Rehearsing Mendelssohn with the Sibelius competition winner Christel Lee

Pori Sinfonietta holds a very special place in my heart, because it was with this orchestra that I conducted my graduation concert when I finished my studies with Leif Segerstam at the Sibelius Academy (this was after my studies in St. Petersburg). I had already conducted several Russian orchestras, but my first full classical concert with a Finnish professional orchestra was in Pori back in 2007. Then my soloist was the up and coming clarinet virtuoso Olli Leppäniemi.

I did not return to conduct in Pori for over nine years, but when I returned it felt all worth the wait. My soloist this time was the recent Sibelius Violin Competition winner Christel Lee, whom I had met once before, when she played in the festival orchestra at the Great Mountains Music Festival in Korea in 2014. This competition being very popular in Finland, the ticket sales took off right away. When it was showtime we heard that some extra chairs were carried in, but still some people had to be turned away from the door!

Sold out hall. A job well done.

Christel played the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in the first half, and the second half was Beethoven's 3rd symphony "Eroica". This symphony is very close to my heart and I have performed it several times before - really a cornerstone of the western musical heritage. That night I was also very proud of the Pori Sinfonietta musicians for all their hard work through the rehearsals, because at the concert we really took off with this piece. I could not have wished for more for my comeback to Pori. Let's hope I'll be back sooner than in 9 years this time!