Okko Kamu

Okko Tapani Kamu (born 7 March 1946, Helsinki, Finland) is a Finnish orchestral conductor and violinist.

Okko Kamu
Okko Kamu in 1987
Okko Tapani Kamu

(1946-03-07) 7 March 1946 (age 74)
Helsinki, Finland
OccupationOrchestral conductor, violinist
Years active1969–present

Kamu was born into a family of musicians. His father played double bass in the Helsinki Philharmonic. He began violin studies at age two and entered the Sibelius Academy at age six. He formed his own string quartet, the Suhonen, in 1964 where he played first violin. At age 20, he was appointed first solo violinist at the Finnish National Opera, and held this post until 1968. He then began to conduct, initially with the Finnish National Opera orchestra. Primarily self-taught, he became principal guest conductor of the Royal Swedish Opera in 1969, the same year as he won the first Herbert von Karajan Conducting Competition in Berlin. From 1971 to 1977, Kamu was principal conductor of the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra.

Outside of Finland, Kamu was principal conductor of the Oslo Philharmonic from 1975 to 1979. He has also held leadership positions with the Stockholm Sinfonietta. He has been chief guest conductor of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Copenhagen Philharmonic, the Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra, and the Lausanne Chamber Orchestra. He was principal guest conductor of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra until 2017.

Kamu was chief conductor of the Finnish National Opera from 1996 to 2000.[1] He has been a noted conductor of the operas of Aulis Sallinen in the opera house[2] where he conducted the premieres of The Red Line, King Lear and The Palace, and on record.[3] He also conducted the premieres of Sallinen's 2nd and 3rd symphonies, and has recorded others. In April 2009, the Lahti Symphony Orchestra announced the appointment of Kamu as its next chief conductor, as of the autumn of 2011. Kamu's initial contract was through the spring of 2014.[4] In November 2012, the orchestra announced the extension of Kamu's contract through the end of July 2016,[5] at which time he concluded his tenure in Lahti.[6]

Kamu has recorded more than 100 discs for various labels, such as Finlandia[7][8] and Musica Sveciae.[9] For Naxos Records, he has recorded Franz Berwald's four symphonies and his piano concerto; Aulis Sallinen's Complete Music for String Orchestra; flute concertos by Penderecki, Takemitsu and Sallinen. Kamu's two discs of Berwald for Naxos both received the rare Diapason d'Or award.

In 1994, Kamu became a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music. He was awarded the Order of the Lion of Finland medal in 1999 by then president of Finland Martti Ahtisaari.


  1. ^ Vesa Sirén (28 May 2002). "Muhai Tang the unanimous choice at National Opera". Helsingin Sanomat. Archived from the original on 27 June 2008. Retrieved 30 March 2009.
  2. ^ Donal Henahan (29 April 1983). "Finnish Opera Offers Sallinen's Red Line". The New York Times. Retrieved 30 August 2009.
  3. ^ Andrew Clements (21 April 2006). "Sallinen: The King Goes Forth to France". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 August 2009.
  4. ^ "Okko Kamu to be principal conductor of the Lahti Symphony Orchestra from the autumn of 2011" (Press release). Sinfonia Lahti. 28 April 2009. Archived from the original on 19 July 2011. Retrieved 30 August 2009.
  5. ^ "Okko Kamu to continue as principal conductor of the Lahti Symphony Orchestra until 2016" (Press release). Sinfonia Lahti. 19 November 2012. Archived from the original on 26 April 2014. Retrieved 3 November 2013.
  6. ^ "Dima Slobodeniouk has been appointed as Principal Conductor of the Lahti Symphony Orchestra, starting in autumn 2016" (Press release). Sinfonia Lahti. 17 August 2015. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 25 August 2015.
  7. ^ Tim Page (6 January 1985). "New Disks Reveal the Individuality of Finnish Composers". The New York Times. Retrieved 30 August 2009.
  8. ^ George Jellinek (12 November 1989). "Sibelius, and Those Other Fellows From Finland". The New York Times. Retrieved 30 August 2009.
  9. ^ Raymond Ericson (22 December 1985). "Recordings Track Scandinavian Music". The New York Times. Retrieved 30 August 2009.

External linksEdit

Cultural offices
Preceded by
Paavo Berglund
Principal Conductor, Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra
Succeeded by
Leif Segerstam
Preceded by
Ulf Söderblom
Principal Conductor, Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra
Succeeded by
Sergiu Comissiona
Preceded by
Osmo Vänskä
Chief Conductor, Lahti Symphony Orchestra
Succeeded by
Dima Slobodeniouk