Juha Kangas studied violin at the Sibelius Academy with Onni Suhonen. After graduating he worked for five years as a violist with the Helsinki City Orchestra, then became a violin teacher at the Central Ostrobothnian Music Institute (1972-86). Alongside his teaching work, in 1972 he founded the Central Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra, for which he still functions as artistic director. Kangas also appears as a guest conductor in various parts of Europe. Since the autumn of 2001 Kangas has been associated with the Åbo Philharmonic as Principal Guest Conductor. Juha Kangas was awarded the Finnish Music Prize in 1992 and in 1998 he received the Grand Music Prize of Latvia, the Pro Finlandia Medal and the Finland Prize, as well as the Estonian Heino Eller Prize in 1999.