In 1983 conductors Esa-Pekka Salonen and Jukka-Pekka Saraste, and flautist Olli Pohjola came up with an idea of an ensemble that varies in size from a string quartet to a symphony orchestra, specializes in no particular genre, is flexible and open to all ideas. The outcome was Avanti! Chamber Orchestra, proud to be a specialist in all styles with a strong sense of responsibility for contemporary music.

Avanti! has had a tremendous influence on music in Finland. As the Finnish national daily newspaper Helsingin Sanomat once wrote, “Avanti! is like King Midas: anything it touches immediately turns to gold.” The orchestra’s first record was awarded the Gramophone. The next one prompted Fanfare to write: “Among such new groups here and abroad as Orpheus and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Avanti! has made a bid to be recognized as primus inter pares.”

Avanti!’s own festival, Suvisoitto – Summer Sounds, was established in 1986, in the second oldest Finnish town of Porvoo, 50 kilometers from Helsinki. For twenty years the Summersounds has given performances, loyally to the orchestra’s original idea, from both contemporary and standard repertoire, in a cavalcade nothing short of astounding.

Avanti! tours regularily all over the world and is an internationally well known ambassador of Finnish music. Many works by prominent Finnish composers, such as Esa-Pekka Salonen, Magnus Lindberg and Kaija Saariaho have got their first performances by Avanti!

The Artistic Director of Avanti! since November 1998 has been the Finnish clarinetist Kari Kriikku.