Eva Ollikainen

Chief Conductor and Artistic Director

Eva Ollikainen is Chief Conductor and Artistic Director at the Iceland Symphony Orchestra.

Whether in orchestral concerts or leading operatic performances, the young Finnish conductor Eva Ollikainen impresses with her natural authority and infectious enthusiasm, as well as with her elegant and nuanced technique.

In the 2018/19 season she made her debut with the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra conducting Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, in Italy with Orchestra della Toscana, and finally at the Royal Danish Opera with Puccini's Turandot. She also continued her Beethoven symphony cycle with the Jönköping Sinfonietta, and conducted the ballets Nutcracker and Swan Lake for the Semperoper. As principal conductor of the Nordic Chamber Orchestra, for the 2018/19 season Eva Ollikainen has paired German classical and Romantic repertoire with Baltic Sea composers such as Jean Sibelius, Galina Ustvolskaya and Peteris Vasks.

Her decision to pursue a career in conducting was reached as a young student at the Sibelius Academy, where she studied with Leif Segerstam and Jorma Panula and also trained as a pianist. At the age of 21 she won the international Jorma Panula Conducting Competition and subsequently worked with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Kurt Masur as well as the Philharmonia Orchestra and Christoph von Dohnányi as part of the Conducting Academy of the Allianz Cultural Foundation. Also important was the instruction she received from Bernard Haitink and Herbert Blomstedt as a Conducting Fellow of the Tanglewood Music Center.

She has subsequently developed a comprehensive repertoire with a focus on the great German symphonies, and continues to work with the leading Scandinavian orchestras such as the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, Swedish Radio Symphony, Copenhagen Philharmonic, Turku Philharmonic and the Lahti Symphony. In addition, she is also a frequent guest conductor of the Staatskapelle Dresden and has received invitations to lead the Wiener Symphoniker, the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Brussels Philharmonic and the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra. Ollikainen also recently conducted the Magic Flute for the Royal Swedish Opera and Carmen for the Gothenburg Opera.

Eva Ollikainen conducted the Iceland Symphony Orchestra for the first time in 2005, when she jumped in to conduct a youth concert at short notice. She conducted the orchestra several times between 2007 and 2010, including memorable and widely praised performances of Brahms and Ravel. She conducted the orchestra for the first time in Harpa Concert Hall in February 2019, and her rapport with the orchestra was so impressive that she was offered the post of Chief Conductor shortly afterwards.