Philharmonia Orchestra announces new principal conductor

London’s Philharmonia Orchestra, a resident ensemble at the Southbank Centre, has announced Santtu-Matias Rouvali as its next principal conductor. Succeeding his fellow countryman Esa-Pekka Salonen, the Finnish conductor will take up the chief conductor role from the 2021-22 season, becoming the sixth person to hold the title in the orchestra’s 75-year history – while also being one of the youngest to do so at 33.

Rouvali first debuted with the Philharmonia in 2013, before being appointed principal guest conductor in September 2017.

During his tenure, Rouvali will continue his position as chief conductor of Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, where it has just been announced his contract has been extended until 2025. Rouvali has worked with Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, Bamberger Symphoniker and Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin.

During his five-year contract, Rouvali will lead the Philharmonia’s London season as resident orchestra at Southbank Centre, while also conducting the Philharmonia across its UK residencies programme and international tours.

In a press statement, Rouvali said: “This is the start of a great adventure: London is such an exciting place for orchestras, and the Philharmonia is at the heart of the classical music life in this city. They players of the Philharmonia can do anything: they are enormously talented and show an incredible hunger to create great performances. There is huge possibility with this orchestra, and we will do great things together.”

Salonen will take up the title of conductor emeritus from 2021-22 and has been voted by players in the orchestra to become an honorary member after his 13 years at the Philharmonia. Salonen said, “The Philharmonia is a special orchestra: one comprised of world-class musicians who have the flexibility of technique and spirit to play anything, anywhere. We have shared many powerful experiences together at the Royal Festival Hall and around the world.”

Gillian Moore, director of music at Southbank Centre said, “Santtu-Matias Rouvali has an electrifying energy on the concert podium which transmits to the orchestra and to the audience, making us all experience the music anew and afresh. He is an engaging personality and a committed communicator, and I know will fit well with the Southbank Centre landscape.”