Juho Pohjonen, piano
Juho Pohjonen is regarded as one of today’s most exciting instrumentalists. The Finnish pianist performs widely in Europe, Asia, and North America, collaborating with symphony orchestras and playing in recital and chamber settings. An ardent exponent of Scandinavian music, Pohjonen has a growing discography which offers a showcase of compositions by such compatriots as Esa-Pekka Salonen and Kaija Saariaho.
In the 2019-2020 season, Pohjonen makes his Minnesota Orchestra debut, opening their season with performances of Grieg’s Piano Concerto conducted by Osmo Vänskä. Additional highlights include debuts with the New Jersey Symphony performing Grieg’s Piano Concerto conducted by Markus Stenz; with the Rochester Philharmonic performing Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with Fabien Gabel; and with the Orchestre Symphonique de Quebec performing Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 5 with Jean-Claude Picard. Pohjonen makes recital debuts at the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society and Steinway Society of the Bay Area and returns to give recitals in Howland, NY and New York City. Pohjonen’s chamber performance takes him to San Francisco Performances and Society of the Four Arts in Palm Beach with violinist Bomsori Kim, to Parlance Chamber Concerts with violinists Paul Huang and Danbi Um, and to Orange County and Santa Rosa, CA, with the Sibelius Trio. An alumnus of The Bowers Program (formerly CMS Two), Pohjonen enjoys an ongoing association with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, with whom he collaborates this season in New York’s Alice Tully Hall and Chicago’s Harris Theater.
In the 2018-2019 season, Pohjonen appeared as a soloist with the Nashville, Pacific, and Bay Atlantic Symphony Orchestras in Mozart’s Piano Concerto in A major, K. 488, and with the Duluth-Superior Symphony Orchestra in Brahms’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major, Op. 83. He performed Mozart’s Piano Concerto in A major, K. 414 with the Escher String Quartet in New York’s Alice Tully Hall and Chicago’s Harris Theater; he also performed with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in works by Prokofiev and Beethoven with violinist Angelo Xiang Yu, both in New York and on tour to Madison, NJ, and Chicago. Pohjonen joined members of the Calidore Quartet in Beethoven’s Piano Trio in G major, Op. 1, No. 2, at the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts in Vienna, VA. Other highlights of last season include a recital debut at the 92nd Street Y in New York, in which Pohjonen performed a program that features Scriabin’s Sonata No. 8 and Dichotomie by Salonen. Additional recitals took place in Alicante, Spain, and at the Lane Series of the University of Vermont, Music Toronto and at the Savannah Music Festival.
Pohjonen has previously appeared in recital at New York’s Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, and in San Francisco, La Jolla, Detroit, and Vancouver. He made his London debut at Wigmore Hall, and has performed recitals throughout Europe including in Antwerp, Hamburg, Helsinki, St. Petersburg, Warsaw. Festival appearances include Lucerne; Savonlinna Finland; Bergen, Norway; and Mecklenberg-Vorpommern in Germany, as well as the Gilmore Keyboard Festival. Pohjonen has performed as a soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Vancouver Symphony and Buffalo Philharmonic, and at the Mostly Mozart Festival, as well as with orchestras throughout Scandinavia, including the Danish National Symphony, the Finnish Radio Symphony, Helsinki Philharmonic, Avanti! Chamber Orchestra in Finland, and the Symphony Orchestras of the Swedish Radio and Mälmo. Additional concerto performances include the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa; Philharmonia, Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Bournemouth Symphony in the United Kingdom, Zagreb Philharmonic in Croatia; and a tour of Japan with the Lahti Symphony Orchestra. Pohjonen has collaborated with today’s foremost conductors, including Marin Alsop, Lionel Bringuier, Marek Janowski, Fabien Gabel, Kirill Karabits, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Markus Stenz, and Pinchas Zukerman, and has appeared on multiple occasions with the Atlanta Symphony and music director Robert Spano.
Pohjonen’s most recent recording with cellist Inbal Segev features cello sonatas by Chopin and Grieg, and Schumann’s Fantasiestücke, hallmarks of the Romantic repertoire. Plateaux, his debut recording on Dacapo Records, featured works by late Scandinavian composer Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen, including the solo piano suite For Piano, and piano concerto Plateaux pour Piano et Orchestre, with the Danish National Symphony Orchestra and conductor Ed Spanjaard. His recital at the Music@Menlo 2010 festival was recorded as part of the Music@Menlo Live series. Entitled Maps and Legends, the disc includes Mozart’s Sonata in A major, K. 331, Grieg’s Ballade in the form of Variations on a Norwegian Folk Song in G minor, Op. 24, and Handel’s Suite in B-flat Major. Pohjonen joins with violinist Petteri Iivonen and cellist Samuli Peltonen to form the Sibelius Trio, who released a recording on Yarlung Records in honor of Finland’s 1917 centennial of independence. The album, described by Stereophile as “a gorgeous debut,” included works by Sibelius and Kaija Saariaho.
Pohjonen began his piano studies in 1989 at the Junior Academy of the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, and subsequently earned a Master’s Degree from Meri Louhos and Hui-Ying Liu-Tawaststjerna at the Sibelius Academy in 2008. Pohjonen has participated in the master classes of distinguished pianists Sir András Schiff, Leon Fleisher, Jacob Lateiner, and Barry Douglas. Pohjonen was selected by Schiff as the winner of the 2009 Klavier Festival Ruhr Scholarship, and has won prizes at international and Finnish competitions, including first prize at the 2004 Nordic Piano Competition in Nyborg, Denmark; first prize at the 2000 International Young Artists Concerto Competition in Stockholm; a prize at the 2002 Helsinki International Maj Lind Piano Competition; and the Prokofiev Prize at the 2003 AXA Dublin International Piano Competition. In 2019 Pohjonen launched an app he developed for iOS, MyPianist, a practice tool for musicians that dynamically responds in real-time to tempi, phrasing, articulation, and more. It is available now on the Apple App Store.