Santtu-Matias Rouvali

Principal Conductor

Portrait of Santtu-Matias Rouvali

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

This is his first season as Principal Conductor of the Philharmonia. He is just the sixth person to hold that title since the orchestra was founded in 1945. 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 album, a live recording of excerpts from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, was released by Signum Records, followed by Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5. During the pandemic he conducted music by Aaron Copland and Florence Price in one of our Live from Southbank Centre streamed concerts, and played with our percussion section in Steve Reich’s Music for Pieces of Wood.

This season Santtu conducts the Philharmonia in all our UK residency venues – London, Bedford, Leicester, Basingstoke and Canterbury – and takes the orchestra on tour to Bucharest, Amsterdam, Antwerp, Spain, France, Germany and Japan.

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 ‘Decouverte’. 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.

Throughout the season Santtu continues his relationships with orchestras including the Concertgebouworkest and New York Philharmonic as well as the Munich Philharmonic and Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France.

When he’s not conducting, Santtu loves to spend time meditating, foraging and hunting for food in the forests around his home near Tampere.

“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, former President of the Philharmonia Orchestra and member of the First Violin section)

See concerts with Santtu-Matias Rouvali


Santtu-Matias Rouvali

Our Principal Conductor