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Lahti Symphony Orchestra

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Lahti, Finland, the country's ninth largest city by population, boasts a world-renowned symphony, the Lahti Symphony Orchestra (Sinfonia Lahti). Beginning under the leadership of conductor Osmo Vänskä and through an attractive contract with BIS, the Lahti Symphony has won acclaim for its performances of music by Baltic composers Sibelius, Joonas Kokkonen, and Kalevi Aho, among others. In addition to its symphonic, operatic, and recorded performances, the Lahti Symphony presents a range of programming for children and youth, all of it created to foster musical development. In 2020, the orchestra issued recordings of music by Aho and Prokofiev under the direction of Dima Slobodeniouk. Founded in 1949 as a restructuring of the orchestra maintained by the Lahti Friends of Music since 1910, the Lahti Symphony Orchestra offers nearly 100 performances annually, some of them given in Helsinki. It regularly appears at Nordic music festivals such as the Helsinki Festival, the Stockholm New Music Festival, and the Helsinki Biennale, devoted to contemporary music. It has toured extensively, performing throughout Europe, the U.S., and Asia. At home, it performs at Sibelius Hall in Lahti, as well as the Church of the Cross, the venue for the orchestra's recordings. Osmo Vänskä served the symphony as guest conductor from 1985 to 1988 before he was appointed chief conductor in 1988. Vänskä held this post until 2008, gaining recognition as one of the world's leading orchestral directors. Under his leadership, the Lahti Symphony won several international recording awards. Three-time winner of Gramophone Magazine's top award, it was honored for its recordings of the original versions of Sibelius' violin concerto and Sibelius' Symphony No. 5 and En Saga, as well as the album Sibelius: Rondo of the Waves. The orchestra was bestowed the Grand Prix of the Académie Charles Cros in 1993 for its recording of the complete score to Sibelius' The Tempest. The orchestra has also earned the Cannes Classical Award on two occasions, a MIDEM Classical Award, and the Diapason d'Or de l'Année. When Sibelius Hall opened in 2000, the symphony initiated an annual Sibelius Festival. The complete orchestral works of Kokkonen and ongoing projects devoted to works by Uuno Klami and Einojuhani Rautavaara are other significant recording contributions by this remarkable symphony. Another important composer in the Lahti Symphony's repertoire is Kalevi Aho, who was named composer laureate in 2012 after serving as the orchestra's composer-in-residence from 1992 until 2011. Jukka-Pekka Saraste led the orchestra as artistic advisor from 2008 to 2011 after Vänskä became conductor laureate in 2008. The Lahti Symphony's next chief conductor was Okko Kamu, who served from 2011 until 2016 when Dima Slobodeniouk took up the post. In 2020, Slobodeniouk led the orchestra in recordings of Aho's Sieidi and Symphony No. 5, as well as Prokofiev's Suites from The Gambler and The Tale of the Stone Flower. That year, Anja Bihlmaier became the orchestra's first female principal guest conductor, and in 2021, the orchestra welcomed Dalia Stasevska as its first female chief conductor.
© Erik Eriksson & Keith Finke /TiVo
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