Sakari Markus Oramo OBE is a Finnish conductor. Oramo was born in Helsinki, and started his career as a violinist and concertmaster of the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra. In 1989, he enrolled in Jorma Panula's conducting class at the Sibelius Academy. In 1993, just one year after completing the course, he stood in for a sick conductor with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra. This success led to his appointment as Co-Principal Conductor. Oramo has also worked with Finland's Avanti! ensemble. From 2003 to 2012, Oramo was sole Principal Conductor of the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra. Oramo became principal guest conductor of the Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra in 1995, and one of its principal conductors in 2009. In 2013, he is scheduled to become the orchestra's artistic director. In September 1996, Oramo was named Principal Conductor of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, having conducted the CBSO in two concerts prior to that appointment. He then assumed the post as Music Director and Artistic Advisor in 1998. His work in Birmingham included the Floof! festival of contemporary music.
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Hello I'm hosting this chat at the end of a day's rehearsal for the Last Night of the Proms concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London this Saturday 13 September. Ask me your questions and I'll join the chat from 6pm BST (1pm EST). Details of the Last Night of the Proms concert are here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/proms/whats-on/2014/september-13/15146
Thank you for all your questions - the chat is now over! Get more on the Proms at http://bbc.co.uk/proms
Hi Sakari! I'm a regular contributor over at /r/classicalmusic, and I've been to 5 proms this season - contemplating heavily at the moment about coming to Beethoven 9 tomorrow and then your 'small gig' on Saturday! I'll probably come back for more questions, but for starters:
1) How did you get into conducting? (& what did you do beforehand?) I'm a student, but not one of music - I've tried doing a few auditions at university, but to no avail - any tips?
2) Who's your favourite underrated composer, and their best work?
3) In a similar vein, most overrated composer?
That's all for now - best of luck on Saturday, I'm really looking forward to it, I hope your speech is well planned!
EDIT: 4) How do you think the HIP scene has changed the way pieces are performed by those who don't fully subscribe to the practice? I mean - would anyone nowadays dare to play the Eroica like this?
1) I came to conducting via my violin playing, and I got to conduct quite early on, 12, for my first public conducting gig on Finnish television, wearing dark blue rubber boots.
You have to be a really ready musician, a master of an instrument first. Studying conducting is necessary, but to be successful you need a lot of musical knowledge and experience already in my view.
Is there equality at the top of classical music? ...do you think there should be more women on the podiums of the great concert halls? (and if so, how do we get there?)
I would certainly love to see more female colleagues. There are some who are doing really well and are extremely successful but I'd love to see more. Although I'm not into choosing the music I conduct by the gender of the composer, I would love to hear more music by female composers played.
What are your favorite and least favorite instruments and why?
My favourite has to be the violin because it is my own instrument. Least favourite... probably - and I'm really sad to say this! - probably the metal plate - the percussion instrument.
What do you think are the unique aspects of the Proms in general and the Last Night in particular?
The atmosphere of the Royal Albert Hall; the fact that the Prommers are so near to the stage; and the fact that despite it being such a big festival, music always comes first.
What do you do to warm up for a concert?
Obviously you can't play like an instrumentalist. Is it a case of waving in front of a mirror?
Also, any pre-concert rituals?
Waving in front of a mirror is something you do when you study, but not when you are professional. The best warm-up is to quietly think the music through in your mind, without waving anything! Warming up muscles is important. Stretching, that's the thing.
I can't really say I have a ritual - just dressing for it etc... more a routine than a ritual. I think the concert itself is a ritual!
what's your favourite snack?
I think I would say it's the peach - I love peaches.
What's most important to being a good conductor?
What would you say are your favorite/least pieces to perform, aside from the ones you'll be doing this year?
You have to be a complete musician, you have to know how to treat people well, and you have to have really good nerves.
What is a tune that you have constantly stuck in your head? Mine is one I played in high school called The Great Locomotive Race. It's just such a fun tune.
There are many pieces of music that get stuck and I can't get rid of. Land of Hope and Glory is one of them!
Hi, I have a couple of questions!
First, what is your favorite piece of music?
Second, where is your favorite place to conduct?
This is really difficult... I would have to say Sibelius Symphony No. 5 is my favourite piece of music.
Favourite place to conduct has to be Musikverein in Vienna. It's an incredible old hall from the 1850s - the wood is alive with everything that's been played in there.
Are there any composers whose music you feel is over-performed? Under-performed?
Underperformed there are lots of composers - if I name one I'd have to name a thousand! Szymanowski is one example.
If I disclose my most overperformed I think everybody would kill me!
What's the No.1 tip you can give to improve people's concert going experience for those that haven't been to a classical concert before?
I think the best tip is to open all your senses and just let the music come in. You don't need knowledge to appreciate music, but it does help - so reading a bit about the music beforehand helps.
What about the viola?
The viola holds a very dear spot in my heart. I play it myself sometimes.
What is a typical non-performance day like for you?
Very good. I like to spend time outdoors - depending on the season either walking, cycling, gardening or skiing.
Do you think there's any real benefit to conducting scores from memory? Is that something you like to do sometimes, or do you think it doesn't matter that much either way?
I like conducting from memory but only pieces that I feel completely confident about doing so. I don't think you can hear in a performance whether a conductor conducts from memory. Having memorised the score, you feel freer - there is one less element between myself and the musicians.
...and just how nervous are you about giving the speech, on a scale of 1-10 ? ;-)
Many people make a great fuss about the speech, but believe me there is much more to the Last Night that is more stressful! Of course speaking in a foreign language is always a bit of a stress factor.
Hello! I am in high school, and I really want to be able to play in an orchestra part/full time in the future. So I was wondering what are the requirements/standards of playing in an orchestra are? All I know is that we have to audition, so can you give any tips for impressing the judges in an audition?
Also, what concert do you wish you could conduct(but haven't yet)?
It depends on the orchestra, but nowadays most orchestral jobs are highly competitive.
To impress judges, play extremely well, in tune, in rhythm, show that you know the music.
Hello, Mr. Oramo! I have a few questions.
1) Mahler's Symphony No. 7
2) I think exposure to music creates appreciation, so they should be exposed to real well-performed music. Big long pieces - not just extracts.
3) My favourite conductor - Yevgeni Mravinsky. He conducted the Leningrad Philharmonic for 50 years. There's a lot of footage of him on YouTube.
What was the most important motivation which made you become into a musician?
I come from a musical family. I grew up with music and I just loved it since I was a child.
How do you feel about what is happening with American orchestras, such as the current situation in Atlanta? What do you think needs to happen to resolve the issues? How about on a global scale, such as with the Concertgebouw and the Danish National Chamber Orchestra?
I feel that the business model that some American orchestras apply needs reviewing. But at the same time I feel badly about the musicians and all their skills being undermined like that.
However, the situation in Europe where there is more public funding... I'm afraid the tendency is going to be similar, so we may hear about more various problems and cutting of orchestral activities.
It's really easy to run down an orchestra, but it takes a long, long time to build one again.
Hello Maestro, as an orchestral bassoonist, I'm curious what you perceive to be the most important characteristics that members of your wind section can strive for?
A wind player in an orchestra needs to constantly switch between being a soloist and being an orchestral player.
Do you like trombones?
I love trombones! Think about the solo in Sibelius No. 7.
Good Evening! Have you seen any major demographic changes in the people attending classical concerts since you began conducting?
Over a period of 20 years... I think probably classical music is something that you grow into when you get a bit older. I have seen new people come into concerts but not a significant demographic change. There are occasions and cities where I'm really impressed by the amount of young people, for example Frankfurt and some Finnish cities too.
Is there a future for orchestral music?
Yes, definitely. Whether in the same form as nowadays is another question.
What's your take on fusion music ? (With indian classical music)
There are several examples - the music by A.R. Rahman, but there are also older examples like the British composer John Foulds who moved to India in the 1930s and endeavoured to create a completely new musical style which could be called fusion.
The interaction of different cultures can only be good for art.
What's the best way to get more people listening to modern music?
Who are your favourite living composers?
PS: I'm sending this from my phone while in the queue for tonight's proms concert!
I think the best way to get people to listen to more modern music is to package it beautifully with something people can relate to and something the modern piece can relate to.
I can't really name favourite living composers, but I love doing contemporary music.
What non-classical music do you listen to?
Occasionally folk music from the Balkans.