Olari Elts

Chief Conductor and Artistic Director

Chief Conductor and Artistic Director from 2020
Principal Guest Conductor 2007–2020

Olari Elts’s had first concert with ENSO, City Life, in 1998. The programme included the works of John Adams, Steve Reich ja Eino Tamberg. 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; twice at the Finlandia-talo in Helsinki; and most recently at the Eufonie International Festival of Central and Eastern Europe in Warsaw.

Olari Elts’ passion for distinctive programming rich with invention has earned him much praise on the international music scene. He began his tenure as Music Director and Chief Conductor of the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra in 2020. He was also Artistic Advisor of the Kymi Sinfonietta from 2018 to 2022.

Olari Elts has appeared as a guest conductor with renowned orchestras such as Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Danish National Symphony, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Orchestre National de France, Orchestre National de Lyon, Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg, Budapest Festival Orchestra, Orchestre symphonique de Québec, Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra, Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra and Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. Soloists with whom he collaborates include Gautier and Renaud Capuçon, Brett Dean, Isabelle Faust, Alban Gerhardt, Martin Grubinger, Martin Helmchen, Stephen Hough, Lucas & Arthur Jussen, Kari Kriikku, Karita Mattila, Alexander Melnikov, Daniel Lozakovich, Baiba Skride, Simon Trpčeski, and Antoine Tamestit.

In the 2023/2024 season, Elts leads the BBC Symphony Orchestra on tour to Poland, returning to Eufonie Festival for the second time. Returns this season include engagements with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Tampere Philharmonic and the Polish Baltic Philharmonic in Gdańsk, where he is joined by pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet. He also looks forward to debuts with the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra, Orquesta de València, the Aalborg and Wuppertal Symphony orchestras and the Presidential Symphony Orchestra in Ankara. Following recent successful international tours with the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra in the UK, Germany and France, this season’s opening concert in Tallinn signifies Elts’ contract extension as the orchestra’s Chief Conductor and Music Director for a further five years.

As a champion of contemporary Baltic composers such as Erkki-Sven Tüür and Heino Eller, Elts has released recordings of Heino Eller’s Symphonic Poems, as well as Eller’s violin concerto with Baiba Skride and the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra. Also widely celebrated by critics are his Ondine recordings of Erkki-Sven Tüür works with Tapiola Sinfonietta, including the viola concerto with Lawrence Power, Tüür’s Symphony No. 5, and the accordion concerto Prophecy with the Helsinki Philharmonic. His 2016 recording of Brahms’ arrangements (Glanert, Berio) with the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra also received high praise. Elts’ discography includes the Borgström and Shostakovich violin concertos with Eldbjørg Hemsing and the Wiener Symphoniker and recent releases with music by Kalevi Aho, recorded with the Antwerp Symphony Orchestra and the Kymi Sinfonietta, under the BIS label. His latest recording project is a new album with music by award-winning Norwegian composer Øyvind Torvund in collaboration with the Olso Philharmonic Orchestra.

Elts also made his mark in the opera field, having conducted titles such as Eugene Onegin, Mozart’s Don Giovanni and Idomeneo and Berlioz’s La Damnation du Faust. Crossing genres, Elts toured to the Konzerthaus Berlin with the theatre-concert production which combined Mendelssohn and Shakespeare’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream” with the Tallinn-based theatre company NO99. For Bernstein’s 100th anniversary, Elts conducted the film “On the Waterfront” with Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg.

Elts was Principal Guest Conductor of the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra from 2007-2020 and held the same position at Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra from 2011-2014. He was Artistic Advisor of the Orchestre de Bretagne from 2006-2011, Principal Guest Conductor of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra from 2007-2010 and Chief Conductor of the Latvian National Symphony Orchestra from 2001-2006. Born in Tallinn in 1971, Elts is founder of his contemporary music ensemble, NYYD Ensemble.

More information: www.olarielts.com

CDs of Olari Elts & ENSO
Erkki-Sven Tüür. Oxymoron. ECM 2007.
Heino Eller. Soloist Baiba Skride. Ondine 2018.
Heino Eller. Ondine 2019.