Arvo Volmer

b. November 4, 1962, Tallinn

Arvo Volmer is one of the most acclaimed, widespread international recognition gained conductors in Estonia. He has been considered one of the foremost Sibelius and Mahler interpreters in the world and is highly regarded for his interpretations of Russian and German composers and contemporary music.

Arvo Volmer studied choral and orchestral conducting from 1980 to 1985 at the Tallinn State Conservatoire with Olev Oja and Roman Matsov. He continued his studies at the Leningrad Conservatoire with Ravil Martynov and graduated in 1990. In addition, he has participated in Helmuth Rilling’s master courses in the US. In 1989 he won the special prize and the 4th place at the International Nikolay Malko Conductors Competition.

Arvo Volmer began his conducting career in 1985 at the Estonian National Opera and from 1987, he was engaged by the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra (ENSO). Later he became the chief conductor and artistic director of the ENSO (1993–2001) and the chief conductor and artistic director of the Estonian National Opera (2004–2012). He has also been the conductor of the Estonian Academy of Music Symphony Orchestra (2000–2004). Outside Estonia, Volmer has held the position of the chief conductor and artistic director of the Oulu Symphony Orchestra in Finland (1994–2005), the chief conductor and artistic director of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra in Australia (2004–2013) and the music director of the Orchestra Haydn di Bolzano e Trento in Italy (2014–2020). In 2019 the Estonian National Opera welcomed him back as the chief conductor and artistic director.

Arvo Volmer has appeared as a guest conductor with the Tokyo NHK Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre National de Belgique, Orquestra Sinfônica do Estado de São Paulo, BBC Philharmonics, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, L’Orchestre National de France, Berlin Radio Orchestra, St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Copenhagen and Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestras, Malmo and Gothenburg National Symphony Orchestras and Stockholm’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and all the major Australian orchestras including Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. He regularly appears with orchestras in Germany, Holland, Switzerland, Portugal, Israel, Poland, Czech Republic, Scandinavia and the Baltic countries.

He has conducted operas and ballets in the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, the Finnish National Opera, the Norwegian Opera, German National Theatre Mannheim, Chemnitz Theatre, Georgian National Opera in Tbilisi, and Malmo Music Theatre among others.

Volmer has conducted ENSO on several festivals, such as EuropaMusicale in Munich (1993), Menuhin Festival in Gstaad (1997) and the Baltic Sea Festival in Stockholm. Under his conduction, the Estonian Academy of Music Symphony Orchestra participated in the Young Euro Classic Festival in Berlin (2002) and with Adelaide Symphony Orchestra in Sibelius Festival in Adelaide. He has also conducted different orchestras at Estonian music festivals, such as NYYD, Estonian Music Days, Tubin and his Time, Glasperlenspiel et al.

He has conducted the world premieres of several new works of music by Sven-David Sandström (Sweden), Olli Kortekangas (Finland) and Estonian composers like Eino Tamberg, Ester Mägi, Jaan Rääts, Erkki-Sven Tüür, Lepo Sumera, Raimo Kangro, Mati Kuulberg, Toivo Tulev, Mari Vihmand, René Eespere and others. In 2007, he conducted the premiere of Erkki-Sven Tüür’s opera Wallenberg, which was recorded on DVD in 2008 (ERP).

His artistic career includes a diverse recording history that includes Estonian and foreign music from the past to the present. The most significant recordings are those of Leevi Madetoja’s complete orchestral works with Oulu Symphony Orchestra (Alba Records, 1998–2000), the complete edition of Eduard Tubin’s symphonies with ENSO (5 CDs; Alba Records, 1999–2003), the first recording of Tubin’s ballet Goblin in 2005 (ENSO, Alba Records, 2005) and Cyrillus Kreek’s Requiem - a unique recording of the original version in Estonian, completed in 1927 (Alba Records, 2007). Volmer has also gained recognition with the CD of Ester Mägi’s orchestral music (Toccata Classic, 2007) which was chosen among the ten most outstanding new albums in 2007 by Gramophone Editor’s. In 2007, Volmer started with the recording of the complete edition of Jean Sibelius’s symphonies with Adelaide Symphony Orchestra (I CD, ABC Classics, 2007).

Arvo Volmer has led various musical activities in his home country, including the role of Music Director for the opening program of the 23rd Estonian Song Festival in 1999.

Arvo Volmer has received the Annual Prize of the Estonian Theatre Union in 1989, 2006 and 2009. In 2000, he was given the Annual Prize of Cultural Endowment of Estonia, in 2002 and 2007, the Estonia State Cultural Award, and in 2002, fourth class Order of the White Star of the Republic of Estonia.

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