Warmest birthday wishes to Esa-Pekka Salonen, the lodestar of turn-of-the-century music, who turns fifty today. Swedish Radio celebrated this scarcely credible landmark with a gala concert on June 18, and has now put up video of the event (start with "önskekonsert 080621"). It's a must-see, not only for compelling performances by the likes of Karita Mattila, Anne Sofie von Otter, and Kari Kriikku but also for zany historical footage of the "långhårig," baby-faced Salonen during his tenure at the Swedish Radio Symphony (1984 to 1995). Some of the material seems to derive from a TV variety or comedy show; see also Flying Salonen and Cirkus Salonen in the video archive. The Ojai bunny dance was not an isolated incident, it turns out. Amid the silliness, you get a sense of how forcefully Salonen campaigned for contemporary music from the beginning; the opening montage suggests that he actually got Magnus Lindberg's ear-splitting Kraft on TV (see 3:20). One regret: I was hoping for a surprise cameo by S. Epatha Merkerson.
Photo: Micke Grönberg / Swedish Radio