The Philharmonia Orchestra has appointed two internationally acclaimed conductors, Jakub Hrůša and Santtu-Matias Rouvali, as Principal Guest Conductors. With these appointments, under the leadership of Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor Esa-Pekka Salonen, the Orchestra broadens its artistic team. The post of Principal Guest Conductor was last held by Sir Charles Mackerras, until his death in 2010.

Hrůša and Rouvali take up their roles at the beginning of the 2017/18 Season. Both artists will conduct several concerts a year – and contribute to the programming for the Orchestra’s major series – in the Philharmonia’s London Season at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall, as well as in concerts across the Orchestra’s UK programme and internationally.

Jakub Hrůša (35), hailed in a recent Arts Desk profile as “a leading light among the younger generation of conductors”, has been a regular guest conductor with the Orchestra since his debut in 2011. With a wide-ranging repertoire, the music of Central Europe has been a strong feature of his programmes, including a revelatory performance of Suk’s Asrael Symphony in 2014. Jakub Hrůša said:

“The Philharmonia Orchestra is one of my absolutely favourite musical ensembles worldwide. Every single concert we have experienced together since my debut in 2011 has been special in all aspects – the programming, the atmosphere and, most of all, the quality of the music-making. I feel truly honoured that I can become a member of this remarkable artistic institution under the inspiring leadership of Esa-Pekka Salonen. To become Principal Guest Conductor and to be in regular touch with the Philharmonia Orchestra’s musicians, and the whole team around, as well as with its public, is definitely one of my dreams come true.”

Santtu-Matias Rouvali (31) has conducted the Philharmonia in concerts across its UK residencies. In his debut with the Philharmonia at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall in January 2016, Rouvali conducted the Second Symphony of his Finnish compatriot, Sibelius, alongside Rolf Martinsson’s Trumpet Concerto, with Håkan Hardenberger as soloist. “He is the real thing: music unmistakably flows from him,” wrote The Sunday Times.  

Santtu-Matias Rouvali said: “The Philharmonia is a perfectly-shaped orchestra. Its players can pick up any music, are always prepared and technically very skilful. There are so few orchestras around the world who can get close to that. Now I can conduct them: what more could I wish for? To be in London with Esa-Pekka Salonen as Principal Conductor is something I can’t wait for. He is a very rich-minded artist, with lots of ideas, and I want to be a part of that. I am looking forward to many future adventures with the Philharmonia.”

Esa-Pekka Salonen, Principal Conductor & Artistic Advisor of the Philharmonia Orchestra, said: "I’m extremely proud to ‘share' the Philharmonia with Jakub and Santtu-Matias. To have two young guys in top form leading and developing the orchestra with me is an ideal situation; the conductor as a solitary leader and final artistic word has never appealed to me. The Philharmonia has a spectacular present and an even more exciting future, and I’m thrilled to have consistent artistic leadership in place.”

Helen Sprott, Managing Director of the Philharmonia Orchestra, commented: “This is a special moment for the Philharmonia. Following Esa-Pekka Salonen’s contract extension as Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor, we are delighted to be announcing two of the brightest talents on the international scene – Jakub and Santtu-Matias – as Principal Guest Conductors, and thus completing a formidable artistic team at the Philharmonia. Exciting times lie ahead.”

Philharmonia Chair and 2nd Horn Kira Doherty said: “Jakub and Santtu-Matias are two of the most dynamic conductors to stand on the podium in front of the Philharmonia Orchestra in recent years. Both are musicians of outstanding integrity and character, and each will bring their unique perspective to programming and performances. We cannot wait to start working with them in their new roles.”

Jakub Hrůša and Santtu-Matias Rouvali both conduct the Philharmonia at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall in April 2017. On Thursday 6 April, Hrůša conducts Dvořák Symphony No. 8 and the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with Sergey Khachatryan.

Rouvali conducts a sold-out Sunday matinee on Sunday 23 April at 3pm. Following a pre-concert talk in which he speaks to the Philharmonia’s Principal Trumpet, Alistair Mackie, Rouvali conducts The Planets and Elgar’s Cello Concerto, with Alban Gerhardt as soloist.

Looking ahead to 2017/18, Rouvali conducts Ravel’s arrangement of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition on 5 October. Hrůša conducts a work close to his heart: the complete version of Smetana’s Má vlast in Leicester (7 October) and London (8 October), alongside Dvořák’s Violin Concerto in A minor with soloist Hilary Hahn.


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The Philharmonia Orchestra is one of the world’s great orchestras. Widely acknowledged for its pioneering approach to the role of an orchestra in the 21st century, the Philharmonia leads the field for the quality of its playing and its innovative work with residencies, music education, audience development and the use of new technology to reach 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 is at the heart of British musical life.

The Philharmonia performs more than 160 concerts a year, as well as recording music for films, video games and commercial audio releases. The Orchestra’s home is Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall in the heart of London, where the Philharmonia has been resident since 1995 and performs 40 concerts a year. Under Esa-Pekka Salonen a series of flagship, visionary projects at Royal Festival Hall – distinctive for both their artistic scope and supporting live and digital content – have been critically acclaimed. Projects including City of Light: Paris 1900-1950 (2015), City of Dreams: Vienna 1900 -1935 (2009), Bill Viola’s Tristan und Isolde (2010) and Infernal Dance: Inside the World of Béla Bartók (2011) were followed in 2016 by the major, five-concert series Stravinsky: Myths & Rituals.

The Orchestra is committed to presenting the same world-class, live music-making in venues throughout the country as it does in London, especially at its UK residencies, where up to seven concerts each season are complemented by a wide-ranging education and audience development programme. The Orchestra’s UK residencies are at Bedford’s Corn Exchange (since 1995), De Montfort Hall in Leicester (since 1997), the Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury, Three Choirs Festival and The Anvil in Basingstoke, where it has been Orchestra in Partnership since 2001.

A busy international touring schedule takes the Orchestra all over the world. Projects in 2016/17 have included a major West Coast US tour (October 2016) and a tour to Japan and Taiwan (spring 2017), both with Esa-Pekka Salonen. Recent highlights include the 2016 Festival International d'Art Lyrique d'Aix-en-Provence, where the Orchestra and Esa-Pekka Salonen were in residence, performing two Stravinsky programmes and Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande, directed by Katie Mitchell.

Central to the Philharmonia and Esa-Pekka Salonen’s work in London, the UK and internationally are their digital projects, all of which are designed to communicate the thrill of the experience of a live orchestra to audiences outside the concert hall. In September 2016, in partnership with Southbank Centre, the Orchestra presented The Virtual Orchestra, a free two-week series in the public spaces of Royal Festival Hall, culminating with a specially programmed concert at the venue. The project featured 360 Experience, the first major Virtual Reality presentation from a UK symphony orchestra, and giant audio-visual installation, Universe of Sound: The Planets, first premiered at the Science Museum in spring 2012.

Both Universe of Sound and its predecessor RE-RITE (2010, based on Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring) toured internationally and were at the heart of a major two-year audience development and education initiative, iOrchestra (2014-15), which took place in South-West England and engaged over 120,000 people. The project also featured a pop-up interactive digital music installation, MusicLab, which used the latest technologies to create a series of hands-on musical games and interactions. The Orchestra has won four Royal Philharmonic Society awards for its digital project and audience engagement work.

Jakub Hrůša

Born in the Czech Republic and described by Gramophone as “on the verge of greatness”, Jakub Hrůša is Chief Conductor of Bamberg Symphony, Permanent Guest Conductor of the Czech Philharmonic, Principal Guest Conductor of Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra (TMSO), and served as Music Director and Chief Conductor of PKF–Prague Philharmonia from 2009 to 2015. 

He is a regular guest with many of the world’s greatest orchestras. Recent highlights have included Bohemian Legends and The Mighty Five – two major series specially devised for the Philharmonia Orchestra; a two-week focus on Martinů and Roussel for Orchestra Philharmonique de Radio France; and performances with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, The Cleveland Orchestra, Vienna Symphony, DSO Berlin, The Philadelphia Orchestra, and Los Angeles Philharmonic. Last season, he made his débuts with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and Filarmonica della Scala. 

The 16/17 season sees him make major debuts with the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, Chicago Symphony and the Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra.

As a conductor of opera, he has been a regular guest with Glyndebourne Festival, conducting The Cunning Little Vixen, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Carmen, The Turn of the Screw, Don Giovanni and La bohème, and serving as Music Director of Glyndebourne On Tour for three years. Elsewhere he has led productions for Vienna State Opera (a new production of The Makropulos Case), Opéra National de Paris (Rusalka), Frankfurt Opera (Il trittico), Finnish National Opera (Jenůfa), Royal Danish Opera (Boris Godunov), and Prague National Theatre (The Cunning Little Vixen and Rusalka).

As a recording artist, he has released six discs for Supraphon including a live recording of Smetana’s Má vlast from the Prague Spring Festival. He has made live recordings of Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique, Strauss’s Eine Alpensinfonie and Suk’s Asrael Symphony with TMSO for Octavia Records; and other recordings include the Tchaikovsky and Bruch violin concertos with Nicola Benedetti and the Czech Philharmonic (Universal), and a series of three discs with PKF-Prague Philharmonia for Pentatone, including orchestral works by Dvořák, and cello concertos with Johannes Moser. He will also embark on a new partnership in the coming seasons with Tudor and Bamberg Symphony. His latest disc, Smetana’s Má vlast with Bamberg Symphony, is released in autumn 2016, coinciding with the start of his tenure as Chief Conductor.

Jakub Hrůša studied conducting at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, where he now lives with his wife and two children. He is currently President of the International Martinů Circle. In 2015 he was the inaugural recipient of the Sir Charles Mackerras Prize.


Santtu-Matias Rouvali

Hailed by the Guardian as “the latest sit-up-and-listen talent to emerge from the great Finnish conducting tradition”, Santtu-Matias Rouvali is Chief Conductor of the Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra. He takes up the position of Chief Conductor of the Gothenburg Symphony from the 2017/18 season.

In his final season as Principal Guest Conductor of the Copenhagen Philharmonic he also makes returns to the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France where he conducts each season, the Bergen Philharmonic, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin and Bamberger Symphoniker. As Gothenburg’s Chief Conductor designate he conducts two programmes with soloists Marc-André Hamelin and Truls Mørk alongside Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra and Janáček’s Taras Bulba.

In October he made his debut with the Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne undertaking a European tour, and returns to Japan in May 2018 with his own orchestra, the Tampere Philharmonic, having already visited Japan twice previously to conduct the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra. In North America this season he made two hugely successful debuts with Cincinnati Symphony and Minnesota orchestras and returned to the Los Angeles Philharmonic.  This summer he makes his debut at the Verbier Festival, with soloist Martin Fröst and, following successful concerts with the MDR Sinfonieorchester Leipzig, he makes his debut with the Gewandhausorchester in November.

With future recordings planned in Gothenburg, Rouvali’s latest disc, of Nielsen and Sibelius’ Violin Concertos with Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra and Baiba Skride, was released in summer 2015 on ORFEO. 

As Chief Conductor in Tampere he has conducted Verdi’s La forza del destino with Tampere Opera and his next project with them, in spring 2018, is a world premiere of Olli Kortekangas’ My Brother’s Keeper (Veljeni vartija) with Tampere Opera.

Rouvali studied at the Sibelius Academy before making his debut with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra which led to rapid engagements throughout the Nordic region and beyond.