The Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the Kuopio Symphony Orchestra, Jaakko Kuusisto, died of a severe illness on 23 February, 2022 in Oulu, Finland.
Jaakko Kuusisto had a long and an especially warm relationship with the Kuopio Symphony. Kuusisto made his debut with the KSO already in 1988 and only a year later, at the age or 15, he won the Kuopio Violin Competition. In 1997 Kuusisto toured as the violin soloist with the KSO in Japan and recorded with the orchestra in 1999. After that he guest conducted the orchestra both in symphony concerts as well as with a more popular repertoire, for example, with the Vocal Ensemble Rajaton. His compositions have been performed at several KSO concerts in Kuopio and in 2017 his family opera The Canine Kalevala was performed at the Kuopio City Theatre.
Jaakko Kuusisto was appointed the Chief Conductor of the Kuopio Symphony Orchestra as of August 2018. During his leadership Kuusisto developed the character and sound of the orchestra as well as its working methods.
The collaboration between Jaakko Kuusisto and the Kuopio Symphony Orchestra, which was mutually considered fruitful and productive, was therefore extended until the end of summer 2023. Based on his broad expertise, multi-talented background and open-minded views, Jaakko introduced works of new composers and new music to the orchestra’s repertoire, novel programme choices and unexpected guest artists all the while respecting the traditions. During Jaakko Kuusisto’s season the audience of the KSO were introduced to a new perspective to the world of orchestra music as well as to possibilities to experience unique music performances created with passion and exceptional skill.
Kuusisto was beloved and respected both as a music director and chief conductor as well as a composer, violinist and a colleague in the workplace. Thanks to his unbeatable and good humour, sharp intellect and approachable character, Jaakko was excellent company and, furthermore, an incomparable public figure and representative of the Kuopio Symphony Orchestra.
The last time Jaakko Kuusisto stepped onto the podium of the Kuopio Music Centre Concert Hall stage was in November 2021, at the KSO free concert called Call of the North, before which also the KSO Spring Season 2022 programme was published with a hopeful spirit. None could have believed that this concert would be the last performance together in Kuopio. This shared journey was inconsolably interrupted with the sad news of his passing. Jaakko Kuusisto’s compositions, nevertheless, demonstrate the great and wonderful legacy he left behind for the international music world.
Kuopio Symphony Orchestra’s concert on 24 February, 2022 was dedicated to the memory of Jaakko Kuusisto.
Jaakko Kuusisto will truly be missed both personally and professionally. We send our heartfelt condolences to his family and loved ones for the immeasurable sorrow.