Finnish orchestral conductor and violinist
Okko Kamu, ".... a conductor of great energy and insight" (Rad Bennet: ClassicsToday), enjoys a reputation for spontaneity tempered by sensitivity and disciplined feeling. He ended an incredibly successful period as chief conductor of the world famous Lahti Symphony Orchestra in his native Finland in June '16 having finished recording a complete Sibelius cycle for BIS which followed an earlier one he shared with Herbert von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmoniker for Deutsche Grammophon. He remains Principal Guest Conductor of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra with many previous titles. He came to prominence in 1969 by winning the first Karajan International Conducting Competition in Berlin, an achievement which led to engagements in Europe and the USA and the first recordings he made with the Berlin Philharmoniker. Okko Kamu’s guest appearances read as a roll call of major orchestras and opera houses around the world. Amongst the opera houses are New York’s Metropolitan, Royal Opera at Covent Garden, The Bolshoi and Kirov in Russia plus Zürich and Göteborg. Today he conducts in the world’s musical centres, although unusually amongst conductors he also insists on having a life outside music making which has led to him appearing regularly in interesting places which feed his inner spirit. Okko Kamu was born into a musical family in Helsinki. His father played double bass in the Helsinki Philharmonic and he began playing the violin at the age of two with his first teacher, Väinö Arjava, who led his father’s orchestra, before he continued lessons with Onni Suhonen at the Sibelius Academy where he also studied the piano. Later he became leader of the Suhonen Quartet and, at the age of 20, concertmaster of Finnish National Opera Orchestra before becoming a staff conductor there. He has recorded more than 100 CDs for labels like Finlandia and Musica Sveciae, amongst others, and his recordings of Berwald’s four symphonies and piano concerto for Naxos have both received the distinguished and rare “Diapason d'Or” award.Recorded repertoire of music outside the mainstream has included Aulis Sallinen’s “Complete Music for String Orchestra” and flute concertos by Penderecki, Takemitsu and Sallinen alongside more central music of the classical and romantic eras.
“Under Kamu's seemingly effortless command, the SCO thundered into life, giving us a sense of how shockingly new it must have sounded to puzzled audiences when [Brahms] the 26year old composer’s D minor giant was first unleashed in 1859, and gleaming, at least from my seat in the Usher Hall, like an especially translucent Berlin Philharmonic.” David Nice – The Arts Desk, 14th November ‘14
Okko Kamu has been a member of the Swedish Royal Music Academy since 1994.