Music Director and Chief Conductor Estonian National Symphony Orchestra,
Artistic Advisor Kymi Sinfonietta
Olari Elts’ passion for distinctive programming rich with invention has earned him much praise on the international music scene. He began his tenure as Music Director and Chief Conductor of the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra in 2020. Since 2018, he is also Artistic Advisor of the Kymi Sinfonietta.
Olari Elts has appeared as a guest conductor with orchestras such as Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Finnish Radio Symphony, Danish National Symphony, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, BBC Symphony, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Orchestre National de France, Orchestre National de Lyon, Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg, Budapest Festival Orchestra, Orchestre Symphonique de Québec, Yomiuri Nippon Symphony, Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra and Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. Soloists with whom he collaborates include Daniel Lozakovich, 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, Baiba Skride, Simon Trpčeski, and Antoine Tamestit.
In the 2022/23 season, Elts leads the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra on tour to Germany and France in cities including Munich and Paris, along with violinist Daniel Lozakovich. He guest conducts orchestras such as the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Latvian National Symphony Orchestra, the Hamburg and Dusseldorf Symphony orchestras, Tapiola Sinfonietta, the George Enescu Philharmonic Orchestra, and returns to Orquestra Sinfónica do Porto Casa da Música for the world premiere of a new piece by Erkki-Sven Tüür. This season marks his return to Asia for his debut with the National Symphony Orchestra of Taiwan and in Norway he records with the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra a new album with music by award-winning composer Øyvind Torvund. Elts finishes off the season with a grand tour of the UK with the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, whilst maintaining his close collaboration with the Kymi Sinfonietta.
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, Tüür’s Symphony No. 5 for electric guitar, orchestra, big band and the accordion concerto Prophecy with the Helsinki Philharmonic. His 2016 recording of Brahms’ arrangements (Glanert, Berio) with Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra also received high praise. Elts’ discography 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. His recently released an album with music by Kalevi Aho, recorded with the Antwerp Symphony Orchestra.
Elts also made his mark in the opera field, having conducted titles such as Eugene Onegin, Mozart’s Don Giovanni and Idomeneo and Berlioz’s La Damnation du Faust. Crossing genres, Elts toured to the Konzerthaus Berlin with the theatre-concert production which combined 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 Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg.
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 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.