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The Tapiola Sinfonietta is one of the exceptionally large number of top orchestral ensembles that flourish in Finland, five and a half million souls strong.
It is the municipal orchestra of the city of Espoo; Tapiola is a district of that city, and the orchestra is based at Tapiola Hall in the Espoo Cultural Center.
The Tapiola Sinfonietta was founded in 1987. With 41 members, the group applied itself at the beginning to Viennese Classical-era repertory, performing this music with an ensemble approaching the size originally used. As the orchestra's successes grew, however, the repertory has broadened to include Scandinavian works, contemporary music, and more. The group's municipal functions are strong, including performances for school groups and in senior citizen housing complexes, but it has also made numerous foreign tours.
The Tapiola Sinfonietta has proven to be an unusually reliable launchpad for international conducting careers. Its artistic directors have included Jorma Panula, Osmo Vänskä, and violinist-conductor Jean-Jacques Kantorow, who was music director from 1993 to 2006 and, according to the orchestra, "was of decisive importance to the shaping of the orchestra's current sound. Guest conductors have included Paavo Berglund, Hannu Lintu, Leif Segerstam, Masaaki Suzuki, and Olari Elts. It is also notable that the orchestra's membership has been quite stable, enabling the group to perform frequently without any conductor at all.
By 1997, the Tapiola Sinfonietta had begun to attract the attention of top classical labels. It issued its debut that year on BIS, featuring music by Uuno Klami. The orchestra has recorded often for both Sweden's BIS and Finland's Ondine labels. It has recorded premieres of works by Einojuhani Rautavaara, Kaija Saariaho, and Magnus Lindberg. As of the late 2010s, the Tapiola Sinfonietta had released some 70 recordings. The year 2017 saw the release of a pair of recordings: the orchestra joined pianist Yevgeny Sudbin for a recording of Beethoven's first two piano concertos, and it was featured, along with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, on a recording of works by Canadian-Finnish composer Matthew Whittall.