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Sakari Oramo Awarded The Elgar Medal: A fitting valedictory for the CBSO's departing Music Director (BK)

The Elgar Society today announces Finnish conductor Sakari Oramo as the seventh recipient of the Elgar Medal since the award was instituted in 1991 to “recognise those, who are neither natives nor citizens of the United Kingdom, who have done much to further the reputation of Elgar and his music, either by performance or through scholarship.”  Formed in 1951 to promote the study, performance and appreciation of the works of Elgar and research into his life and music, the Elgar Society is the largest British composer society with a worldwide membership.  Andrew Neill, the Chairman of the Society, remarks on Oramo’s achievement:

The Society does not award its medal lightly, but Sakari Oramo’s commitment to the music of Elgar and other British composers over his years in Britain cannot be over-stated.  Mr Oramo has not only embraced Elgar’s music in Birmingham but he has also taken it on tour overseas and, when he moves to Stockholm, will be performing and recording Elgar’s music there too.  Furthermore, his conducting of Elgar’s three great choral works, firstly on their centenary and then in Elgar’s 150th year shed new light on these masterpieces.  These concerts affirmed Sakari Oramo’s importance as an interpreter of Elgar’s music and showed, beyond doubt, his understanding of these complex scores.  It is difficult to imagine a more deserving recipient of our medal than Sakari Oramo.

With the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Oramo spearheaded the UK’s Elgar 150th Anniversary campaign in 2007, culminating in a recording of “a sensational [The Dream of] Gerontius” (Gramophone) and “the most appealing rendition of the Enigma Variations that I have experienced since Sir Adrian Boult” (Evening Standard).  Oramo considers the experience of working on the three Elgar oratorios, The Dream of Gerontius, The Apostles, and The Kingdom, the artistic highpoint of his CBSO decade during which they performed Elgar across Europe.  Stephen Maddock, Chief Executive of the CBSO says:


Sakari's performances of Elgar in Birmingham, London, Berlin, Amsterdam and elsewhere have provided some of the real highlights of his ten years with the CBSO.  In particular the 150th birthday weekend in June 2007, when he became the first non-Englishman to conduct all three of Elgar's great 'Birmingham' oratorios as a cycle, was an achievement that all who were there will never forget.

On 11th and 12th of  June at Birmingham’s Symphony Hall, Sakari Oramo will conduct his final concerts with the CBSO as the Music Director.   He concludes his 10-year tenure with Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, with which Oramo will also open the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra’s 2008–09 Season on 11 September as the Orchestra’s new Chief Conductor and Artistic Advisor.  On 14 August, Oramo, as the Chief Conductor, brings the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra to the Edinburgh International Festival for their second appearance in three years in a programme featuring soprano Karita Mattila.  From the start of the 2008–09 season, Oramo becomes the CBSO’s Principal Guest Conductor.

Bill Kenny

John Quinn will review one of Sakari Oramo's final CBSO concerts for Seen and Heard. (Ed)

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