The Finnish guitarist, Ismo Eskelinen, studied with Oscar Ghiglia, Timo Korhonen and the pianist Ralf Gothóni and on master-classes with Manuel Barrueco, Oscar Ghiglia and Leo Brouwer. His career began when he was 17, spurred on by many prizes (the Scandinavian Guitar Competition, Gargnano, the Leo Brouwer Prize, the Guitar Foundation of America, Printemps de la Guitare).
His repertoire spans music from the 16th century to the present day and he has been equally acclaimed for his performances of J.S. Bach as for his premieres of works by composers such as Rautavaara, Sallinen, Tiensuu, Olli Mustonen and Fagerlund. Many leading contemporary composers (such as Arvo Pärt, Peteris Vasks, Leo Brouwer and Jouni Kaipainen) have praised him for his intensive readings of their works.
His appearances have taken Eskelinen to venues such as the Berlin Philharmonic, Concertgebouw Amsterdam, the Royal Festival Hall, the Théâtre de la Monnaie, Finlandia Hall and the Sibelius Hall. He has performed extensively all over the world, with conductors such as Sakari Oramo, Hannu Lintu, Ernest Martínez-Izquierdo and Okko Kamu with orchestras like the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Tapiola Sinfonietta, Lahti Symphony, Tampere Philharmonic, Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra, Sinfonieorchester Basel, Wallonian Chamber Orchestra (Brussels), Stringendo chamber orchestra (Paris), Chamber Orchestra of Lapland, Virtuosi di Kuhmo, Avanti! Chamber Orchestra. His concerto appearances include televised premiers of concertos written for him by Jukka Tiensuu and a Finnish premiere of Tan Dun concerto.
Ismo Eskelinen is extremely popular on music festivals all over the world. Among his numerous partners in chamber music are violinists Pekka Kuusisto, Baiba Skride, Massimo Quarta, cellist Jan Vogler and violist Vladimir Mendelssohn. In 1999 he was a young artist of the year at Mikkeli Music Festival directed by conductor Valery Gergiev. He has been the first ever guitarist to be invited to the Moritzburg and Charlottesville Music Festivals. The prestigious Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival awarded him their medal for outstanding musicians, as the only guitarist ever. During the 2003-2004 season he appeared weekly in a popular current events programme on Finland’s main TV channel reaching up to 500,000 viewers every week.
Ismo Eskelinen’s succesfull albums for Ondine and Alba include solo, concerto and chamber works by Ponce, de Falla, José, Mompou, Rodrigo, Arvo Pärt, Vasks, Takemitsu, Francesconi, Rautavaara and Miki. The latest CD is Paganini duos with the violinist Pekka Kuusisto. Next release will be of works by J.S. Bach.
Ismo Eskelinen teaches at the Sibelius-Academy in Helsinki and is an artistic director of Sonkajarvi Soi festival.