The ESTONIAN NATIONAL SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA (known in Estonian as Eesti Riiklik Sümfooniaorkester or ERSO) is the longest continually operating professional orchestra of its kind in the country. The orchestra’s history dates back to 1926 and, like that of many other world orchestras, is connected to the birth of national broadcasting. Since 2010 it has been led by principal conductor and artistic director Neeme Järvi, while Paavo Järvi has been its artistic advisor since 2002, and Olari Elts its principal guest conductor since 2007.
The quality of ERSO’s recordings has been praised in renowned classical music magazines and been rewarded with a number of prizes, the biggest of which was a Grammy in 2004 for its Sibelius cantatas (Ellerhein Girls’ Choir, Estonian National Male Choir & ERSO conducted by Paavo Järvi; released on Virgin Classics).
ERSO has toured in Scandinavia, elsewhere in Europe, the United States and the former Soviet Union. ERSO not only works with Estonian musicians, but also well-known foreign conductors and soloists. Its repertoire ranges from baroque music to premieres of contemporary works. The orchestra has performed symphonic pieces by virtually every Estonian composer, including Arvo Pärt, Erkki-Sven Tüür, Eduard Tubin, Eino Tamberg, Jaan Rääts, Lepo Sumera, Tõnu Kõrvits and Helena Tulve, often being the first to do so.