Arto Noras, Founder and Artistic Director of the Naantali Music Festival and the International Paulo Cello Competition, is one of Finland's most celebrated performers and among the world’s most outstanding cellists. He is known as an expressive and technically brilliant soloist as well as an intense and sensitive chamber musician.
Following studies with Professor Yrjo Selin at the Sibelius Academy, Arto Noras went on to work with Paul Tortelier at the Paris Conservatoire where he received the coveted Premier Prix diploma in 1964. Two years later he was awarded second prize in the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, which launched an international career that has brought appearances at the most important concert halls of Europe, Asia and both North and South America where he has performed regularly ever since. He was awarded Denmark’s Sonning Prize in 1967 and the Finnish State Music Prize in 1972.
Arto Noras' repertoire covers all the principal works composed for his instrument, including those by contemporary composers, works he has recorded extensively for the Finlandia label (Warner). His extensive discography includes concerti with the Norwegian and Finnish Radio Orchestras, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, Warsaw National Philharmonic, BBC Philharmonic and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra under such conductors as Jukka-Pekka Saraste, Sakari Oramo, Markus Lehtinen, Paavo Berglun, Yan Pascal Tortelier and Krzysztof Penderecki and sonata recordings with pianists Bruno Rigutto (Beethoven, Faure, Franck, Debussy), Ralf Gothoni (Sallinen) and Juhani Lagerspetz (Brahms, Schumann).
A distinguished chamber musician, he is a member of the Helsinki Trio and is a founding member of the Sibelius Academy Quartet. He has performed regularly at the world’s leading music festivals including the Casals Festival Prades, Kumho Chamber Music Festival, Turku Music Festival, Seoul International Music Festival and his own Naantali Music Festival, which celebrates its 30th Anniversary this year. He is likewise a noted teacher, appointed Professor of Cello at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki in 1970 and recently named Professor of Cello at the Hochschule für Musik in Hamburg, Germany. Arto Noras is in considerable demand as a jurist for the world’s most important competitions. He has served on the juries of the Tchaikovsky, Casals, Rostropovitch and Cassado competitions and he gives masterclasses throughout the world.
Beethoven program, Peter Frankl, piano:
“Another choice trio with Frankl, Martin and Arto Noras joyously investigated the very creativity of this score.”
- ResMusica.com – September 7, 2010
The Casals Festival in Prades, France:
“Schubert’s Piano Trio No. 1 with Charler, Noras and Golan is an explosion of consummate joy. A fiery and hectic first movement shows three very diverse musical personalities whose harmony is quite extraordinary. The contrast with the Andante, heavenly and weightless, where cellist Arto Noras dares a passionate elegy, is striking.”
- ResMusica.com – August 10, 2010
Strauss’ Don Quixote with the Philadelphia Orchestra:
“Cello solos were played by veteran Finnish cellist Arto Noras, who is heard too rarely in the United States, and characterized Quixote more as an accident-prone poet than a buffoon - his tools being an effortless, touchingly demure legato. His big cadenza/soliloquy was lofty.”
- Philadelphia Inquirer – June 7, 2010
“The ‘Nocturnal Dances of Don Juan Quixote’ is the clearest example of the composer’s playful side. The distinguished cellist Arto Noras gave the first performance of the work, and previously recorded it in 1988 for Finlandia. The Elegy being expanded was an early work for solo cello. Noras provides a thoughtful performance of this short piece.”
- Fanfare Magazine – May/June 2009
Sallinen Cello Concerto – Finlandia Records:
“Highly expressive performances; Arto Noras is an eloquent soloist in the Cello Concerto and the naughtily swinging Chamber Music III, where Sallinen unexpectedly lets his hair down.”
- BBC Magazine - April 2009
Pablo Casals Music Festival:
“The cello sonata began with a staggeringly soft and beautiful cello aria. Just as yesterday, Arto Novas cast a spell on the audience making the most of the softness and the delicacy of the instrument in the Andante… He has unmistakably the most silky and soul-stirring sound of all the cellists heard in Prades.”
- ResMusica (France) – August 2008
The vitality of Arto Noras's playing in the Fantasy already triumphantly affirmed by his advocacy for the Sallinen and Kokkonen cello concertos, is much in evidence in the Cheremissian Fantasy.”
- Rob Barnett, MusicWeb-International -February 2003
“Arto Noras is a vigorous, stylish cello soloist in all three of the works listed here [Penderecki], though only one – Concerto n.2 - was originally designed for that instrument… Noras dispatches both these shorter works in the same strongly sculpted manner that serves the Second Concerto so well.”
- Gramophone – March 2002
“Arto Noras is a fine cellist with an evident affinity for these works. He paints his tone colours with a broad brush, producing not only technically assured playing but also a wide range of emotional moods. The higher register of the instrument avoids any wiry sound despite my reservations about the transcription of the Franck, it feels far more natural in the Fauré sonata where the instrument soars up the A string.”
- Christopher Fifield, MusicWeb-International December 2001
“That eloquent Finnish cellist, Arto Noras, reserves his finest form for the work's closing pages [Elgar], where the unforced nobility and natural reticence of his playing count for a very great deal.”
- Gramophone – Awards Issue 2001
Shostakovich Cello Concertos Nos. 1 and 2. Richard Strauss – Romanze:
Noras is expressively poetic especially in the lovely Largo of the Second Concerto and Rasilainen's accompaniment is colourfully articulate in both concertos.
- Ian Lace, MusicWeb-International December 1999
“This Dvorák performance has a fresh spontaneity about it. How lovingly Noras shapes the lovely romantic tune at the heart of the opening movement and the equally beautiful poignant melody of the Adagio…” Ian Lace, Music-web International - December 1999
“With nearly 100 concerts over two weeks, you never know when the moments of magic will come. But one came Sunday in the opening concert in Kuhmo Church when Arto Noras played the Haydn Cello Concerto in C major, bringing serene lyricism to the second movement and a stunning technique to the third.”
- The New York Times – July 1999
“Arto Noras, a cellist from Finland, has performed in New York as a member of the Sibelius Academy Quartet. On Wednesday, at Merkin Concert Hall, he made his New York debut as a soloist, and he made a strongly favorable impression. Mr. Noras began with Kodaly’s Sonata for Solo Cello, a work full of quickly running double- and triple-stop passages that demand precision and abundant energy. Mr. Noras supplied these, also bringing considerable color and texture to the music and endowing it with a gripping intensity. That intensity turned out to be a salient feature of the recital. Mr. Noras’ carefully accented phrasing gave Schubert’s Arpeggione sonata a fine Viennese lilt and in the Rachmaninoff sonata, where the piano actually has the more interesting material, he recaptured some of the attention with a sweetly singing tone.”
- The New York Times
“Tellefsen and Noras brought a honed singularity of purpose to their playing. Together and individually, they served the concerto’s spirit [Brahms, violin and cello] and resplendent beauties…. With bright tone and vigor they uncapped the opening allegro, singing out their shared melodies as if from mountaintops…”
- Metro (San Jose)
“‘This cellist is truly awesome’: His records didn’t prepare us for his tone, which seems surely the biggest heard since the days of Pablo Casals and Emmanuel Feuermann…”
- New York Daily News