From Amateurs to the Largest Pops Orchestra in Finland

The story of Vantaa Pops Orchestra began in 1948 in Tikkurila with the founding of Vantaa Orchestra, a registered, non-profit organisation consisting of company workers, established by staff of a Helsinki car body manufacturer with the support of their manager. Soon staff from other local businesses joined in. In 1950, Tikkurilan Orkesteriyhdistys ry (Tikkurila Orchestral Association) was founded, and even the local government supported its activities to some extent.

The year 1987 was a significant one for the orchestra. That year its home concert hall, Martinus, was completed and the collaboration agreement between the city and the orchestra guaranteed operating grants from the city.

In 1988 the orchestra made a policy choice: it decided to identify as a pops orchestra. The reason was that there were already three symphony orchestras in the capital region performing classical music, but no large pops orchestra.

Markku Johansson was invited as the Principal Conductor, and the orchestra was marketed with a name Vantaa POPS (Vantaa Pops Orchestra). Finland’s first symphony orchestra specialising in popular music provided a new alternative to music lovers, who did not care much for classical music, but still wanted to enjoy high quality orchestral music.

With Markku Johansson and a few of his musician colleagues the amateur orchestra began to develop into a professional and high-quality pops orchestra, which approached popular music with the same ambition and appreciation as the symphony orchestras approached classical music.

Markku Johansson’s term was completed at the end of 2009 and he was appointed as the Conductor Laureate of Vantaa POPS in 2010. Since 2011, the conductor’s baton has been held by Nick Davies, a Welshman.

Vantaa Pops Orchestra has become known as an extremely high-quality and versatile orchestra, where the players are at the top of their class both in Finland and overseas. The trademarks of the Orchestra are broad-mindedness, glamour and the great sound – without forgetting the brilliant soloists.

In 2012, the Orchestra had 175 members of which approximately 70 were active.