John Storgårds

Chief conductor of the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and principal guest conductor of the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa, John Storgårds has a dual career as a conductor and violin virtuoso and is widely recognized for his creative flair for programming, as well as his rousing yet refined performances. As artistic director of the Lapland Chamber Orchestra, a title he has held for more than 25 years, Storgårds has earned global critical acclaim for the ensemble’s adventurous performances and award-winning recordings.

Internationally, Storgårds appears with such orchestras as the Berlin Philharmonic, Leipzig Gewandhaus, Munich Philharmonic, Orchestre National de France, Vienna Radio Symphony, Berlin Radio Symphony, Netherlands Philharmonic, BBC Symphony and the London Philharmonic, as well as all of the major Scandinavian orchestras, including the Helsinki Philharmonic, where he was chief conductor from 2008 to 2015. Further afield, he is a regular guest in Sydney and Melbourne and in Tokyo with the NHK Symphony.

Storgårds made his North American debut with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra during the 2005-06 season. Since then, he has appeared with the New York Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony in Boston and at Tanglewood, the Cleveland Orchestra at the Blossom Music Festival, the Chicago Symphony and with the Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Detroit, Toronto, National, Atlanta, Montreal, Vancouver, Cincinnati, Dallas and Houston symphonies.

Storgårds’ large repertoire includes not only all the symphonies by Sibelius, Nielsen, Bruckner, Brahms, Beethoven, Mozart, Schubert and Schumann, but many works by today’s leading composers, including world premieres by Kaija Saariaho, Brett Dean, Per Norgard and Peteris Vasks, several of whom have dedicated their works to him. He gave the Finnish premieres of Schumann’s only opera Genoveva and the early Zwickau symphony, plus world premieres of Sibelius’ Suite, Op. 117, for violin and strings and the Late Fragments. As a violinist, he gave the Finnish premiere of Schumann’s own violin transcription of the cello concerto, as well as the Violin Sonata No 3. In the opera pit, he recently conducted the world premiere production of Sebastian Fagerlund’s Höstsonaten (Autumn Sonata) at the Finnish National Opera with Anne Sofie von Otter in the leading role. The opera was a finalist at the 2018 International Opera Awards and was revived in autumn 2019.

Following his much anticipated debut with the Berlin Philharmonic performing Bruckner’s Sixth Symphony earlier this year, the start of Storgårds’ 2022-23 season features the world premiere production of Tapio Tuomela’s new opera The Fur Hat Opera, which Storgårds performed in Lapland with the Lapland Chamber Orchestra as well as at the Finnish National Opera in Helsinki. Later in the season, he returned to the Finnish National Opera to conduct Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk. With the BBC Philharmonic, he appears once again at the BBC Proms performing Shostakovich Symphony No. 15. Further highlights included his debut with the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony and returned to the Bamberg Symphony, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic and the Helsinki Philharmonic.

Highlights of his 22-23 season in North America included return appearances with the National Symphony at the Kennedy Center, as well as with the St. Louis, Toronto, Montreal and Atlanta symphonies and the National Arts Centre Orchestra. During summer 2022, Storgårds made his postponed Aspen debut and returned to the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, where he performed chamber music by Shostakovich, Bach and Schoenberg.

Storgårds’ award-winning discography includes not only recordings of works by Schumann, Mozart, Beethoven and Haydn, but also rarities by Holmboe and Vasks, which feature him as violin soloist. Cycles of the complete symphonies of Sibelius (2014) and Nielsen (2015) with the BBC Philharmonic were released to critical acclaim by Chandos. November 2019 saw the release of the third and final volume of works by the American avant-garde composer Goerge Antheil, again with the BBC Philharmonic. Their latest Chandos project, recording the late Shostakovich symphonies, began in April 2020 with the release of Symphony No. 11. Storgårds and the Lapland Chamber Orchestra have released numerous critically acclaimed recordings on Bis Records, including Mahler’s Symphony No. 10 in a special arrangement for small orchestra by Michelle Castelletti, as well as discs of works by Norgard, Korngold, Aho and Rautavaara, which received a Grammy nomination and a Gramophone Award.

Storgårds studied violin with Chaim Taub and subsequently became the concertmaster of the Swedish Radio Orchestra under Esa-Pekka Salonen before studying conducting with Jorma Panula and Eri Klas at the famed Sibelius Academy. He received the Finnish State Prize for Music in 2002 and the Pro Finlandia Prize in 2012.

February 2023

Please note: Biographies are based on information provided to the CSO by the artists or their representatives. More current information may be available on websites of the artists or their management.