Photo: Simon Fowler

Susanna Mälkki (FI)

The winner

Susanna Mälkki is a versatile and dedicated maestra of both the classical and contemporary repertoire. Having forged her own path through the world of classical music, she now ranks among the top international conductors.

Mälkki explores and expands the sound and sonic colours of every work she conducts. She reinterprets masterpieces of the traditional music canon with an original and contemporary approach, often surprising the listener with fresh new details and soundscapes. 

Once a successful cellist, Mälkki draws on that experience with consummate skill in her work as a conductor. For her, conducting is all about working with both the musicians and the composers.

As Chief Conductor of the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, Principal Guest Conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, a regular guest conductor at the highest level all over the world and a champion of contemporary Nordic music, Mälkki endows conducting with fresh energy and new perspectives, concentrating on the one thing that really matters – the music. All in all, Susanna is an inspiring and innovative role model and extremely important to the future of classical and contemporary music.

“Excellent, brilliant, charismatic [...]

A conductor who has both exquisite taste and a phenomenal sense of control […]

Mälkki has an uncommon ability to create the appropriate sound picture around every score she conducts” – just a small taste of the glowing praise heaped on conductor Susanna Mälkki by distinguished reviewers, including in The Observer and Chicago Tribune.


Mälkki’s versatility and broad command of repertoire have led to her conducting symphony and chamber orchestras, contemporary music ensembles and operas all over the world. Recently appointed Chief Conductor of the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, she takes up the baton as Principal Guest Conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic in autumn 2017,  a position she currently holds with the Orquestra Gulbenkian. She is also a former Music Director with the Ensemble intercontemporain.


Prior to taking up conducting, Mälkki had a successful career as a cellist. She was named Conductor of the Year 2017 by Musical America.