The Finnish conductor, Sakari Markus Oramo, started his career as a violinist and concertmaster of the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra. In 1989, he enrolled in Jorma Panula's conducting class at the Sibelius Academy. In 1993, just one year after completing the course, he stood in for a sick conductor with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra. This success led to his appointment as Co-Principal Conductor. Oramo has also worked with Finland's Avanti! ensemble. From 2003 to 2012, he was sole Principal Conductor of the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra. He has now served as their Honorary Conductor since He became Principal Guest Conductor of the Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra in 1995, and one of its principal conductors in 2009. In 2013, he became the orchestra's Artistic Director.
In September 1996, Sakari Oramo was named Principal Conductor of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO), having conducted the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in two concerts prior to that appointment. He then assumed the post as Music Director and Artistic Advisor in 1998. His work in Birmingham included the Floof! festival of contemporary music. He also championed the music of John Foulds in concerts and recordings with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. He was at the forefront of the Edward Elgar sesquicentenary celebrations in 2007, and was awarded the Elgar Medal in 2008 for his efforts in advancing Elgar's music. In 2008, he stepped down as the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra's Music Director and became the orchestra's Principal Guest Conductor for the 2008-2009 season.
In April 2007, Sakari Oramo was one of eight conductors of British orchestras to endorse the 10-year classical music outreach manifesto, "Building on Excellence: Orchestras for the 21st Century", to increase the presence of classical music in the UK, including giving free entry to all British schoolchildren to a classical music concert. In addition to his conducting and recording work, he has also published newspaper articles on music.
In September 2008, Sakari Oramo became Chief Conductor and Artistic Advisor of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra. His initial contract in Stockholm was for three years. With the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, he has recorded symphonies of Robert Schumann. In 2011, his contract with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra was extended through 2015. His current contract with the orchestra is through 2018. He has made commercial recordings with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra for such labels as BIS.
In October 2011, Sakari Oramo made his first guest conducting appearance with the BBC Symphony Orchestra (BBC SO), his first guest-conducting engagement with any London orchestra. On the basis of this concert, in February 2012, Oramo was named the 13th Chief Conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, effective with the First Night of the 2013 Proms season. His initial contract was for 3 years, with a pending subsequent option for an additional 2 years. Oramo held the title of Chief Conductor Designate for the 2012-2013 season. In September 2015, the BBC Symphony Orchestra announced the extension of his contract through the 2019-2020 season. He is a regular guest conductor at the NDR Sinfonieorchester Hamburg and Wiener Philharmoniker.
The 2014-205 season included performances with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, concerts with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra and a performance with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin. In celebration of Sibelius and Nielsenís 150th birthdays he worked with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra in curating the worldís largest Sibelius/Nielsen festival, performing with them in three landmark concerts (including the opening and grand finale). He also conducted the BBC Symphony Orchestra in their critically acclaimed Nielsen cycle, which saw them perform all of Nielsenís symphonies at Londonís Barbican Hall, with The Guardian commenting that the cycle "has turned out to be one of the highlights of the current London season." During the summer of 2015 he conducted several Proms performances with the orchestra, including the First Night, following his hugely successful performance at the Last Night in 2014.
His work with the BBC Symphony Orchestra in the 2015-2016 season continues to champion the promotion of new works with UK Premieres of Normanís Percussion Concerto, Switch, and Clyneís Violin Concerto, The Seamstress; presented alongside the major works of Richard Strauss in the autumn and E. Elgar's Symphonies in the spring. Other highlights of the season include a European tour with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra and Lisa Batiashvili; a Sibelius cycle with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe at the Turku Festival and concerts with the Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia.
An accomplished violinist, Sakari Oramo gives several performances a year as a violinist. In 2014 he made his debut in the BBC Proms Chamber Music series, performing Prokofievís Sonata for Two Violins with Janine Jansen.
Sakari Oramo is married to the Finnish soprano Anu Komsi, and they have two sons, Taavi and Leevi. In May 2009, he was awarded an honorary OBE for services to music in Birmingham. Oramo and Komsi, together with Annika Mylläri and Robert McLoud, founded West Coast Kokkola Opera in 2004. Oramo currently serves as its vice chairman and principal conductor.
Sakari Oramo has recorded commercially with the BBC Symphony Orchestra with such labels as Harmonia Mundi. Recent recording successes include Griegís Piano Concerto with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Javier Perianes and NørgŚråís Symphonies Nos.1 & 8 with Wiener Philharmoniker. He has recently released three discs of Nielsen symphonies with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra which together complete their highly acclaimed Nielsen cycle.