The Finnish conductor Pietari Inkinen has been Chief Conductor of the Deutsche Radio Philharmonie since September 2017, where his contract has recently been extended until June 2025. He is also Chief Conductor of the Japan Philharmonic Orchestra, a post he has held since 2016 and extended until 2023 August. He is also the designated music director of KBS Symphony Orchestra in Seoul, starting his 3 years term from January 1, 2022.
Recent and future highlights include his debuts with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Gürzenich Orchestra, NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester, SWR Symphony Orchestra and Budapest Festival Orchestra. In previous seasons Pietari Inkinen has also conducted Staatskapelle Berlin, Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and Helsinki Philharmonic.
The music of Richard Wagner being of great significance to Pietari Inkinen’s work, he was invited to conduct the prospective new production of Der Ring des Nibelungen at the Bayreuth Festival (director: Valentin Schwarz). During the summer 2021 he will be conducting three performances of Walküre on the Green Hill. Earlier, he conducted the tetralogy with great success at Opera Australia in Melbourne, for which he received the Helpmann Award in 2014 and the Green Room Award for Best Opera Conductor in 2016. Other opera productions have taken him to the Finnish National Opera, the Théâtre de la Monnaie, the Staatsoper Unter den Linden and the Bavarian State Opera. He conducted Wagner’s Walküre and Das Rheingold in Palermo’s Teatro Massimo, and performances of a highly successful new production of Eugene Onegin at the Dresden Semperoper.
Pietari Inkinen has also been Chief Conductor of the Prague Symphony Orchestra and the Orchestra of the Ludwigsburg Schlossfestspiele. During his time as Music Director of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, he conducted the recording of all of Sibelius’ symphonies for the Naxos label as well as Rautavaara’s Manhattan Trilogy. Also worth mentioning is a CD with arias and orchestral pieces by Richard Wagner with tenor Simon O’Neill (EMI), as well as Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 1 and Britten’s Cello Symphony together with Johannes Moser (Hänssler). In addition, he recorded excerpts from Wagner’s Siegfried and symphonies of Prokofiev and Dvořák with the Deutsche Radio Philharmonie (SWRmusic/Naxos).
Inkinen is also an accomplished violinist. He studied at the Cologne Music Academy with Zakhar Bron before taking further studies in conducting at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki.
Ken-ichiro KOBAYASHI studied composition and conducting at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music. In 1974, he received both the first prize and the special award at the first International Conductor’s Competition of Hungarian Television in Budapest. Presently KOBAYASHI holds positions at the Arnhem Phil. (Permanent Conductor), the Hungarian National Phil. (Conductor Laureate), the Nagoya Phil. (Conductor Laureate), MATAV Hungarian Symphony Orchestra (Principal Guest Conductor), and the Kyushu Symphony (Principal Guest Conductor). He is also a professor at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music and a guest professor at the Tokyo College of Music.
KOBAYASHI received the Liszt Memorial Decoration, the Hungarian Order of Culture and the “Middle Cross with the Star” decoration from the Hungarian government. KOBAYASHI has released numerous recordings from Canyon Classics and Octavia Records. KOBAYASHI received a commission to compose a work in commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Holland and Japan in 2000. Its first performance in Amsterdam with the Netherlands Phil. in the fall of 1999 to a sell-out audience received a standing ovation. In May 2002, he conducted the very successful opening concert of the Prague Spring Festival. He conducted the complete “Ma Vlast” (My Homeland).
Alexander Lazarev is one of Russia's foremost conductors. He studied with Leo Ginsbourg at the Moscow Conservatory graduating with first class honours. In 1971 he won first prize in the Soviet Union's national competition for conductors, and the following year went on to win first prize and gold medal at the Karajan Competition in Berlin.From 1987 to 1995 Lazarev was Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the Bolshoi Theatre, the first person for over thirty years to hold both positions concurrently.
His leadership marked a period of intensive activity with the Bolshoi Opera undertaking an unprecedented programme of prestigious foreign tours including Tokyo (1989), La Scala, Milan (1989), the Edinburgh Festival (1990 and 1991) and the Metropolitan Opera in New York (1991). Several of the Theatre’s most successful productions including Glinka’s A Life for the Tsar, Tchaikovsky’s The Maid of Orleans and Rimsky-Korsakov’s Mlada were filmed for video, and the Bolshoi Symphony Orchestra made a number of highly acclaimed recordings for Erato including such milestones of the Russian symphonic repertoire as Rachmaninov Symphony No. 2 and Shostakovich Symphony No. 8.
From 1992 to 1995 he was Principal Guest Conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, and from 1997 to 2005 Principal Conductor of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra where his conducting of the complete cycle of Shostakovich symphonies was a high point of his tenure. In recent years he has worked as a regular guest with the Philharmonia Orchestra and the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, appearing with them in London, Paris and Vienna. Other orchestras he has conducted include the Berlin Philharmonic, Munich Philharmonic, Bavarian Radio Symphony, Royal Concertgebouw, Orchestra Filarmonica della Scala, Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Orchestre National de France, Oslo Philharmonic, Swedish Radio Symphony, NHK Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Montreal Symphony and London Philharmonic, and he has appeared with opera companies such as the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie, Arena di Verona, Opéra Bastille, Grand Théâtre de Genève, Bavarian State Opera and Netherlands Opera.
His repertoire is particularly enterprising in its scope, ranging from the eighteenth century to the avant-garde. In 1978 he founded the Ensemble of Soloists of the Bolshoi Theatre whose most important aim was the programming and wide dissemination of contemporary music by both Soviet and foreign composers.
Alexander Lazarev is a prolific recording artist, appearing on such labels as Erato, Melodiya, Virgin Classics, Sony Classical, Hyperion, BMG, BIS and Linn Records. Now Conductor Laureate, he was Principal Conductor of the Japan Philharmonic Orchestra from 2008 to 2016. His work with the orchestra is extensively represented on Octavia Records; following the success of their complete cycles of the symphonies of Prokofiev, Rachmaninov and Shostakovich, they are now embarking on a Glazunov series.
Born in Tokyo, Junichi Hirokami studied conducting, piano, musicology and viola at the prestigious Tokyo College of Music. He began his conducting career at the age of 26 after winning the first Kondrashin International Conducting Competition in Amsterdam. Since 1990, Junichi Hirokami has appeared as guest conductor with major orchestras throughout the world including the Orchestre National de France, Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, and Wiener Symphoniker.
Between 1988 and 1995, Hirokami was Chief Conductor of Sweden's Norrköping Symphony Orchestra. Since then he served as Chief Conductor of the Limburg Symphony Orchestra (1998-2000), Principal Guest Conductor of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic (1997-2001), Principal Conductor of Japan Philharmonic (1991-2000), and Music Director of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra (2006-2008).
In recent years, he has been a guest conductor of orchestras which include the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, L'Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi, the Saint Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra of Moscow, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, and Gewandhausorchester Leipzig.
In Japan he has conducted all the major orchestras including NHK Symphony Orchestra and the Saito Kinen Orchestra. He also received great acclaim for his appearance with the Mito Chamber Orchestra.
He is prolific in opera as well, having led celebrated performances of "Un ballo in maschera" and "Rigoletto" at the the Sydney Opera House, and his most recent triumphs include "La Traviata" at the Fujiwara Opera, "Le Nozze di Figaro" and "Ainadamar" at the Nissay Theatre, and "La Traviata" and "Aida" at the New National Theatre.
Hirokami is currently Chief Conductor and Music Advisor of the Kyoto Symphony Orchestra. In his eight years, he made the orchestra grown up greatly and made a big success at Suntory Hall, Tokyo too in 2014 which televised by NHK. In 2015 he received 46th Suntory Music Award with Kyoto Symphony Orchestra together.
He serves as professor at Tokyo College of Music and guest professor at Kyoto City University of Arts.
The Singaporean conductor Kahchun Wong is the Chief Conductor of the Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra and the newly appointed Principal Guest Conductor of the Japan Philharmonic Orchestra. Praised by Musical America for the “depth and sincerity of his musicality”, he first came to international attention as the winner of the Gustav Mahler Conducting Competition in 2016.
Highlights in 2021/2022 include notable debuts with the Cleveland Orchestra, Detroit Symphony, Seattle Symphony, Dresden Philharmonic and Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony, in addition to returning to the Bamberg Symphony, Orquesta de Valencia and Tokyo Philharmonic in a specially curated gala featuring Toru Takemitsu’s rarely performed Arc cycle. Celebrated by the press for his recent debuts with the New York Philharmonic, Czech Philharmonic and Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Wong has also appeared with Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, Orchestre national d'Île-de-France, Osaka Philharmonic, Tokyo Symphony and Yomiuri Nippon Symphony during the 2020/2021 season.
A protégé of the late Kurt Masur, Wong had the privilege of sharing the podium with him on multiple occasions in his final years. He was appointed to the Dudamel Fellowship programme with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 2016/17, and holds a Master of Music degree in orchestral/operatic conducting at the Hanns Eisler Musikhochschule in Berlin.
Wong believes in the power of music to inspire and uplift, mirroring his own journey as a musician from a young Southeast Asian country. In 2016, he co-founded Project Infinitude with Marina Mahler, the granddaughter of Gustav Mahler. Over the next few years, he worked closely with Child at Street 11, a non-profit Singaporean agency to support more than 100 children from underserved and diverse backgrounds. In 2019, together with BR-Klassik and Stadtsparkasse Nürnberg, he conceptualised and led PACHELBEL.VIER.NULL, a collaborative TV project which raised donations for Sternstunden e.V., a non-profit association for children in Germany. During the 2020 pandemic, he convened over 1000 international musicians for a digital sing-along of Beethoven's Ode to Joy for ChildAid, an annual charity event in Singapore which raised close to 2 million dollars for the Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund and the Business Times Budding Artists Fund.
In December 2019 at only the age of 33, Wong became the first artist from Singapore to be conferred the Order of Merit by the Federal President of Germany for his dedicated service and outstanding achievements in Singaporean-German cultural relations and the advancement of German music culture abroad.