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Eri Klas

Eri Klas, a native of Estonia whose greatest musical influence was David Oistrakh, a great friend of his family, frequently guest conducts on the North American continent.

Mr. Klas made his US debut in 1991 with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl. In 1995, he made his debuts with the Cleveland Orchestra and the Chicago Symphony following highly successfully appearances at the Blossom and Ravinia festivals. Since then, he has appeared with most of the major North American orchestras including the Boston, Atlanta, Cincinnati, Dallas, Detroit, Montreal, National, Seattle and Saint Louis symphonies and the Minnesota Orchestra.

Equally in demand throughout Europe, Mr. Klas is currently the Principal Guest Conductor of the Netherlands Radio Symphony Orchestra; Artistic Director of the Tampere Philharmonic in Finland and the Tallinn Philharmonic in Estonia; and Principal Guest Conductor of the Finnish National Opera; and Music Advisor of the Moscow New Opera. He has guest conducted the Berlin, Munich and Rotterdam Philharmonics and appears regularly with the Tonhalle Orchestra, the Swedish and Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestras, the Stockholm and Helsinki Philharmonics as well as with orchestras in France, Italy, Belgium, Russia and Australia.

Recent and upcoming engagements in Mr. Klas' North American schedule include guest appearances with the St. Louis, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Baltimore, Milwaukee, Vancouver and New Jersey symphonies and the Calgary Philharmonic. During the 2005/06 season, he leads the Houston, Utah and Oregon symphonies as well as the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa and returns to the Hollywood Bowl. In addition to his work in the Netherlands, Finland and Estonia, recent and upcoming engagements in Europe and Asia include orchestral concerts and opera productions in Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Japan and Russia in St. Petersburg and with the Bolshoi Opera Orchestra in Moscow.

Eri Klas is closely associated with leading contemporary composers. He conducted the world premiere of Alfred Schnittke's Per Gynt at the Hamburg Opera and the Royal Opera House in Stockholm, and collaborated with Natalia Gutman performing the world premiere of Schnittke's First Cello Concerto with the Munich Philharmonic. A great champion of Estonian composers, he has conducted world premieres of works by Pärt, Tamberg, Tormis, Tubin and Eller, whose compositions he also often introduces in the US. In addition, Mr. Klas conducted the first performance of Henryk Gorecki's Flute Concerto in Amsterdam and the US premiere of the same work with the Chicago Symphony. His discography includes Schnittke's Third Symphony, ballet music from Per Gynt and Four Violin Concerti as well as works by Sibelius on the BIS and Ondine labels. Ms. Klas' most recent release is a CD of Orchestral works by John Corigliano with the Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra for Ondine.

Eri Klas began his conducting studies at the Tallinn Conservatory and upon graduation went to St. Petersburg (then Leningrad) to work with Nikolai Rabinovich. He made his debut at the Estonian National Theatre in Tallinn in 1964 conducting Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story. In 1969, he was appointed assistant conductor at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow and for the next 12 years appeared regularly on the podium to conduct the famed Bolshoi orchestra, taking part in numerous opera, ballet and orchestral productions in Moscow and on tours throughout Europe. He was named Music Director in 1975 of the Estonian National Theatre and has since become conductor laureate. Between 1985 and 1990, he was Music Director of the Royal Opera in Stockholm.

Greatly interested in the education of young musicians, Mr. Klas has worked with many international youth orchestras. He has conducted the Estonian Youth Orchestra and the Sibelius Academy Orchestra numerous times, including a tour to China with the latter. In addition, he has worked with the Irish Youth Orchestra and led the Asian Youth Orchestra on tour throughout Asia and Europe with Gidon Kremer as soloist. Mr. Klas was also a professor of conducting at the Sibelius Academy from 1993-1997.

Mr. Klas has been awarded the Order of "Nordstjernen" from His Majesty King Carl Gustav of Sweden, the Order of Finnish Lion and an honorary doctorate from the Estonian Music Academy. A former Estonian light-weight junior boxing champion, he is a member of the Estonian International Olympic Committee, Chairman of the Estonian Cultural Committee and a Goodwill Ambassador for the UNICEF.