Fest der Chorkulturen – Rundfunkchor Berlin & Friends
“Chichester Psalms” for boy soprano, choir and orchestra, harp and percussion
“Ever Us” for ten choirs and orchestra
(premiere, comissioned by the Rundfunkchor Berlin) for 10 choirs and orchestra
with texts by Jessica Duchen, based on texts of Beethoven, Schiller, Goethe, Sturm, Tiedge and Kant
Ludwig van Beethoven
Fourth Movement with final choral of Schiller’s “Ode to Joy” of the Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125
and other works
Gijs Leenaars - Conductor
As of the 2015/16 season Gijs Leenaars has taken up his post as new Principal Conductor and Artistic Director of Rundfunkchor Berlin.
Ever since he successfully cooperated with outstanding conductors such as Simon Rattle, Christian Thielemann, John Eliot Garniner and Yannick Nézet-Séguin.
In October 2017 he took over the musical direction for the genre crossing Concert performance “LUTHER dancing with the gods” with music by Bach, Nystedt and Reich in Berlins new Pierre Boulez Saal, the choir’s very first collaboration of Rundfunkchor Berlin with the renowned director Robert Wilson.
Moreover he directed a celebrated a capella programme in Autumn 2016 at the White Light Festival of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York as well as the choirs first-ever Tour through South America to Brasil, Chile and Argentina with the Brahms and Mozart-Requiem as well as Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9.
Born in 1978 in Nijmegen, The Netherlands, Leenaars is regarded as one of the most exciting choral conductors of the younger generation. He studied the piano, choral and orchestral conducting as well as singing in Nijmegen and Amsterdam. Directly upon completing his studies he embarked on a collaboration with the Netherlands Radio Choir (Groot Omroepkoor) in Hilversum.
From 2012 to 2015 he was the ensemble’s Principal Conductor, working with such leading conductors as Mariss Jansons, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Bernard Haitink and Valery Gergiev. He is a regular guest conductor of the Collegium Vocale of Ghent, Cappella Amsterdam and Netherlands Chamber Choir
and has also conducted orchestras including the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, Rotterdam Philharmonic, The Hague Philharmonic and Turin Philharmonic.
One of his special interests is contemporary music: Gijs Leenaars conducted the Dutch premiere of Wolfgang Rihm’s „Vigilia” and prepared the choral works of György Kurtág with the Netherlands Radio Choir for a complete recording under Reinbert de Leeuw. His strikingly imaginative programming brings together the classics of the choral repertoire with seldom performed works from all periods.
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.
Leo van Doeselaar
With around 60 concerts annually, numerous CDs and three Grammys, Rundfunkchor Berlin is one of the world’s foremost choruses. Its wide-ranging repertoire, flexible and richly nuanced sound, flawless precision and enthralling delivery have made it the chosen partner of the major orchestras and conductors in its home city but also internationally, where it functions as a musical ambassador for Berlin in the great concert halls of the world. It is so much more than just a concert and studio chorus.
Along with its symphonic choral central repertoire, Rundfunkchor Berlin is constantly forging new paths by means of projects that burst the bounds of the classical concert format and allow choral music to interact with other art forms. The choreographic realization of the Brahms Requiem as “human requiem” by Jochen Sandig with Sasha Waltz & Guests represents a milestone. Following acclaimed performances in Brussels, Taipei and Hong Kong, the work was performed during the 2016-17 season in Berlin, New York and South America. In Christian Jost’s LOVER, a music-theatre piece premiered in 2014 in Berlin’s Kraftwerk, Western symphonic choral music meets a traditional Asian percussion ensemble. In its most recent project, “cosmic lights”, in 2016, Rundfunkchor Berlin presented a multimedia programme based on celestial phenomena including the Northern Lights.
Rundfunkchor Berlin is constantly developing new and unusual ways of experiencing choral music and stimulating choruses all over the world to follow its lead. In formats such as the Sing-Along Concert in the Berlin Philharmonie, the Liederbörse (Song Exchange) for Berlin’s school choirs and the project Hand in Hand, it is working intensively with committed amateur choirs. With its International Master Class for choral conducting and the Academy and Schola for young singers, it is fostering the next generation of professionals. And to help make singing an intrinsic component of the primary school day, it created the initiative SING! in 2011.
Founded in 1925, the chorus celebrated its 90th anniversary in 2015. Since its inception, it has been shaped by conductors like Helmut Koch, Dietrich Knothe (1982-93), Robin Gritton (1994-2001) and Simon Halsey (2001-15). At the beginning of 2015-16 season, Gijs Leenaars assumed the position of Principal Conductor and Artistic Director. Simon Halsey retains his ties to Rundfunkchor Berlin as Conductor Laureate and Guest Conductor. Rundfunkchor Berlin is an ensemble of Rundfunk Orchester und Chöre GmbH Berlin and is sponsored by Deutschlandradio, the German Federal Republic, the state of Berlin and Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg.
“Freude, schöner Götterfunken…” with choirs from all over the world