The Finnish pianist Joonas Ahonen has received critical acclaim both as a performer of Ligeti’s music and as a Beethoven interpreter on historical pianos. A student of Tuija Hakkila and Liisa Pohjola at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, he early on developed a strong interest in contemporary music, and is since 2011 a member of renowned Austrian soloist ensemble Klangforum Wien. A dedicated chamber musician, Ahonen has performed West Cork Chamber Music Festival, Davos Festival and Pekka Kuusisto’s Our Festival. As a soloist Ahonen has appeared with orchestras and ensembles such as the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Tapiola Sinfonietta, Avanti! and Ictus. Recent highlights include appearances at the Wiener Konzerthaus, Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires and in the Elbphilharmonie concert series in Hamburg.
Albums featuring Ahonen have been published by Col Legno, Kairos, Neos and CD Accord labels. His 2015 Lutoslawski-A.Tchaikowsky recording ,,Dream Lake” with soprano Agata Zubel was nominated to the main Polish music awards Fryderyki. Ahonen’s first appearance on BIS Records, Ligeti Piano Concerto with BIT20 Ensemble conducted by Baldur Brönnimann, was released in December 2016.
Following his enormously successful London BBC Proms debut, the 2016/17 season sees Kuusisto perform with the Seattle Symphony, Mahler Chamber and Los Angeles Philharmonic orchestras and Junge Deutsche Philharmonie. An advocate of new music, Kuusisto gave the world premiere of Sebastian Fagerlund’s Violin Concerto, leading to a critically acclaimed release of the work with Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra (BIS) in 2015. He also collaborates frequently with composers such as Nico Muhly, Daníel Bjarnason and Thomas Adès, and premieres a new work by Anders Hillborg this season with the Swedish Chamber Orchestra.
Last season, he toured Europe with Minnesota Orchestra and Osmo Vänskä, including his Edinburgh International Festival debut, and returned to the Scottish Chamber, City of Birmingham Symphony and Toronto Symphony orchestras. Recent recital highlights include London’s Wigmore Hall, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw and Dortmund’s Konzerthaus, with upcoming performances at Mozarteum Salzburg, Carnegie Hall and Princeton University.
Joining together with performers across the artistic spectrum, Kuusisto works with electronic musician Brian Crabtree, jazz-trumpeter Arve Henriksen and Dutch neurologist Erik Scherder. Regular chamber partners include Anne Sofie von Otter, Simon Crawford-Phillips, Nicolas Altstaedt and Olli Mustonen.
Widely recognised for his flair in directing ensembles from the violin, this season Kuusisto becomes Artistic Partner with The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and continues as Artistic Director with ACO Collective. He also regularly directs The Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, Tapiola Sinfonietta and Britten Sinfonia.
Kuusisto received the Nordic Council Music Prize in 2013 and is Artistic Director of the award-winning ‘Our Festival’, based in Sibelius’ home town. His next CD release features him as both director and soloist for Sibelius’ Violin Concerto with the Tapiola Sinfonietta.
Pekka Kuusisto plays a fine Stradivari violin kindly loaned to him through the Beares International Violin Society.