Finnish conductor Susanna Malkki will become only the third person ever appointed principal guest conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the orchestra is expected to announce on Wednesday.
This appointment, which will start with the 2017-18 season and will last three years, is auspicious given the two conductors who previously held the post are Simon Rattle (1981-1994), now the Berlin Philharmonic's artistic director, the most prestigious position in classical music, and Michael Tilson Thomas (1981-1985), now music director of the San Francisco Symphony.
Malkki also was recently appointed chief conductor of the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra. She first worked with the L.A. Phil in 2010 and has developed a strong relationship with the organization, conducting the 2015 presentation of Unsuk Chin's opera "Alice in Wonderland."
"I have been a musician for twenty years, and before Tuesday night, I had never seen a woman conduct a great orchestra. And unless you count the string teachers in my public schools, I've never worked with a woman conductor myself.
"So I suppose it makes sense that every time Malkki presided over a roaring crescendo during Tuesday night's Chicago Symphony concert, I felt a rush of unexpected emotion. Because, for all my years of playing, the sound of an orchestral crescendo has been associated with the sight of a man's body on the podium. For my entire life, the sounds of timpani and brass seemed to be born exclusively from the waving of a man's arms. But I now have living proof that this isn't the case. And it matters."