For further information on the data or to arrange an interview please contact:
Alice Walton | +44 (0) 20 7921 3931 | +44 (0) 7931 845493 | [email protected]

For full details of the 2013/14 concert schedule visit


About the Philharmonia Orchestra

The Philharmonia Orchestra is one of the world’s great orchestras. Acknowledged as the UK’s foremost musical pioneer, with an extraordinary recording legacy, the Philharmonia leads the field for its quality of playing, and for its innovative approach to audience development, residencies, music education and the use of new technologies in reaching a global audience. Together with its relationships with the world’s most sought-after artists, most importantly its Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor Esa-Pekka Salonen, the Philharmonia Orchestra is at the heart of British musical life.

Today, the Philharmonia has the greatest claim of any orchestra to be the UK’s National Orchestra. It is committed to presenting the same quality, live music-making in venues throughout the country as it brings to London and the great concert halls of the world. In 2013/14 the Orchestra is performing more than 150 concerts, as well as presenting live digital events and recording scores for films, CDs and computer games.

Esa-Pekka Salonen

Composer and conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen has been Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor of the Philharmonia Orchestra since September 2008, continuing a relationship that dates back almost 25 years. His tenure has been dominated by landmark multi-disciplinary festivals, exploring the music of key 20th-century composers and musical movements in their widest possible cultural, social and historical context. Salonen’s dedication to technology, digital platforms and outreach has been realised through his work with the Philharmonia Orchestra on a number of innovative projects, including RE-RITE and Universe of Sound: The Planets.

Universe of Sound: The Planets, the follow-up audio-visual installation to RE-RITE: Be The Orchestra, also led by Esa-Pekka Salonen, premièred at the Science Museum from May to August 2012, and will tour to Birmingham and Canterbury from April to June 2013.

The Orchestra App for iPad

Music Sales, Touch Press, Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Philharmonia Orchestra have joined forces to create The Orchestra - a ground breaking iPad App giving unprecedented interactive exploration of orchestral music and instruments. Released for sale on ITunes on 6 December, this extraordinary app presents eight specially filmed performances featuring extended extracts from:

Haydn: Symphony No. 6, Beethoven: Symphony No. 5, Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique
Debussy: Prélude à l'après midi d'un faune, Mahler: Symphony No 6, Stravinsky: The Firebird
Lutoslawski: Concerto for Orchestra, Salonen: Violin Concerto, soloist Leila Josefowicz

The app is designed for iPad 2, 3, 4 and iPad mini and is available worldwide for $13.99/£9.99 from the App Store or at: