Olari Elts
© Marco BorggreveArtist

„His reading of Beethoven's First Symphony was packed with personality.“

The Birmingham Post
6 / 23


Olari Elts’s passion for distinctive programming rich with invention has earned him much praise on the international music scene. He appears with orchestras such as Seattle Symphony, Wiener Symphoniker, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, NDR Sinfonieorchester Hamburg, SWR Radio-Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart, Staatskapelle Weimar, Finnish Radio and Danish National symphony orchestras, Netherland Radio Philharmonic, Orchestre National de Lyon, Orquesta Sinfonica do Porto Casa da Musica, Yomiuri Nippon Symphony, Malaysian Philharmonic and Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.

In 2016/17 season Olari makes his debut with Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, also conducting Orchestre National de Radio France (Paris Presence festival), Seattle Symphony, National Arts Orchestra Ottawa (including the world premiere of Gary Kulesha’s Diary of Virginia Woolf). Further guest conducting includes concerts with Helsinki Philharmonic, Weimar Staatskapelle, Latvian National Symphony Orchestra, Orquesta Sinfonica do Porto Casa da Musica, Lahti Symphony Orchestra and Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra.

Olari Elts is also well known for his work with chamber ensembles earning high praise for concerts last season with Scottish Chamber Orchestra. This season sees the continuation of his recording project of works Erkki-Sven Tüür with Tapiola Sinfonietta including the viola concerto with Lawrence Power. Soloists with whom he collaborates include Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, Olli Mustonen, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Simon Trpceski, Stephen Hough, Isabelle Faust, Baiba Skride, Gautier and Renaud Capuçon, Sol Gabetta, Alban Gerhardt, Kari Kriikku, Martin Grubinger, Sally Matthews and Lilli Paasikivi.

In the opera field, Elts has successfully led a new production of Eugene Onegin for Arctic Opera taking it on tour through Norway in February 2015. He has led several productions at the Estonian National Opera, including Britten’s Albert Herring and Puccini’s Il Trittico, as well as Mozart’s Don Giovanni and Idomeneo with both Latvian and Estonian National Symphony Orchestra. He has conducted Berlioz’s La Damnation du Faust at the Opéra de Rennes in 2010.

Elts’s passion for fellow Estonian Erkki-Sven Tüür’s music was marked by the release of an all-Tüür recording in 2014 including Symphony No. 5 for electric guitar, orchestra, big band and the accordion concerto Prophecy (Ondine).

Olari Elts continues as the Principal Guest Conductor of the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra. Positions he has previously held include Principal Guest Conductor of the Helsinki Philharmonic from 2011-2014, Principal Guest of the Orchestre de Bretagne from 2006-2011, Principal Guest Conductor of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra from 2007-2010, Principal Conductor of the Latvian National Symphony Orchestra from 2001-2006. Born in Tallinn in 1971, Olari Elts is founder of his contemporary music ensemble, NYYD Ensemble.

SEASON 2016/2017


“Elts’ conducting can be flamboyant at the same time as being meticulously precise. [...] The result in Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances had intensity and color, decisiveness and vigor, allied with the same sensitivity which pervaded the Rhapsody, plus fine work from the alto saxophone in the first movement.”

The SunBreak, Philippa Kiraly, 17.04.2017

“There’s an irresistible energy and joy in Elts’ conducting style; he leaps about the podium, sweeping his arms and hands in enthusiastic but exquisitely clear, focused gestures. His gift for revealing inner structures gave the symphony a fresh, living dimensionality.”

Artsfile Ottawa, Natasha Gauthier, 30.03.2017

“What made it really special was Elts’s remarkable handling of the orchestral texture, exquisitely balanced to revealing effect, so that you heard things you’d swear were never there before – but thankfully, never feeling in the slightest calculated.”

The Scotsman, David Kettle, 11.04.2016

“Olari Elts is a regular collaborator with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, but it hasn’t meant that he has ended up doing things out of habit. Quite the reverse. He approached Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony as though it was being played for the first time, with sparkling energy, clear articulation and a sense of narrative drive that rendered the whole thing sort of unarguable.”

Seen and Heard International, Simon Thompson, 08.04.2016

“Olari Elts went on to sculpt Shostakovich's Tenth Symphony in big, sweeping gestures and a positively lurid palette of orchestral colours. [...] This was broad-brush Shostakovich, thrillingly physical and reeking of vodka and boot-leather. The ending drew cheers.”

Birmingham Post, Richard Bratby, 05.02.2016

“Elts guided an inspired Seattle Symphony orchestra with the precision of an artisan, arising new and surprising nuances from Haydn´s music.”

Opera World, Carlos J. Lopez, 23.01.2016

“The true star of the show, though, was Estonian conductor Olari Elts, who rather magically managed to conjure quite analytical, microscopically detailed performances that still sparkled with spontaneity and fresh, vivid life.”

The Scotsman, David Kettle, 11.05.2015

Go back


Brahms-GlanertBrahms-Glanert: Four Preludes and Serious Songs, Detlev Glanert: Weites Land, Brahms-Berio: Op. 120 No. 1Jan. 2017, Ondine, CD, Available on: iTunes Amazon
Erkki-Sven Tüür: Symphony No. 5Sep. 2014, Ondine, CD, Available on: iTunes Amazon
Erkki-Sven Tüür: OxymoronOlari Elts leading NYYD Ensemble and Estonian National Symphony Orchestra in recordings of pre-eminent Estonian composer Erkki-Sven TüürMar. 2007, ECM Records, CD, Available on: iTunes Amazon
Eesti Heliloojad - Estonian Composers IOlari Elts with works by Eesti HeliloojadOct. 2001, Eesti Raadio, CD
Nüüd NowOlari Elts with the NYYD Ensemble and works by Estonian composersMar. 2001, Elwood Muusik, CD