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Musical World

Ismo Eskelinen

  • Guitarist
  • Teacher


In 2007 Ismo Eskelinen premiered the first work for guitar by Aulis Sallinen. Many leading composers (among them Peteris Vasks, Leo Brouwer, Jouni Kaipainen, Helmut Lachenmann and Luca Francesconi) have praised him for the intensive interpretations of their works. His appearances have taken Eskelinen to many major concert venues, such as the Berlin Philharmonic, the Royal Festival Hall in London, the Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels, Finlandia Hall in Helsinki and the Sibelius Hall in Lahti. He has performed extensively in Scandinavia, Central and Southern Europe, the Baltic countries and the United States, with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Tapiola Sinfonietta, the Lahti Symphony, the Tampere Philharmonic, the Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra, the Basel Philharmonic, the Walloninan Chamber Orchestra (Brussels), the Stringendo chamber orchestra (Paris), the Katovice Philharmonic, the Chamber Orchestra of Lapland, the Virtuosi di Kuhmo, Avanti! Chamber Orchestra and many others and with conductors such as Sakari Oramo, John Storgårds, Juha Kangas, Hannu Lintu, Ernest Martínez-Izquierdo and Olli Mustonen.

In 2003 he gave the first performance in Finland of the guitar concerto by Tan Dun with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, and in spring 2005 performed the world premiere of the concerto composed for him by Jukka Tiensuu with the same orchestra. Eskelinen is a familiar guest at many music festivals in Finland (the Helsinki Festival, Savonlinna Opera Festival, Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival, Naantali and Turku Music Festivals) and abroad. In 1999 he was a young artist of the year at Mikkeli Music Festival directed by Valery Gergiev. In summer 2006 he was the first ever guitarist to be invited to the Moritzburg Music Festival. Among his partners in chamber music have been violinists Pekka Kuusisto, Baiba Skride and John Storgårds, the New Helsinki, Sibelius Academy and Meta4 quartets, singers Petteri Salomaa, Pia Freund and Helena Juntunen, cellists Jan Vogler, Marko Ylönen and Jan-Erik Gustafsson, and accordionist-bandoneonist Mika Väyrynen. During the 2003/04 season he appeared weekly in a popular current events programme in Finland.

He also plays Piazzolla with La Camorra and gypsy music with the Zingara quartet. Discs by Ismo Eskelinen have won worldwide acclaim. His first solo album “Magic Circle” (2000) is of works by de Falla, José, Mompou and Rodrigo. In 2003 he released a CD of music by Manuel Ponce with John Storgårds and The Chamber orchestra of Lappland and in 2005 a CD of compositions by Pärt, Vasks, Takemitsu and others with the Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra. Ismo Eskelinen studied with Oscar Ghiglia at the Basel Music Academy, where he obtained a soloist diploma, and at the Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Siena, where he was awarded a Diploma di Merito. Before going abroad he studied at the Sibelius Academy as a pupil of Timo Korhonen. He has also been tutored in chamber music by Ralf Gothóni. Ismo Eskelinen is Artistic Director of the Sonkajärvi Soi music festival and teaches the guitar at the Turku Music Academy and Conservatoire and at the Sibelius Academy. He plays a Brian Cohen guitar of 1997.