The New York Philharmonic has named composer-conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen The Marie-Josée Kravis Composer-in-Residence, beginning in the 2015–16 season through 2017–18, a three-year appointment. During his first season the Orchestra will perform three of Mr. Salonen’s works, including World and New York Premieres, and he will conduct concerts during the Philharmonic’s Messiaen Week, as well as advise on new-music programming.
Esa-Pekka Salonen is currently principal conductor and artistic advisor of the Philharmonia Orchestra in London and conductor laureate of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, where he was music director from 1992 until 2009. In the 2014–15 season he became the first-ever creative chair at Zurich’s Tonhalle Orchestra, which has commissioned a new piece for orchestra and chorus from him, and which will perform nine of his other works during the season. Trained in the austere world of European modernism but also enjoying a close relationship with the sunny city of Los Angeles, Mr. Salonen composes works that move freely between contemporary idioms, combining intricacy and technical virtuosity with playful rhythmic and melodic innovations. He has written several works for symphony orchestra, including Foreign Bodies (2001), Insomnia (2002), and Wing on Wing (which received its World Premiere at Walt Disney Concert Hall in 2004). Mr. Salonen’s extensive recording career includes a disc of his orchestral works performed by the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, on which he also conducted; his Piano Concerto (co-commissioned by the New York Philharmonic) and Dichotomie, both performed by Yefim Bronfman, and Helix; and Out of Nowhere, featuring Nyx and Mr. Salonen’s Violin Concerto, which won the prestigious Grawemeyer Award, performed by Leila Josefowicz and the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra. During the 2014–15 season Mr. Salonen makes conducting appearances with the Bavarian Radio, Finnish Radio, and Chicago symphony orchestras; Los Angeles and Royal Stockholm Philharmonic orchestras; and Orchestre de Paris and Philharmonia Orchestra, among others. Throughout their relationship, Mr. Salonen and London’s Philharmonia Orchestra have curated landmark multidisciplinary projects, such as the award-winning Re-Rite and Universe of Sound installations, which allow the public to conduct, play, and step inside the orchestra with Mr. Salonen through audio and video projections of musicians in performance. He also drove the development of The Orchestra, a much hailed app for iPad that allows the user unprecedented access to eight symphonic works.
The Philharmonic’s relationship with Esa-Pekka Salonen began with his conducting debut in 1986 leading the U.S. Premiere of Castiglioni’s Sinfonia con giardino in addition to works by Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev, and Nielsen. Since his 2007 appearance leading the Orchestra in the World Premiere of his own Piano Concerto — co-commissioned by the Philharmonic and featuring Yefim Bronfman, for whom it was written — he has led the Orchestra in 30 performances, including the 2011 three-week Hungarian Echoes festival, the New York Concert Premiere of his Violin Concerto (2013, with Leila Josefowicz), and his most recent appearance in October 2014 conducting works by Beethoven and Stravinsky. Mr. Salonen has already been involved in the Philharmonic’s new-music projects, having hosted An Evening with Esa-Pekka Salonen, the 2013 CONTACT! concert in which Philharmonic musicians performed several of his chamber works. In the 2014–15 season Alan Gilbert conducts Mr. Salonen’s Nyx, the first time that a conductor other than Mr. Salonen will lead one of his works with the Philharmonic.
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