Storgårds studied violin with Esther Raitio and Jouko Ignatius at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, and continued his violin studies with Chaim Taub in Israel. He was a founding member of the Avanti! Chamber Orchestra. After experience leading orchestras from the front desk of the violin section, his interest in conducting increased after an invitation to conduct the Helsinki University Symphony Orchestra. He subsequently returned to the Sibelius Academy from 1993–1997 to study conducting with Jorma Panula and Eri Klas.
In 1996, Storgårds became Artistic Director of the Chamber Orchestra of Lapland. With the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, he became Principal Guest Conductor in 2003 and subsequently Chief Conductor in autumn 2008, for an initial contract of 4 years. Following an extension of his Helsinki contract to 2014, Storgårds concluded his Helsinki tenure in December 2015. From 2006 to 2009, Storgårds was Chief Conductor of the Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra. Storgårds has held the Artistic Directorships of many summer festivals, most recently of the Korsholm Music Festival between 2004–2006, and Avanti's! Summer Sounds Festival. In 2017, he conducted the premiere of Sebastian Fagerlund's Autumn Sonata (opera).
Outside of Finland, in March 2011, Storgårds was appointed principal guest conductor of the BBC Philharmonic, effective January 2012, succeeding Vassily Sinaisky. He now has the title of chief guest conductor of the BBC Philharmonic. In January 2015, Storgårds was named the new principal guest conductor of the National Arts Centre Orchestra (NACO), only the second conductor ever to hold the title, effective with the 2015–2016 season with an initial contract of 3 seasons.
Storgårds received the Finnish State Prize for Music in 2002. He has made a number of international recordings for Ondine, Sony, BIS, Da Capo Records, and Chandos Records including recordings of music by Andrzej Panufnik, John Corigliano, Per Nørgård, and George Antheil. His recording of Pēteris Vasks' Violin Concerto Distant Light and Second Symphony won the Cannes Classical Disc of the Year Award in 2004. In 2014, his recording with the BBC Philharmonic of the complete symphonies of Jean Sibelius was released, including his second recording of three fragments of the Eighth Symphony.
- Michael Tumelty (2009-01-21). "High-flying Finn promises a sizzling SSO debut". The Herald. Retrieved 2009-01-22.[permanent dead link]
- "Autumn Season 2011 Begins New Music Centre Era for the Helsinki Philharmonic" (Press release). Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra. 7 March 2011. Archived from the original on 6 November 2013. Retrieved 2011-03-19.
- "John Storgårds will extend his contract as Chief Conductor" (Press release). Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra. October 2013. Archived from the original on 2013-11-06. Retrieved 2013-11-03.
- Samuli Tiikkaja (2013-10-20). "John Storgårds on orkesterin luottovahti". Helsingin Sanomat. Retrieved 2013-11-03.
- "New Principal Guest Conductor Announced: John Storgårds to succeed Vassily Sinaisky in 2012" (Press release). BBC Philharmonic. 2 March 2011. Retrieved 2011-03-19.
- "Canada's National Arts Centre Orchestra appoints John Storgårds as Principal Guest Conductor" (Press release). Konzertdirection Schmid. 6 January 2015. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 2016-01-02.
- Andrew Clements (2007-09-07). "Panufnik: Sinfonia di Sfere; Sinfonia Sacra; etc, Tampere PO/ Storgards". The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-10-28.
- Allan Kozinn (2005-08-12). "Adventures Outside the Classical Canon: Pathfinding Composers". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-10-28.
- Andrew Clements (2016-06-15). "Nørgård: Symphonies 2 & 6; 4 & 5 CD review – an exhilarating musical journey". The Guardian. Retrieved 2016-07-26.
- Rick Jones (2005-03-02). "Meet the Maestro - John Storgårds". Classical Music Magazine. Archived from the original on 2015-10-29. Retrieved 2016-01-02.
| Chief Conductor, Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra
| Chief Conductor, Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra