Preview: Finnish Radio SO, Royal Albert Hall/Usher Hall, London/Edinburgh

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The Independent Culture

The Finnish hotshot Sakari Oramo divides himself into three equal parts: he is the music director of the CBSO, the chief conductor of the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, and the chief conductor-designate of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic. He's also a champion of these countries' musical traditions.

"There is what you might call a North European Rim, which you can see in the connections between Sibelius and Vaughan Williams," he says. How so? "Spinning long lines out of small cells, in contrast to the German tradition, which is about presenting something, then developing it. Vaughan Williams may have imbibed deeply from the 19th-century Germans, but he was also influenced by Sibelius."

What does Oramo make of British audiences' lack of respect for their heritage? "It could be a lack of self-esteem: imported things are better than home-grown ones. In Finland, we have always championed our own music, and I transferred that attitude to British music, where I found treasurable things." Like what? "The music of John Foulds, which has been very neglected, despite being a highly original voice. History is not always right in its posthumous verdicts."

He attributes the fact that Finland and Sweden have not replicated Britain's divide between avant-garde and mainstream to a different mindset. "In Scandinavia, we regard elitism as good. British audiences are more reluctant to face up to things they may not understand. In Scandinavia, music is not seen as being only about enjoyment - it's also about education, and broadening horizons."

At his Prom, he will conduct Sibelius, Strauss and Bartók, and at the Usher Hall, Bruckner's First Symphony, as part of a sequence of themaster's symphonic works. He's sceptical about Usher Hall's strategy. "Bruckner should not be taken in large doses," he says. "His philosophy is not as comprehensive and encyclopedic as Sibelius's is."

Royal Albert Hall (020-7589 8212), 14 August; Usher Hall (0131-228 1155), 15 August

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