The Avanti! Chamber Orchestra was founded in 1983 on the initiative of Esa-Pekka Salonen, Olli Pohjola and Jukka-Pekka Saraste. Its Artistic Director since 1998 has been clarinettist Kari Kriikku.
An ensemble consisting of anything from a single player to a symphony orchestra, Avanti! operates freely over different eras and genres, though with a strong emphasis on contemporary music. It works in close partnership with front-line international conductors, soloists and composers such as Oliver Knussen, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Kaija Saariaho, Susanna Mälkki, Emmanuel Ax, John Storgårds, Hannu Lintu, Barbara Hannigan, Pekka Kuusisto, Matthias Pintscher, Uri Caine and Django Bates.
The winner of many prizes and widespread acclaim from audiences and critics alike, Avanti! is a major factor in the Finnish musical arena. Avanti! runs a concert series of its own in its home city Helsinki and tours regularly around the world. The orchestra has released discs on the Alba, BIS, Ondine and other labels.
Avanti!’s music festival has been held since 1986. Each year it focuses on an international guest composer, thus forging a living link with contemporary music and winning it an established place among Finland’s unique summer festivals