Beethoven’s 9th Symphony in the Zeiss-Großplanetarium
Ludwig van Beethoven
Symphony No. 9 in D minor, op. 125 with final choral of Schiller’s “Ode to Joy”
Karina Canellakis - Conductor
Karina Canellakis has become one of the most sought-after conductors of her generation. The principal conductor of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra has been principal guest conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra since 2020 and principal guest conductor of the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin (RSB) since 2019.
In the 2021/2022 season she made her debut with the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the HR Symphony Orchestra and returned to the San Francisco Symphony, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic and Orchestre de Paris. In the summer of 2021, she made her debut with the Boston Symphony at Tanglewood and with the Cleveland Orchestra at the Blossom Festival. On the opera stage, she conducted a new production of Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin” at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris. With her Netherlands Radio Orchestra she gave a guest performance of Janáček’s “Kát’a Kabanová” at the Concertgebouw. She conducted the second act of Wagner’s “Tristan und Isolde” at the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic and the third act of Wagner’s “Siegfried” with the Vienna Symphony at the Bregenz Festival. Previous operatic experience includes Mozart’s “Don Giovanni”, “The Magic Flute”, “Le Nozze di Figaro”, David Lang’s “The Loser” and Peter Maxwell Davies’ “The Hogboon”.
Since winning the Sir Georg Solti Conducting Award in 2016, Karina Canellakis has appeared with orchestras around the world, including London, Philadelphia, Hamburg, Montréal, Melbourne, Sydney, Toronto, Cincinnati, Minnesota and Detroit. She was the first woman to conduct the First Night of the BBC Proms in London with the BBC Symphony Orchestra in 2019. She was also the first woman to be entrusted with the Nobel Prize Concerto with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic in 2018.
Karina Canellakis began her career initially as a violinist and chamber musician until she was encouraged by Sir Simon Rattle to devote herself to conducting. For two years she had been a member of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra Academy. Born and raised in New York City, she can nevertheless draw on diverse family lines in various European countries.
Iwona Sobotka - Soprano
Iwona Sobotka achieved international acclaim as the Grand Prize winner of the Queen Elisabeth International Music Competition in Belgium. Other awards include First Prize at the Warsaw Polish Art Song Competition and First Prize at the East & West Artists International Auditions in New York, that resulted in her debut concert in Carnegie Hall.
Recent and upcoming engagements include, among others, concerts with the Berlin Philharmonic under Sir Simon Rattle in Beethoven’s “Christ on the Mount of Olives”, the London Symphony Orchestra in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony at Festspiele Baden-Baden, the Orchestre Philharmonique de Luxembourg under Marek Janowski in Strauss’ Vier letzte Lieder and Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France in Wagner’s Wesendonck Lieder.
Iwona Sobotka made her operatic debut at the National Opera in Paris in 2004, where she performed the roles of the First Lady (“The Magic Flute”) and Ygraine (Dukas’ “Ariane et Barbe-Bleue”). She also appeared at the Schleswig Holstein Musik Festival in the title role of Halka and Liù (Puccini’s “Turandot”) to great critical acclaim. Other roles have included Tatyana (Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin”) and Donna Anna (Mozart’s “Don Giovanni”) under Teodor Currentzis for the Tchaikovsky Perm State Opera; and Violetta (Verdi’s “La traviata”), Pamina (“The Magic Flute”) and Mimi (Puccini’s “La bohème”) for Opera Podlaska. In 2017 she made her Komische Oper Berlin debut as Pamina, performing also with Komische Oper Berlin on tour to Australia, New Zealand, Macao and Taiwan. She made her Osterfestspiele Baden-Baden debut as Blumenmädchen in Wagner’s Parsifal with the Berlin Philharmonic and Sir Simon Rattle one year later.
Past performances on the concert stage include a concert tour in Asia with the Berlin Philharmonic under Sir Simon Rattle with Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony; as well as appearances with the London Symphony Orchestra, Staatskapelle Berlin, Vienna Symphony, NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Mahler Chamber Orchestra and City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. With the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin she has appeared numerous times.
In 2010, Sobotka took part in a ‘Szymanowski Focus’ programme curated by distinguished Polish pianist Piotr Anderszewski to promote the music of Karol Szymanowski in London at the Wigmore Hall and in New York at Carnegie Hall. Following her graduation from the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music in Warsaw, Iwona continued her studies with the renowned artist and pedagogue Tom Krause at the Escuela Superior de Música Reina Sofía in Madrid.
Virginie Verrez - Alto
French mezzo-soprano Virginie Verrez is a graduate of New York’s Juilliard School. She is the winner of the 2016 Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition and a winner of the 2015 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. She was a member of the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program 2015-2017.
In the 2019/20 season, Virginie makes her role debut as Carmen in a new production for the Welsh National Opera and she sings her first Prince Charmant in a new production of Cendrillon for the Stadttheater Klagenfurt. On the concert platform she will sing Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin/Karina Canellakis; Mozart’s Requiem with the Orchestre symphonique de Mulhouse/Jacques Lacombe and Beethoven’s Mass in C at the Festival de Saint Denis with the Orchestre Philharmonique du Radio France/Karina Canellakis.
She has sung at the Opéra national de Paris; Wiener Staatsoper; Opéra de Lille, Festival d’Aix-en-Provence; Glyndebourne Festival and, in the United States, for the Metropolitan Opera; Dallas Opera and in Santa Fe.
Stefan Vinke - Tenor
German Heldentenor, Stefan Vinke, studied as a church musician at the Cologne College of Music before beginning his professional singing career in Karlsruhe and Mönchengladbach. In 1999 he was awarded the position of ‘Young Heroic Tenor’ at the Nationaltheather Mannheim where in 2000 he was voted ‘Male Newcomer of the Year’ by Opernwelt magazine.
Globally renowned as an interpreter of Wagner’s great tenor roles, he has sung the title roles of Parsifal, Lohengrin, Rienzi, Tristan and Siegfried, also Siegmund/Die Walküre, Siegfried/Götterdammerung, Erik/Der Fliegende Holländer, and Walther von Stolzing/Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg.
His numerous Ring cycle appearances include the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden with Sir Antonio Pappano, the Metropolitan Opera, New York with Philippe Jordan, Wiener Staatsoper and Bayerische Staatsoper under Kiril Petrenko and Deutsche Oper with Donald Runnicles.
He has also sung the title role of Idomeneo, Florestan/Fidelio, Bacchus/Ariadne, Paul/Die tote Stadt, Alviano/Die Gezeichneten, and Jim Mahony/Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny in the theatres of Hamburg, Cologne, Leipzig, Stuttgart, Munich, Paris, Montpellier, Lisbon, Barcelona, Venice, Madrid, Melbourne, Bejing, Geneva, Chicago, Seattle, Hong Kong, Sydney, and at the Salzburg Festival.
His performances of Tristan at the 2019 Bayreuth Festival with Christian Thielemann, and Siegfried /Siegfried and Götterdämmerung at the Müpa in Budapest with Adam Fischer were highly acclaimed. His opera performances in the 2019/2020 season continue with Tristan in Bologna, Athens and Karlsrühe and his first Kaiser/Die Frau ohne Schatten in Leipzig.
A distinguished concert artist, his orchestral engagements in the 2019/2020 season include Beethoven’s ‘Christus am Ölberg’ in Frankfurt and Glanert’s ‘Requiem für Hieronymous Bosch’ with Semyon Bychkov and the Czech Philharmonic.
Liang Li - Basso
The Chinese bass Liang Li has become a most sought-after singer for both opera and concert with performances at all important international companies and festivals. He sings all main roles of his Fach, which includes German as well as Italian and French repertoire. He has got a regular collaboration with conductors like Mariss Jansons, Zubin Mehta, Sir Simon Rattle, Myung-Whun Chung, Donald Runnicles, Tomás Netopil, Sylvain Cambreling, Jonathan Nott, Manfred Honeck, just to name a few.
Highlights of previous seasons include e.g.concert performances of “Turandot”/ Timur with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (Zubin Mehta) in Tel Aviv, “Tristan and Isolde”/ Marke at the National Center of the Performing Arts in Beijing (Shao-Chia Lu; Mariusz Trelinski), Beethoven’s “Symphony no. 9” with the Orchestra of La Scala di Milano (Zubin Mehta), Dvorak’s “Stabat Mater” in the Palace of the Arts in Budapest (Riccardo Frizza). He had a huge success with concert performances of “Don Giovanni”/ Commendatore with the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra (Jonathan Nott) in Kawasaki, as Hunding /”Die Walküre” at the Hamburgische Staatsoper as well as Filippo /”Don Carlo” (Keri-Lynn Wilson) at Bolshoi Theatre Moscow. He subsequently received the ‘BraVo Award’ at Bolshoi. He furthermore portrayed Fiesco in a new production of “Simone Boccanegra” (Paolo Carignani; David Hermann) at the Vlaamse Opera Antwerp, Filippo /”Don Carlo” (Axel Kober) at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein, Zaccharia /”Nabucco” at the Deutsche Oper Berlin as well as at the Staatsoper Stuttgart, Marke /”Tristan and Isolde” and Daland /”The Flying Dutchman” at the Wagner Festival in Budapest and Sarastro in a Japan Tournée of Barrie Kosky’s production of “The Magic Flute”. He sang a concert of Beethoven’s “Symphony no. 9″ under the baton of Manfred Honeck with the Danish Radio in Copenhagen. As Arkel /”Pélleas et Mélisande” he appeared at the Wiener Festwochen and the Edinburgh Festival.
Liang Li is a regular guest at the Festival Baden-Baden with e.g. “Die Walküre”/ Hunding (Jonathan Nott) and a production of “Manon Lescaut”/ Geronte de Ravoir (Richard Eyre/Sir Simon Rattle), at the Opéra de Paris with “Il Trovatore”/ Ferrando (Daniele Rustioni; Alex Ollé) and “Don Giovanni”/ Commendatore (Alain Altinoglu), at the Deutsche Oper Berlin with “Nabucco”/ Zaccharia, Gurnemanz /”Parsifal” (Donald Runnicles) and “Tristan and Isolde”/ Marke, at the Semperoper Dresden with “Macbeth”/ Banco and “La juive”/ Cardinal de Brogni, in Caen and Luxemburg with “Der Fliegende Holländer”/ Daland (Francois-Xavier Roth), at the Opera Festival Beijing (NCPA) with “Nabucco”/ Zaccharia aside Placido Domingo, at the Palau de les Arts Valencia with “Il Trovatore”/ Ferrando and “Tristan and Isolde”/ Marke (Zubin Mehta).
With his distinguished concert repertoire, Liang Li also appears internationally on all important concert stages, as with the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra (Mozart “c-moll Mass”; Andrew Manze), with Dvorak’s “Stabat Mater” with the Bavarian Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Mariss Jansons in Munich and Lucerne, with Rossini’s “Stabat Mater” both at the Palau de les Arts in Valencia (Nicola Luisotti) and at the Palace of the Arts in Budapest (Carlo Montanaro) and with Mahler’s “Symphony no. 8” with the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra at Kawasaki (Jonathan Nott), with Mozart’s “Requiem” and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (Manfred Honeck) at Carnegie Hall in New York, at Vienna Musikverein as well as in Pittsburgh, with Verdi’s “Requiem” at the Philharmonie Essen (Tomás Netopil) and at the Palau de les Arts (Carlo Rizzi), with Schumann’s “Faust Szenen”/ Pater Profundus, Böser Geist under the baton of Sebastian Weigle at the Frankfurt Museumskonzerte, with Mahler’s “Symphony no. 8” (Shao-chia Lü) in Taiwan, with Dvorak’s “Stabat Mater” at the Mozarteum Salzburg – just to name a few.
Liang Li was born in China and studied voice in Tianjin and in Peking. He won numerous prizes at International Voice Competitions, e.g. the ‘International ARD Music Competition’ in Munich, ‘Neue Stimmen’ of the Bertelsmann Stiftung and the ‘International Opera-Competition in Shizuoka’ in Japan.
For his outstanding credits for the Staatsoper Stuttgart where Liang Li was a member for ten years and where he sings all important roles of his Fach, he has been honored with the title ‘Kammersänger of the Staatsoper Stuttgart’ in November 2016.
Future and current projects include several new productions at the Hamburgische Staatsoper, his return to both, Deutsche Oper Berlin and the Semperoper Dresden, various concerts and performances with Zubin Mehta, with the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra and the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra.
With round about 60 concerts per season, CD-recordings and international guest performances the Rundfunkchor Berlin is one of the world’s outstanding choral ensembles. Three Grammy® Awards alone mark the success of the ensemble. The exceptional breadth of its repertoire, an unmistakable warm, richly nuanced sound, absolute precision and delight in experimentation all contribute to making it one of the chosen partners of international orchestras and conductors such as Kirill Petrenko, Daniel Barenboim, Sir Simon Rattle, or Yannick NézetSéguin. It is the permanent partner of the Berliner Philharmoniker as well as of Berlin’s Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester and Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester and their Principal Conductors.
Rundfunkchor Berlin’s experimental project series has attracted great worldwide attention. In collaboration with artists from diverse disciplines, the chorus breaks down the classical concert formation and adopts new modes of choral music for a new audience. The interactive scenic version of Brahms’s »Ein deutsches Requiem« staged by Jochen Sandig and a team of Sasha Waltz & Guests – »human requiem« – became a milestone within the choir’s experimental repertoire with guest performances in New York, Hongkong, Paris, Adelaide and Istanbul. In its project »LUTHER dancing with the gods« the choir cooperated with director Robert Wilson and reflected upon Luthers impact within the arts in an extraordinary concert performance with music by Bach, Nystedt and Reich in march of 2017. In the season 2020/21 the Rundfunkchor Berlin presented the transdisciplinary project THE WORLD TO COME based on Beethovens »Missa solemnis«. Directed by Tilman Hecker, contemporary music genres are fusing with the masterpiece by Beethoven, guiding the audience on a musical journey into the world of tomorrow. National and international Artists including Moor Mother, Mohammad Reza Mortazavi, Planningtorock, Colin Self and Birke J. Bertelsmeier, came together to realize the heart of the new season in Berlin’s Vollgutlager.
With its community projects for various target groups – the big Sing-along Concert in the Berlin Philharmonie, the Festival of Choral Cultures for international choirs and the Liederbörse (Song Exchange) for children and young people – Rundfunkchor Berlin invites people of all ages to become immersed in the world of singing. Its long-term education programme SING!, encourages singing in Berlin’s elementary schools as an ongoing staple in everyday classes. With its Academy and Schola for young professional singers as well as the Berlin International Masterclass for highly qualified young choral conductors it supports the next generation.
Founded in 1925 the choir celebrated its 90th anniversary in 2015. Since its foundation the ensemble was shaped by conductors including Helmut Koch, Dietrich Knothe, Robin Gritton and Simon Halsey. As of season 2015/16 Gijs Leenaars has taken up his post as Principal Conductor and Artistic Director of Rundfunkchor Berlin. Simon Halsey was appointed Conductor Laureate and will retain his ties to the ensemble as regular guest conductor.
Rundfunkchor Berlin is an ensemble of RundfunkOrchester und -Chöre gGmbH Berlin (Shareholders: Deutschlandradio, the Federal Republic of Germany, the State of Berlin and Radio BerlinBrandenburg).
Benjamin Goodson - Chorus Master
In 2016/17 Benjamin Goodson took up his post as assistant of the principal conductor of the Rundfunkchor Berlin. Born in London in 1990 the British conductor studied music and musicology at the University of Oxford. Furthermore he studied conducting with renowned teachers and conductors like Sir Colin Davis, Paul Spicer and Ulrich Windfuhr.
In England he is the musical director of the award-winning Bath Camerata, which he took over in 2015. In the same year – by the age of 24 – he was named by the university to become Oxford’s youngest director of music, a position that he gave up for the Berlin engagement, while he still holds the position as chorus master at the Dorset Festival Opera. Moreover he is a regular guest conductor of various choirs and orchestras with a broad repertoire ranging from early music to contemporary works. In the season 2017/18 he worked with the, the MDR Rundfunkchor Leipzig, the NDR Chor Hamburg, the Netherlands Radio Choir and the London Symphony Chorus, which he prepared for a performance at the BBC Proms.
In the Rundfunkchor Berlin’s 2018/19 season Benjamin Goodson prepares the choir for several works such as Ralph Vaughan Williams’s “Sea Symphony” und Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 2. In 2020/21 he will become principal conductor of the Netherlands Radio Choir.
Bridge of sound – live broadcast of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony in the Zeiss-Großplanetarium with starry sky projectors