Praised for “artistic and interpretive bravery”, Aku Sorensen (b. 1997) is a Finnish American conductor and violinist, born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area of California and currently based Helsinki, Finland.
A very active orchestral musician, Aku has played in and led countless orchestras. Recent seasons have included time in the Lapland Chamber Orchestra, Vaasa City Orchestra, Sibelius Academy Symphony Orchestra, Sibelius Academy Chamber Orchestra, and San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra, to name a few. Aku is a founder of the Helsinki Chamber Orchestra, a semi-professional orchestra that operates on democratic principles. He currently serves as the ensemble’s concertmaster.
Aku is a major advocate for contemporary music, frequently performing premieres of new works by young composers, as well as serving as the Assistant Producer of the NYKY modern music ensemble. Also an avid chamber musician, Aku has performed in numerous chamber ensembles, including nearly 5 years as first violinist of the award winning “This End Up” string quartet. He has performed in masterclasses and side by side concerts with such luminaries as the Alban Berg, St. Lawrence, Borromeo, and Escher String Quartets. Aku also finds great joy in helping instill a love of music in the next generation and has previously served on the chamber music faculty of the Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra Chamber Music Intensive and the Crowden Young Musician’s Chamber Music Workshop.
As a young conductor, Aku has conducted numerous concerts both in the United States and Europe. A close relationship with the Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra led Aku to conduct the Senior orchestra on their tour of the United States West Coast and Italy, and to serve as the principal guest conductor of the Sinfonia orchestra during the 2014-2015 season when he was only 17 years old. He served as the musical director of the SCHS Theater Department from 2012-2014, where he conducted numerous musical theater productions. He also served as the conductor of the Crowden Music Center YMCMW senior orchestra during their 2017 festival. The current season features engagements with the Jyväskylä Sinfonia and Sibelius Academy Sinfonietta.
Aku sees bringing music outside of cultural centers as critically important to the future of classical music. In addition to frequent audience education projects partaken with his colleagues, Aku is the artistic director of the Kuusikko Soi festival, a festival based in Sodankylä, Finland. There, he works to bring house concerts to small villages in the area, as well as larger concerts with established artists to the small city over 100 km north of the arctic circle.
Aku is now pursuing a master’s degree in conducting at the Sibelius Academy of the University of the Arts, under the tutelage of Sakari Oramo and Hannu Lintu. The 2019-2020 season includes masterclasses with conductors such as Jorma Panula, Johannes Schaefli, Sir Robert Norrington, Peter Eötvös, and others.
Aku holds a Bachelor’s of Music from the Sibelius Academy in violin performance, completed under the guidance of Merit Palas.
Photos by Mario Ramirez, Heikki Tuuli, and Petteri Järvinen