An extremely sensitive player with a seemingly flawless command of his instrument, Kriikku is undoubtedly one of the world's foremost clarinetists. His recordings of the concertos of Carl Maria von Weber and Bernhard Crusell have received worldwide acclaim (the Weber CD was voted "best ever" recording by Classic CD and BBC Music Magazine). In 2006, his recording of Magnus Lindberg's clarinet concerto won both BBC Music Magazine's award and the Gramophone Award.
Kari Kriikku is a founding member of the Avanti! chamber orchestra and has served as the ensemble's artistic director since 1998.
He was the 2009 winner of the Nordic Council Music Prize: the prize committee wrote, “Kari Kriikku is an extraordinary virtuoso on his instrument the clarinet. His performance is characterised by flexibility and a positive musician’s joy - he is a musician in the best sense of the word.”