This week’s Cultural Personality is the Chief Conductor of Oulu Symphony Orchestra, Rumon Gamba, who says that his name is a rather unusual name for an Englishman.
–rare Cornish first name, Italian second name.
A lifetime of playing and studying music has lead him to where he is now, from a young cello student via University Music Degree and Postgrad Diploma in Orchestral conducting to conducting countless orchestras all around the world for the past 25 years.
What projects are you working on now?
I travel a great deal guest conducting orchestras, usually for a week at a time but my biggest project at the moment is working as Chief Conductor here in Oulu. Overseeing the artistic aspects of the orchestra, musicians, planning and trying to build an interesting programme for the public so they feel drawn to our concerts and become part of what we are trying to do.
What does Culture Climate Change mean to you?
In my profession we are always talking about ‘breaking down barriers’, making what we do relevant and inspiring for absolutely everyone. Let’s blur those lines of separation, let’s not allow anything to become compartmentalised.
What do you think about Oulu and North Finland?
I love the energy of Oulu, such a wonderful mix of people both in age and cultures. People seem very open-minded and are willing to sample different things. I like how the city seems to feel comfortable in its own skin without too many glances towards the South…
How does Oulu look like to you in 2026?
It looks like a mountain of possibilities – hopefully an expanded/heightened version of what it is now, but even more connected. No separate islands, everything relating to each other and feeding from each other.
If you think of Oulu and its region as a visitor, what would you like to experience while here?
I think I would like to experience something quite different from where I come from. The nature, emptiness of the countryside, vast expanses of water, regional food and folk culture.
What is your favourite thing to do on your free-time here in Oulu?
Walking/running in areas of natural beauty where there is no one else around and….silence!
What does culture and music mean to you?
Music and culture in general is what I am built from, it’s deep in my DNA and is affecting how I go about my life, how I am as a person, what I gravitate towards, how I feel, what I am drawn to, the decisions I take and which direction to go in. I wish everyone could feel this connection so deeply.
What are your plans and hopes for the future in professionally?
I’m always looking how to deepen my relationship with music and musicians, to communicate with the utmost expression to as many people as possible, without words, just music.
Picture: Oulu Symphony
Previous Cultural Personalities