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Tuesday 4 Dec 2018

Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Philharmonia Orchestra announce 2020/21 as Salonen’s final season as Principal Conductor & Artistic Advisor

  • Esa-Pekka Salonen to step down after 13 remarkable years at the helm of the Philharmonia Orchestra


  • Salonen’s legacy will be far-reaching: award-winning flagship series, transformative digital installations and VR projects, and definitive recordings


  • The 2020/21 season will celebrate Salonen’s achievements with the Orchestra; details to be announced in February 2020


  • The Philharmonia begins a global search for its sixth Principal Conductor



The Philharmonia Orchestra and Esa-Pekka Salonen will mark the culmination of Salonen’s tenure as Principal Conductor & Artistic Advisor in the 2020/21 Season, celebrating an artistic partnership that has flourished both on-stage and digitally, contributing to the Philharmonia’s status as one of the most distinctive symphony orchestras in the world today.


Salonen will continue his relationship with the Philharmonia in a different guise from 2021/22, details of which are to be announced.


The Philharmonia Orchestra begins an international search for its next Principal Conductor, only the sixth in its 75-year history, following Otto Klemperer, Riccardo Muti, Giuseppe Sinopoli, Christoph von Dohnányi and Salonen. News on Esa-Pekka Salonen’s successor will be announced in due course.


Esa-Pekka Salonen said: “I have been unbelievably fortunate to conduct the great orchestras of the globe: a simultaneously inspiring and humbling part of my night job. Though since my debut 35 years ago – surprising no one more than me – and in my 10 years as Principal Conductor, I find myself returning again and again to the Philharmonia.


“This is a group that juxtaposes world-class talent and star-power with an ease of musical communication, personal warmth, real risk-taking on stage and off, and always good humour. The open-mindedness and confidence with which they supported me at my debut was a masterclass in how we should all treat each other musically and beyond. This and our on-going collaboration is in no small part why I became a conductor at all, and why I still enjoy the complex but ultimately very inspiring human interaction that we call conducting. I do not say lightly that they are family, and I am honoured to be a part of what will be their fantastic future.”


Double bassist and Chair of the Philharmonia Michael Fuller said: “Right from the first moment in 1983, the Philharmonia has had an extraordinary chemistry with Esa-Pekka and, to this day, making music with him is one of the great privileges of being a member of this Orchestra. The amazing concerts, projects and tours we have done during his time as Principal Conductor are high points in all our musical lives.


“Esa-Pekka is truly beloved by the Orchestra and we’re excited to continue our work together, which has already spanned more than 35 years. Our musical and personal connection has deepened over the years and I have no doubt that it will continue to grow. He will always be one of the very special members of the Philharmonia family. Here’s to you, ‘E-P’, looking forward to the next chapter together.”


Helen Sprott, Managing Director, said: “Esa-Pekka is loved and respected in equal measure by the everyone connected with the Philharmonia and we salute his decades-long commitment to the Orchestra.


“While Esa-Pekka’s tenure as Principal Conductor & Artistic Advisor is ending, the relationship between us will continue – we look forward to planning more ambitious programmes and projects with E-P, and to sustaining our unique artistic partnership long into the future.”


Esa-Pekka Salonen’s tenure with the Philharmonia Orchestra, which he first guest-conducted in 1983, has been marked by an extraordinary diverse range of achievements. His distinctive immersive events and series at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall include Vienna: City of Dreams (2009), Tristan und Isolde (2012), directed by Peter Sellars and with video art by Bill Viola, and the Stravinsky: Myths & Rituals series (2015), which won a Sky South Bank Award.


Salonen and the Philharmonia have together reached new audiences all over the world through unique and pioneering work with digital technology. Two giant audio-visual walk-through installation experiences, RE-RITE (2009, based on Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring) and Universe of Sound: The Planets (2012) have toured the world, while iPad app The Orchestra has sold tens of thousands of copies. More recently, the Philharmonia and Esa-Pekka Salonen have blazed a trail for classical music in the growing field of immersive technology, creating three Virtual Reality (VR) films since 2015: their most recent VR experience, VR Sound Stage, premiered at SXSW 2018 in in Austin, Texas before travelling to Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall to open the Orchestra’s 18/19 season.