Jukka-Pekka Saraste has established himself as one of the outstanding conductors of his generation, demonstrating remarkable musical depth and integrity. Born in Heinola, Finland, he began his career as a violinist before training as a conductor with Jorma Panula at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki.
Saraste has served as Chief Conductor of the WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne since 2010. His previous positions include Music Director and Chief Conductor of the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra (from 2006 to 2013), of which he is now Conductor Laureate, as well as the principal conductorships of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra and Toronto Symphony Orchestra. He also was Principal Guest Conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra. He founded the Finnish Chamber Orchestra and the orchestra´s annual Tammisaari Festival, for which he is Artistic Director. Last but not least, he is a founding member of LEAD! The Orchestra Project, which aims to teach effective musical leadership and communication skills to aspiring young musicians within the context of orchestra playing, in workshops and masterclasses.
His guest engagements have led him to the major orchestras worldwide, including the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Munich Philharmonic, Dresden Staatskapelle, Bavarian Radio Symphony, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Vienna Symphony, NHK Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris and the leading Scandinavian orchestras, among others. In North America he has conducted the Cleveland Orchestra, Boston Symphony, Chicago Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic and New York Philharmonic as well as Orchestre symphonique de Montréal.
His extensive discography includes the complete symphonies of Sibelius and Nielsen with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra. He has also made a number of critically acclaimed recordings for Toronto Symphony Orchestra. His recordings with the WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne with works by Mahler, Schönberg, Stravinsky, Brahms, Bruckner and Cerha have received widespread acknowledgement.
Jukka-Pekka Saraste has received the Pro Finlandia Prize, the Sibelius Medal, and the Finnish State Prize for Music. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from York University, Toronto, and an honorary doctorate from the Sibelius Academy, Helsinki.