Estonian National Symphony Orchestra has announced the name of their new Music Director and Chief Conductor

04. December 2019.

Today, it was announced at the press conference of the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra (ENSO) that Olari Elts would become ENSO’s Music Director and Chief Conductor from the 2020/2021 season, for an initial period of three seasons. His first concert with ENSO took place in 1998 and he has been the Principal Guest Conductor of ENSO since 2007.

Speaking about the appointment, Olari Elts said, ‘The Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, being my “home orchestra”, always holds a special place in my heart. As its Principal Guest Conductor in the last 12 years, I have been inspired by the passionate music-making of our orchestra and I am thrilled and honoured to be taking our collaboration to another level! In these turbulent times, classical music is our universal lighthouse and we need it more than ever. I look forward to the new adventure with this wonderful orchestra with all the exciting projects ahead.’

Olari Elts is a conductor with a wide international reach, whose passion for putting together and conducting unique and exciting concert programmes has earned him worldwide recognition. He frequently performs with renowned orchestras around the world, such as Finnish Radio Symphony, Danish National Symphony, BBC Symphony, Seattle Symphony, and Yomiuri Nippon Symphony. In addition to the core Classical and Romantic repertoire, Elts is also a champion of contemporary repertoire, especially those written by his Estonian compatriots, including Erkki-Sven Tüür, Eduard Tubin, Tõnu Kõrvits, and Helena Tulve.

Olari Elts performed his first concert with ENSO more than 20 years ago.  Cooperation with ENSO became closer in 2007, when Elts became ENSO’s Principal Guest Conductor. Olari Elts has brought with him a wide repertoire and conducted numerous performances of large-scale works with ENSO, such as the concert performance of Mozart’s opera Idomeneo, Berlioz’s The Damnation of Faust, Messiaen’s Turangalîla-Symphonie, etc., and, of course, Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which was performed in collaboration with Theatre NO99 and Eesti Kontsert. He has also brought to audiences several exciting cross-genre concerts, combining classical music with electronics and various visual effects and animations.

In addition to numerous concerts in Estonia, Olari Elts has performed several concerts abroad with ENSO: at the Il Settembre dell’Accademia festival in Verona, Italy, at a concert dedicated to the 90th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia at Stockholm’s Berwaldhallen; at the Turin Cathedral, Italy; as part of the Cultural Programme of the XX Winter Olympics, during which Arvo Pärt’s La Sindone was premiered; and twice at the Finlandia-talo in Helsinki.

The current Chief Conductor Neeme Järvi will continue to work with ENSO as Honorary Conductor For Life from next season onwards. ‘I trust that creativity, positivity, openness, and excellent instrumental skills will continue to be the characteristics of ENSO. It is an exciting time and I hope that we will continue to share powerful musical experiences in Estonia and around the world. I send the ENSO and Olari Elts my best wishes,’ said Neeme Järvi.


About Olari Elts

Olari Elts (b. 27. April 1971) is ENSO’s Principal Guest Conductor and the Artistic Advisor of the Kymi Sinfonietta. From 2001–2006, he was the Chief Conductor of the Latvian National Symphony Orchestra, from 2006–2012, the Artistic Advisor of the Brittany Symphony Orchestra, from 2007–2010, the Principal Guest Conductor of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, and from 2011–2014, of the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra. In 1993, he founded the NYYD Ensemble. In 2017, Olari Elts was given the Annual Award of the Cultural Endowment of Estonia for his brilliant and impressive performances on both domestic and foreign stages and for the promotion of Estonian music.


About The Estonian National Symphony Orchestra

The Estonian National Symphony Orchestra (Eesti Riiklik Sümfooniaorkester) has become the most prominent Estonian orchestral ambassador abroad. It was created in 1926 as a small radio orchestra, but since then, it has increased its international scope, particularly in recent decades. Since 2010, its Principal Conductor and Artistic Director has been Neeme Järvi, who was the orchestra’s Principal Conductor also from 1963 until 1979. The Principal Guest Conductor is Olari Elts and the Artistic Adviser of the orchestra is Paavo Järvi.

The orchestra has dazzled the world with numerous tours and participated in reputable international music festivals. They have played in prestigious venues such as the Konzerthaus Berlin, Musikverein in Vienna, Rudolfinum in Prague, Brucknerhaus in Linz, the Avery Fisher Hall (current David Geffen Hall) in New York, the Grand Hall of Saint Petersburg Philharmonia and the Concert Hall of the Mariinsky Theatre, the Kölner Philharmonie, Festspielhaus in Bregenz, Helsinki Music Centre, the Berwaldhallen in Stockholm, and many more – including, of course, their home venue, the Estonia Concert Hall in Tallinn. Performances were also given at the Hong Kong Arts Festival, the Sibelius Festival in Lahti, and the Baltic Symphony Festival in Riga. In 2019, ENSO and Neeme Järvi opened the highly acclaimed Festival de Radio France et Montpellier.

In addition to their praiseworthy live performances, the high quality of the musical recordings of the orchestra has been recognised by several renowned music magazines and the recordings have won several prizes, including a Grammy Award (conductor Paavo Järvi). The orchestra has enjoyed fruitful cooperation with highly acclaimed record companies such as Chandos, BIS, and Onyx, and in the past also with Alba Records, Harmonia Mundi, and Melodiya. In addition to local radio and television channels, ENSO’s concerts have been broadcasted by Mezzo and They have also reached many radio listeners in Europe via the EBU.

Commanding a repertoire that ranges from the Baroque period to the present time, the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra has had the honour to premiere symphonic pieces by almost every Estonian composer, including Arvo Pärt, Erkki-Sven Tüür, Tõnu Kõrvits, and Eduard Tubin.