Esa Heikkila - Conductor
The Finnish conductor, Esa Heikkilä, is Music Director of the Lohja City Orchestra where his contract has recently been extended until 2018. He is also Artistic Director of Symphony Orchestra Vivo, Artistic Director of the Riihimäki Summer Concerts Festival and Senior Lecturer for Orchestra and Chamber Music at Lahti University of Applied Sciences. In February 2010 the review for his second visit to the Minnesota Orchestra in the USA said ...the electricity generated by Sibelius' "En Saga." Heikkila and the orchestra did splendid things with it, as icy atmospherics gave way to volcanic low brass ...“ (The Pioneer Press). He has previously enjoyed a most successful period as Chief Conductor of the Joensuu City Orchestra (Joensuun Kaupunginorkesteri) in Finland.
Esa Heikkilä passed his final conducting diploma concert at the Sibelius Academy, Helsinki, in March 2004 with the highest possible mark. He now conducts many of Finland`s major orchestras such as the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Turku Philharmonic, Tampere Philharmonic and Oulu Philharmonic orchestras, Sinfonia Lahti, Osthrobothnian Chamber Orchestra, Jyväskylä Symphony Orchestra, Kymi Sinfonietta, Pori Sinfonietta, Lappeenranta City Orchestra and Mikkeli City Orchestra.
Outside Finland he has made successful débuts with re-invitations from the Minnesota Orchestra in the USA, Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz plus the Philharmonie Südwestfalen in Germany, Ulster Orchestra for the BBC in Belfast, Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of Flanders, Odense Symfoniorkester, Norrköpings Symfoniorkester in Sweden and Cyprus Symphony Orchestra. This season sees him returning again to the Odense Symfoniorkester as well as and the Cyprus Symphony Orchestra alongside his other engagements. Esa Heikkilä has recorded with Sinfonia Lahti for the BIS label and his recording of Malcolm Arnold`s music with the Ulster Orchestra for the Naxos label was most favourably reviewed in The Gramophone.
One of the remarkable aspects of Esa Heikkilä´s career was his acceptance as a mature student at the age of 37 into Leif Segerstam´s conducting class at the Sibelius Academy having earlier started his conducting studies with Osmo Vänskä. Born in 1962, his outstanding talent as a conductor was already recognised in Finland when he began his studies at this famous academy. He had earlier begun his musical career as a violinist in the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra then the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra before becoming a violin section leader in Sinfonia Lahti. He has performed as a soloist with several Finnish orchestras and frequently played as a chamber musician at many festivals in Finland, also making chamber music recordings for the BIS label amongst others. His wide conducting repertoire has an emphasis on the music of Sibelius and many other Nordic composers ranging from Rautavaara, Sallinen, Aho and Pärt to Englund, Klami, Alfvén, etc., through the Russian school of composers to a central repertoire of orchestral music that also encompasses some choral, opera and ballet scores. Esa Heikkilä also includes contemporary music into his concert programmes and he conducts many first performances.