Conducting the HMO. Photo by Jorma Airola.

It's again time to look back at the highlights (and other stuff) of the year in music 2017. Despite of being a free lancer again, I was reasonably busy with my usual masterclass and guest conducting activities, and I also started some very interesting projects I might have not started if I'd had a regular music directorship somewhere.

I started the year like so many times before, with my traditional winter masterclass in Mikkeli. I did not know that this would be actually my last masterclass in Mikkeli, so now I am looking for new orchestras to cooperate with. I had four talented ladies and one young man studying with me, and we played two concerts. In the summer I taught another masterclass in Pärnu like so many times before, and luckily this tradition is going to continue with the next masterclass planned for July, 2018.

In January I also returned to conduct the Finnish Guards Band, and this was my third concert with them. I have mentioned the two earlier concerts before here and here. My soloist for the Stravinsky concerto was the brilliant Martin Malmgren with whom I also have worked before.

I also returned to the Krasnoyarsk Symphony Orchestra (also for the third time) and worked with the young pianist Alexandr Malofeyev. And when I returned to Krasnoyarsk for the fourth time in September it was time for the big news - I became their Principal Guest Conductor!

In the autumn I also returned to conduct the Pärnu City Orchestra twice, and in December I did my yearly visit to conduct the Mariinsky Orchestra in a big Finnish program.

Opera has been my big love ever since I started studying in St. Petersburg and going regularly to the Mariinsky Theatre, and I was very happy to take part in a production of Evgeny Onegin in Helsinki. This was a very special project since we had practically no money for it, but managed to do it nevertheless and even got great reviews! And after the summer we had two more performances of the opera (with piano accompaniment this time), and we have further plans with this group as well.

My debuts this year were ERSO (The Estonian National Orchestra), the Sofia Philharmonic (the best concert of the year in my opinion!), Kirkkonummi Chamber Orchestra and the State Orchestra of Northern Ossetia-Alania in Vladikavkaz.

I should maybe count in as a debut also my summer project by the name of SMO. This was one of the best things to come out of this year of free lancing, since it lead to the founding of a brand new community orchestra in the Helsinki area, the Helsinki Metropolitan Orchestra. This is a very promising group and we have already many interesting plans with it for this year. It's to me a great honour to carry the title of Artistic Director of the Helsinki Metropolitan Orchestra from now on.