Violinist Pekka Kuusisto’s mission to update the classical concert experience

Posted on: August 16, 2018

“It was an unusual request for visitors to a classical music venue,” writes Ivan Hewett in Tuesday’s (8/14) Telegraph (U.K.) “ ‘Audience members seated in section A,’ the note said, ‘must take off their shoes.’ … Instead of seats, visitors would be lying in the pockets of an enormous red dress worn by [violinist Pekka Kuusisto] … to reduce the ‘distance’ between the performer and the audience… Last week, he played a concerto at the Proms that involved improvised singing and whistling…. He … reveres the classics of his instrument’s repertoire—the great concertos by Brahms, Mendelssohn, Bartók; the sonatas of Bach, Beethoven and Brahms … [After] Kuusisto won first prize in the hugely prestigious Sibelius violin competition … a career as a conventional virtuoso seemed assured, but [at a folk festival in Ostrobothnia] ‘I heard … a Finnish fiddle group called JPP. They played some tunes that shocked me…. This may sound cheesy but, to me, what folk music gives you is a different way of relating to your colleagues and your audience. It has a straightforwardness and honesty.’ ” In addition to his solo career, Kuusisto is one of five artistic partners at the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.

Posted August 16, 2018

In photo: Violinist Pekka Kuusisto (in red dress) and the Meidän Orkesteri perform at the Helsinki Festival in 2013. Photo by Maarit Kytöharju