Oulu Music Festival

Artistic Directors

Mari Palo

Mari Palo OMJ taiteellinen johtaja 2022

Mari Palo is one of the most sought-after Finnish sopranos both on domestic stages and international platforms. As a versatile artist, Palo has captivated audiences with her radiant presence across genres ranging from classical lied and opera repertoire to lighter music. 

Mari Palo began her vocal studies at the Central Ostrobothnia Conservatory and graduated with a master's degree in music from the Sibelius Academy. She has performed as a lied singer and as a soloist with orchestras around the world, and she is a popular guest at chamber music festivals. Palo has been a regular guest artist at the Finnish National Opera since 1999. In 2019, the President of Finland awarded Palo the Pro Finlandia Medal. 

Mari Palo started as the second artistic director of the Oulu Music Festival at the 2023 festival. Palo is responsible for planning the festival's classical music program.  

Kari Ikonen

Nimeton suunn.malli 20

Pianist-composer-moogist, Master of Music Kari Ikonen is one of the key figures in European jazz & improvised music scene. He is currently active as solo pianist, with Kari Ikonen Trio, duo with Louis Sclavis, duo with Fabrizio Cassol, Quartet Al-Qantara, and with several other Finnish and international bands like Wishamalii, Orchestra Nazionale della Luna, Quartet Ajaton and Trio Toffa. His debut album “Karikko” was awarded with Finland’s Grammy in 2001, and in 2013 he got the Yrjö Award as the Finnish Jazz Musician of the Year. 

Mr. Ikonen is also an inventor – the revolutionary Maqiano™ Microtuning System is allowng him and other pianists to explore with the Arabic maqamat and other microtones on acoustic piano. 

Kari Ikonen started as the second artistic director of the Oulu Music Festival at the 2024 festival. Ikonen designs the festival's program for rhythm music.