Kaapo Ijas Biography
For as long as he can remember, conductor Kaapo Ijas (*1988) has had an insatiable passion for music. Having initially started as a clarinettist, Ijas soon began composing music of his own, and over the intervening years, he has written music in all manner of different genres and has performed with orchestras, bands, and in the pits of many a theatre too. Ijas’s diverse musical background shines through in the sheer breadth of his musical interests and the richness of ideas in the many concerts and productions he conducts. He has a particular affinity for the dramatic scope of opera, the seamless union of music and theatre, and the sense of community unique to large-scale productions. In addition to playing and composing, Ijas has always been interested in performance and stage arts too, and he thrives on the magic that group dynamics can bring about – in his own words, “the shared act of breathing art and music”.
This thirst for an ever deeper understanding of the fundamentals of music eventually led Kaapo Ijas to begin studying the art of orchestral conducting, first at the Sibelius Academy, then at Zurich University of the Arts, and finally at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm, where he graduated with a master’s degree in the spring of 2017. In 2019, Ijas was selected from over 200 applicants and appointed to the position of young conductor (Mills Williams Junior Fellow in Conducting) at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. During the course of this two-year position in England, he also completed an International Artist Diploma. Before securing the Junior Fellowship, a position that is highly sought-after among young, up-and-coming conductors, he attended numerous international masterclasses where he had the opportunity to study with illustrious maestros including Ricardo Muti, Johannes Schlaefli, Jaap van Zweden, David Zinman, Neeme and Paavo Järvi, Esa-Pekka Salonen and Jorma Panula.
Ijas is a fearless musician who is not afraid of getting his hands dirty: at the very beginning of his conducting studies, he reached the semi-finals of the Donatella Flick Conducting Competition, after being invited to participate only two weeks in advance. In 2018, Ijas was one of 24 conductors selected from a total of 588 applicants and invited to take part in the Malko Competition in Copenhagen, Denmark. That same year, Ijas took third prize at the Jorma Panula Conducting Competition in Vaasa, Finland.
Opera is a great passion of Ijas. Latest productions include Armi (Eeva Kontu, Ilmajoen Musiikkijuhlat), Ihmiset Suviyössä (Paavo Korpijaakko, Hämeenkyrön FEStiwaalit), Last Temptations (Joonas Kokkonen, Teatro Productions) and OperaBoxin productions Muumin-opera (Ilkka Kuusisto), L’Heure Espagnole (Maurice Ravel), Le Pauvre Matelot (Darius Milhaud) and Nemuru Otoko (Eetu Ranta-Aho). Ijas has also served as assistant conductor in numerous opera productions, notably Aida (Royal Swedish Opera, Stockholm, under chief conductor Pier Giorgio Morandi) and Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny (NorrlandsOpera, Umeå, under chief conductor Damian Iorio) and Cunning Little Vixen (RNCM Opera, under chief conductor Nicholas Kok).
During season 2021-22, Ijas has made successful debuts with many world-class orchestras including the Finnish Radio Symphony, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Turku Philharmonic, and Polish National Radio SO (NOSPR). Next season Ijas will return to Liverpool Philharmonic and make his debut at Volksoper Vienna.