Santtu-Matias Rouvali

Principal Conductor Designate

Portrait of Santtu-Matias Rouvali

‘He is the real thing: music unmistakably flows from him’ (Sunday Times)

Santtu-Matias Rouvali first conducted the Philharmonia in 2013, aged 27. He was instantly recognised by the players as “an inspiring individual… a musician with spirit and passion akin to our own” (Cheremie Hamilton-Miller, Vice-President of the Philharmonia Orchestra and member of the Viola section)

In 2018 he became Principal Guest Conductor, and in 2019 we named him as our next Principal Conductor. He will be just the sixth person to hold that title when he takes over the baton from Esa-Pekka Salonen from the 2021/22 season. On his appointment, he said: “This is the start of a great adventure. The 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.”

He has already conducted a wide range of music with the Philharmonia, from blockbusters by Strauss and Rachmaninov to lesser known works by his compatriots Sibelius and Lindberg. In 2020 his first Philharmonia CD, a live recording of excerpts from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, was released by Signum Records.

Santtu is also Chief Conductor of Gothenburg Symphony, and retains his longstanding Chief Conductor position with Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra close to his home in Finland. With Gothenburg Symphony he is recording an ambitious Sibelius cycle – the first two volumes both received the Choc de Classica, and the first was also named Gramophone Editor’s Choice and Diapason D’Or ‘Découverte’. In Tampere, alongside a busy symphonic conducting schedule, he has conducted Verdi’s La forza del destino, and the world premiere of Olli Kortekangas’s My Brother’s Keeper (Veljeni vartija) with Tampere Opera.

Last season included concerts with the New York and Berlin Philharmonics and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, and this season he is due to appear across Europe, with the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, and Münchner Philharmoniker, and alongside soloists such as Alice Sara Ott, Pekka Kuusisto, Bryce Dessner, Nina Stemme, Vadim Gluzman, Nemanja Radulović and Vikingur Olafssson.

When he’s not conducting, Santtu loves to spend time working on his farm near Helsinki, and meditating, foraging and hunting in the forests around his home.

“It’s a rare thing to have such an instant rapport with a conductor and we are all extremely lucky.  We look forward to making history together.” (Victoria Irish, President of the Philharmonia Orchestra and member of the First Violin section)


Santtu-Matias Rouvali

Our next Principal Conductor