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It is again time to look back at the previous year and remember all the exciting travels, concerts, cooperations and friendships that happened in 2016. I actually noticed that last year I forgot to write the summary of my concert activities in 2015, which is a pity since that was the year when I made my comeback to St. Petersburg and when I also conducted my Mariinsky Theatre debut which meant a lot to me personally. But that was the year when I was in general very lazy in updating my blog. Apologies, as usual.

My 2016 started like so many years before, with my traditional winter masterclass in Mikkeli. This time the improvement was that we got to conduct two masterclass concerts, one in a small town nearby, and one in Mikkeli in the big hall. I also made my conducting students try ice swimming in the pond next to the hall. A truly Finnish experience! This year I held two more masterclasses, a summer masterclass in Mikkeli and another in Pärnu.

I conducted some debuts with new orchestras, in Ankara, Turkey, and in Busan, South Korea, and returned to Pori Sinfonietta after a ten year break (and broke their audience record at the same time!). I invited some excellent soloists to my orchestra St. Michel Strings to celebrate my last season with them, and we joined forces with orchestras in Lappeenranta and Kuopio to present symphonic music to our Mikkeli audience.

One really great experience worth mentioning was conducting ballet for the first time in my life. A big thanks goes to my former teacher Peter Gribanov for inviting me to substitute for him for a week with the St. Petersburg Tchaikovsky Ballet. The other highlight of the year was returning to the Mariinsky Theatre less than a year after my debut.

The year was not without its shadows and one of the bigger ones was parting ways with St. Michel Strings. I truly enjoyed working in Mikkeli for the past four years, and our list of accomplishments is impressive. We attracted more local audience and made everyone in Finland aware of our existence. We traveled twice to Asia together. We started regular concert webcasts. We started new cooperation projects with conservatories and other orchestras both in Finland and abroad. The profile of our soloists was truly international, including such stars as Jian Wang and Clara-Jumi Kang, and we also regularly cooperated with singers and instrumentalists from the Mariinsky Theatre. For four years in a row we were guest performers at the Gergiev Festival Mikkeli (and coincidentally, the orchestra is not featured in the festival program in 2017). But as things went, not everyone agreed with my vision for the orchestra or the ways of realising it, and in those cases one way forward is to change the captain of the ship.

The second half of my year 2016 was spent as a free lancer, and without the administrational, marketing and personnel matters occupying my mind I have again used more time looking into my own methods of working and into the way I see the conducting profession in general. Maybe this thought process will lead into something concrete in 2017. A book, perhaps?