Pekka Kuusisto and the Luomuplayers performing in the Faces etnomusic festival in summer 2005.
October 7, 1976|
|Relatives||Taneli Kuusisto, composer (grandfather)|
Kuusisto comes from a musical lineage. His grandfather was a composer and organist, his father is a jazz musician who has composed operas, and his mother is a music teacher. He began studying the violin at the age of three. His first violin teacher was Geza Szilvay at the East Helsinki Music Institute. In 1983 he enrolled in the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, and he began to study with Tuomas Haapanen there in 1985. From 1992 to 1996 he studied with Miriam Fried and Paul Biss at the Indiana University School of Music.
In 1995, Kuusisto became the first Finn to win the International Jean Sibelius Violin Competition and was also awarded a special prize for the best performance of the Sibelius violin concerto. He has won other prizes, concertised widely, and recorded works for the Ondine label. Kuusisto plays a Giovanni Battista Guadagnini violin (1752) lent by the Finnish Cultural Foundation.
Kuusisto works with musicians of many different backgrounds. He regularly performs with electronics, giving concerts consisting of mostly improvised material. During the past few years, he has frequently performed a solo recital program consisting of the Partita in D minor by Johann Sebastian Bach and electronic improvisations on funeral chorales. The traditional music of Finland serves as a source of inspiration for Kuusisto, and his approach to the violin has changed substantially since he became more involved with folk music and its performers. He has been a guest performer with groups such as Nightwish, Rinneradio, Don Johnson Big Band, The National and Salsa Dura.
Kuusisto also writes music, but mostly for small ensembles where he is one of the performers. With accordionist Johanna Juhola, he wrote half of the album Max Höjd and half of the music for Auf Wiedersehen Finnland, a documentary film by Virpi Suutari about World War II events in Finnish Lapland. He composed the music for the album Kiestinki, with lyrics by Paula Vesala. Kuusisto has written music for a collaboration between himself, his brother Jaakko Kuusisto and the vocal ensemble Rajaton, themed on climate change. He has also arranged Sibelius's string quartet Voces intimae for chamber orchestra.
In classical circles, Kuusisto is internationally renowned both as soloist and director and is recognised for his fresh approach to the repertoire. A strong advocate of new music, he regularly collaborates with contemporary composers and in the 2012-13 season gave the world premiere of Sebastian Fagerlund's Violin Concerto, written for him and commissioned by the Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra. Other recent highlights have included concerts with the Finnish Radio Symphony, Oslo Philharmonic, Swedish Chamber, Toronto Symphony and Washington’s National Symphony orchestras, as well as the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Die Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen and Konzerthausorchester Berlin.
In 2013-14, Kuusisto joined frequent collaborators Britten Sinfonia in performances of four Britten works as part of the composer’s centenary celebrations, with choreography by the Richard Alston Dance Company. He also returned to the Cincinnati Symphony, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, Singapore Symphony, City of Birmingham Symphony and Philharmonia orchestras.
Kuusisto seeks to engage with people across the artistic spectrum, working on new interpretations of existing repertoire alongside original works. He regularly directs ensembles from the violin, including the Australian, London, Irish, Mahler and Saint Paul chamber orchestras, as well as the Amsterdam Sinfonietta. Recent recital partners include Iiro Rantala, Anne Sofie von Otter, Angela Hewitt, Kimmo Pohjonen and Nicolas Altstaedt. He gave the world premiere of Olli Mustonen's Sonata for Violin and Piano with the composer at the Wigmore Hall in spring 2013, and later the same year toured Europe with his traditional music group, The Luomu Players.
'Our Festival', of which Kuusisto is Artistic Director, provides another opportunity for him to bring a number of art forms together in a single performance. Based in Sibelius’s home town, Järvenpää, it was selected as Festival of the Year by Finland Festivals in 2011. In 2013, Kuusisto gave the world premiere of an electronic work inspired by Magnus Lindberg’s Violin Concerto, which he co-wrote with Tuomas Norvio. He also gave duo performances with juggler Jay Gilligan, joined the vocal group Rajaton and performed with Finnish schlager legend Paula Koivuniemi.
Kuusisto has enjoyed a number of prestigious residencies, including at the Aldeburgh Festival, the Concertgebouw’s Robeco Zomerconcerten, and as a ‘Junge Wilde’ artist at the Konzerthaus Dortmund. He oversaw the programming for the 2011 Avanti! Summer Sounds Festival and continues to work regularly with Tapiola Sinfonietta, where he was formerly Artistic Partner (2006-2013).
In 2013, he recorded Lindberg’s Violin Concerto with the Tapiola Sinfonietta for the Ondine label.
- Sibelius: Violin concerto (Ondine 1996) Pekka Kuusisto, violin & Helsingin kaupunginorkesteri
- String attached (Ondine 1997). Pekka Kuusisto, violin & Raija Kerppo, piano.
- Vivaldi: The four seasons (Ondine 1999). Pekka Kuusisto, violin & Kuhmon virtuoosit.
- Folk trip (Ondine 2002). Pekka Kuusisto, violin & The Luomu Players.
- Mozart: Violin concertos 3, 4, 5 (Ondine 2003). Pekka Kuusisto, violin & Tapiola Sinfonietta (conductor Olli Mustonen).
- Sibelius, Musical soirée at Ainola (Ondine 2004). Pekka Kuusisto, violin & Heini Kärkkäinen, piano.
- Sibelius: Works for violin and orchestra (Ondine 2006). Pekka Kuusisto, violin & Tapiola Sinfonietta.
- Subterráneo (Liverace 2009). Pekka Kuusisto, violin & Iiro Rantala, piano.
- Paganini duos (Ondine 2009). Pekka Kuusisto, violin & Ismo Eskelinen, kitara.
- Kiestinki (Warner Music Nordic 2011). Pekka Kuusisto, violin & Paula Vesala
- Rautavaara: Works for violin and piano (Ondine 2011). Pekka Kuusisto, violin & Paavali Jumppanen, piano.
- Lindberg: Violin Concerto; Jubilees; Souvenirs. (Ondine 2013) Pekka Kuusisto, violin & Tapiola Sinfonietta
- Fagerlund: Darkness in Light (Bis 2015). Pekka Kuusisto, violin & Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra
- Anna King Murdoch, "An aural homecoming", The Age, 14 March 2009, A2, p. 16
- "Pekka Kuusisto, violin". Ondine. Retrieved 26 October 2016.
- "Pekka Kuusisto, Beyond the Stage". Seattle Symphony. Retrieved 26 October 2016.
- Weaver, James (2015). "Now trending globally: Finnish metal music". finland.fi. Retrieved 26 October 2016.
Finnish metal bands aren’t afraid to mix far-flung influences. Here violinist Pekka Kuusisto and Uilleann piper Troy Donockley are jamming with Nightwish.
- "Biography". Rinneradio. Retrieved 26 October 2016.
...Regular RinneRadio guest, violin player Pekka Kuusisto...
- "Haastattelu: Don Johnson Big Band – melkein oikea big band". Dome (in Finnish). Retrieved 26 October 2016.
- Discography All music Guide