Petri Sakari was born in Helsinki and began to play the violin at an early age. He entered the Conservatory of Tampere at the age of 9 where he also studied the piano and the oboe. Sakari started to study conducting in 1974 and shortly afterwards went to study with prof. Jorma Panula at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki receiving his conducting diploma in 1981 as well as a diploma in violin, performing still regularly with various chamber ensembles.
He attended conducting master-classes with Murry Sidlin at Aspen Music School (USA), Franco Ferrara in Siena (Italy) and with Rafael Kubelik in Lucerne (Switzerland), soon putting conducting theory into practice by conducting the Tampere Conservatory Symphony Orchestra and opera productions at the Sibelius Academy.
From 1983 onwards Petri Sakari began to undertake professional engagements with various Finnish symphony orchestras, beginning with the Vaasa City Orchestra; this was followed by regular engagements with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Lahti Symphony Orchestra, the Turku Philharmonic Orchestra and the Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra.
Following successful appearances outside Finland Sakari was appointed chief conductor and music director of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra in 1988. With this orchestra he made highly acclaimed recordings of scandinavian music for Chandos lable and complete symphonies by Sibelius for Naxos lable.
From 1993 Sakari continued as the orchestra´s principal guest conductor. From 1996 to 1998 he worked again as the music director.
Sakari´s relationship with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra has remained intense throughout the years. In 2011 he conducted the opening concert of the new Reykjavik concert hall, Harpa.
Other positions that Petri Sakari has held include Lohja City orchestra, chief conductor 1993-99. Swedish Chamber Orchestra, principal guest conductor 1995-97. Gävle Symphony Orchestra, music director 2000-2004. Turku Philharmonic Orchestra, music director and chief conductor 2007-2011. With the orchestra in Turku Sakari has recorded for labels like Sony Classics and Alba.
As a guest Sakari has conducted major scandinavian orchestras like the Swedish and Danish Radio Symphony Orchestras. In Europe orchestras include Bonn Beethovenhalle, Stuttgart SWR RSO, Saarbrücken RSO, Kiel, Mannheim (Germany). RSO Wien (Austria), Basel, Bern, Winterthur, St. Gallen (Switzerland). Netherlands Radio Phil. Orch., Hague, Eindhoven, Arnhem (the Netherlands). Liège Phil. Orch. (Belgium). Luxembourg Phil. Orch. Strasbourg, Montpellier (France). BBC Wales, BBC Phil., Bournemouth SO (UK). National SO of Ireland. Spanish Radio and TV in Madrid, Sevilla, Valencia, La Coruna, Bilbao (Spain). Thessaloniki (Greece), Prague SO, Polish National RSO in Katowice, Budapest RSO, Bucharest RSO, Iasi Phil.Orch. (Rumania).
Sakari´s debut in Musikverein in Vienna got excellent press reviews, when he took over a concert with the RSO Wien at short notice in 2000. This led to several engagements both in Musikverein and Wiener Konzerthaus.
He has also conducted in Mexico City, Sao Paulo, Tokyo (New Japan Phil.) and Singapore as well as opera and ballet performances at the Finnish National Opera, Stockholm Royal Opera, Gothenburg Opera, Malmö Opera, Icelandic Opera and St. Gallen Stadtheater.
Petri Sakari has been awarded with the Knight´s Cross of the Icelandic Order of the Falcon.
Photo: Seilo Ristimäki