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With generous phrasing and great vigor but without sentimentality, she gave new life to an overplayed symphony. The Royal Philharmonic played with gusto, to well-deserved fanfare. Svenska Dagbladet
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 will make 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 returns to the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, continues her Beethoven symphony cycle with the Jönköping Sinfonietta, and conducts 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.
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Both of the Wiener Symphoniker’s factory expeditions were led by the Finnish conductor Eva Ollikainen with great dedication and charisma. The harmony between her and the musicians was evident, although this was only their first collaboration together – although it is conceivable that this could just be the beginning of their work together.
Wiener Zeitung, 7 May 2018, Viktoria Klimpfinger
Unsentimentally, yet with generous phrasing that surges like the tide, she made great music from this somewhat overworked symphony. The enthusiastic Royal Philharmonic gave her a well-earned fanfare.
Svenska Dagbladet, 10 October 2006, Sofia Nyblom (Tchaikovsky No. 5)
How they managed to achieve such a transparent sound, paired with weight, liveliness and precision, is a mystery to me. The performance was absolutely outstanding. She presented Beethoven as a rhythmic composer, with springy dotted rhythms in the first movement and a clearly-defined Allegretto theme. The following movement, usually presented sentimentally, was luminous and profound. The nymphs danced lightly in the Scherzo – a motion which escalated quickly to a Dionysian frenzy in the Finale. Excellent! The audience was blown away.
Svenska Dagbladet, 22 October 2009, Lars Hedblad (Beethoven No. 7)