Okko Kamu

Fin­nish or­ches­tral con­duc­tor and vi­o­lin­ist

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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.

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