KD SCHMID Olari Elts


Olari Elts

Biography – about the artist.

Music Director and Chief Conductor Estonian National Symphony Orchestra (from 20/21) and Artistic Advisor Kymi Sinfonietta

Olari Elts’ passion for distinctive programming rich with invention has earned him much praise on the international music scene. Elts begins his tenure as Music Director and Chief Conductor of the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra in 2020/21 season. Since 2018, he is also Artistic Advisor of the Kymi Sinfonietta. 

Olari Elts has appeared as a guest conductor with such orchestras as Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Finnish Radio Symphony, Danish National Symphony, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, BBC Symphony, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, RTÉ Dublin Orchestra, Staatskapelle Weimar, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Orchestre National de France, Orchestre national de Lyon, Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg, Budapest Festival Orchestra, National Arts Centre Orchestra Ottawa, Yomiuri Nippon Symphony, Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, and Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. Soloists with whom he collaborates include Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, Gautier and Renaud Capuçon, Brett Dean, Isabelle Faust, Alban Gerhardt, Martin Grubinger, Martin Helmchen, Stephen Hough, Lucas & Arthur Jussen, Kari Kriikku, Karita Mattila, Alexander Melnikov, Maxim Rysanov, Baiba Skride, Lara St. John, Simon Trpčeski, and Antoine Tamestit.

In the 2020/21 season, Elts will return to orchestras with which he has regularly collaborated such as Latvian National Symphony, Turku Philharmonic, Orquestra Sinfónica do Porto Casa da Música, Seattle Symphony, Malaysian Philharmonic, amongst others. He also looks forward to his debut with the Sinfonieorchester Wuppertal and Orchestre symphonique de Quebec.

As a champion of contemporary Baltic composers such as Erkki-Sven Tüür and Heino Eller, Elts has released recordings of Heino Eller’s Symphonic Poems as well as Eller’s violin concerto with Baiba Skride and the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra. Also widely celebrated by critics are his Ondine recordings of Erkki- Sven Tüür works with Tapiola Sinfonietta including the viola concerto with Lawrence Power, and Tüür’s Symphony No. 5 for electric guitar, orchestra, big band and the accordion concerto Prophecy with the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra. His 2016 recording of Brahms’ arrangements (Detlev, Berio) with Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra also won high praise. Elts’ discography also includes the Borgström and Shostakovich violin concertos with Eldbjørg Hemsing and the Wiener Symphoniker under the BIS label, and Poul Ruders Symphony No.5 with the Danish National Symphony Orchestra by Bridge Records.

Elts also made his mark in the opera field, having conducted titles such as Eugene Onegin, Mozart’s Don Giovanni and Idomeneo, Berlioz’s La Damnation du Faust, etc. Crossing genres, Elts toured to the Konzerthaus Berlin with the theatre-concert production which combines Mendelssohn and Shakespeare’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream” with the Tallinn-based theatre company NO99. For Bernstein’s 100th anniversary, Elts conducted the film “On the Waterfront” with live orchestral accompaniment of the soundtrack.

Elts was Principal Guest Conductor of the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra from 2007-2020 and held the same position at Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra from 2011-2014. He was also Artistic Advisor of the Orchestre de Bretagne from 2006-2011, Principal Guest Conductor of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra from 2007-2010 and Chief Conductor of the Latvian National Symphony Orchestra from 2001-2006. Born in Tallinn in 1971, Elts is founder of his contemporary music ensemble, NYYD Ensemble. 

Season 2020/2021

The next dates:


Kuressaare Castle Opera House

Saare maakond

> more about the promoter

Your contact persons:

General Management:

Vanessa Tsoi

+44 20 7395 09-17


Claudia Stott

Artist Coordinator

+44 20 7395 0936


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Heino Eller: Symphonic Poems

10.2019, Ondine, CD

> Amazon > iTunes

Heino Eller

11.2018, Ondine, CD

> Amazon > iTunes

Borgstrom, Shostakovich & Hemsing

04.2018, Bis, CD

> Amazon > iTunes

Erkki-Sven Tüür

02.2018, Ondine, CD

> Amazon > iTunes

Poul Ruders

Symphony No. 5

04.2017, Bridge Records, CD

> Amazon > iTunes


„“The conductor Olari Elts clearly has the measure of them, and most obviously an ear for how best to draw out the detail of the intriguing colours Tüür manages to extract from both soloists and orchestra.”“

By Richard Hanlon, MusicWeb International, 01.04.2018

„Themes and ideas, interconnections and contrasts, ricocheted across Estonian conductor Olari Elts’s cleverly constructed concert with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. […] Elts’s Rautavaara was a slow-burn, vivid with carefully etched detail and drawing intensely on the SCO players’ soloistic skills […] Elts’s Respighi was no less vivid, with an exquisite sparkle to its impeccably balanced textures – refined, but with a mischievous glint in its eye all the same. […] Elts’s Copland, too, felt intimate and introspective rather than monumental and expansive, offering a very fresh, human perspective on this well-loved classic of Americana.“

The Scotsman, David Kettle, 07.11.2017

„“Conducting without a baton, Estonian Olari Elts’ precise, restrained approach conjured a touching austere beauty from the players. […] It was fascinating to follow Vasks’ composition for the orchestra, each individual section receiving a share of the limelight, carefully guided by Elts, breathing as one with the music. […] Bright woodwinds brought colour to the moderate duo before the piccolo and clarinet led the dancing with Elts keeping everything light and sprightly before the variations on Simple Gifts and bringing a calm and flowing beauty right to the delicate raindrops at the end.”“

By David Smythe, bachtrack, 03.11.2017

„Elts’ conducting can be flamboyant at the same time as being meticulously precise. [...] The result in Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances had intensity and color, decisiveness and vigor, allied with the same sensitivity which pervaded the Rhapsody, plus fine work from the alto saxophone in the first movement.“

The SunBreak, Philippa Kiraly, 17.04.2017

„There’s an irresistible energy and joy in Elts’ conducting style; he leaps about the podium, sweeping his arms and hands in enthusiastic but exquisitely clear, focused gestures. His gift for revealing inner structures gave the symphony a fresh, living dimensionality.“

Artsfile Ottawa, Natasha Gauthier, 30.03.2017