Sing-along Concert with the Rundfunkchor Berlin
Ludwig van Beethoven
Fantasie c-Moll op. 80
für gemischten Chor und Orchester op. 54, Text: Friedrich Hölderlin
(nur Rundfunkchor Berlin und Orchester, nicht als Mitsingwerk)
für Sopran, Chor und Orchester
Simon Halsey - Conductor
Simon Halsey was Principal Conductor of Rundfunkchor Berlin from 2001 to 2015. As of 2015/16 season he passed on the baton to the young Dutch conductor Gijs Leenaars. He was awarded Conductor Laureate as part of his official farewell and will furthermore retain his ties to the ensemble as regular guest conductor. His enthusiasm, wit, perfectionism and passionate pedagogical dedication have made him one of the most sought-after choral conductors
in the world.
Born in London in 1958, Halsey was appointed director of music at the University of Warwick when he was only 22. In 1982, Sir Simon Rattle engaged him as director of the CBSO Chorus, a position that he holds until today. Under the auspices of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, he initiated an exemplary youth choral programme with three further choirs. Between 1997 and 2008 he was engaged as guest conductor then principal conductor of the Netherlands Radio Chorus in Hilversum. From 2004 to 2012 he also directed the Northern Sinfonia Chorus and the choral programme at the Sage in Gateshead.
He took up two new directorships in 2012: the London Symphony Chorus and the BBC Proms Youth Chorus. In 2012 he was also appointed artistic director of the new youth choral programme »Vokalhelden« of the Berliner Philharmoniker. With the 2016/17 season he assumed his post as the new artistic director of the chorus Orféo Català and artistic advisor at the Palau de la Música Catalana Barcelona. For his preparation of Rundfunkchor Berlin in Brahms’s »Ein deutsches Requiem« and Stravinsky’s »Symphony of Psalms« for the CD recordings with Sir Simon Rattle conducting the Berliner Philharmoniker as well as Kaija Saariaho’s »L’Amour de loin« for the CD recording with Kent Nagano conducting the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Halsey won the Grammy Award in 2008, 2009 and 2011.
Besides his work as a conductor and choral trainer, Halsey is also in demand as a pedagogue. In 2012 the recipient of three honorary doctorates took up his post as professor at the University of Birmingham. With Rundfunkchor Berlin he established the Berlin International Masterclass.
His teaching activities also include numerous guest lectureships – thereunder at Princeton and Yale. In 2011 his book on choral conducting »Chorleitung: Vom Konzept zum Konzert« was issued in the Schott series »Master Class«.
For his outstanding contributions to choral music in Germany, Simon Halsey was awarded the »Bundesverdienstkreuz« (Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany) in 2011. In 2015 he was presented by the Queen with »Her Majesty’s Medal for Music« and appointed »Commander of the Order of the British Empire« (CBE). In 2016 he received the »Geschwister-Mendelssohn-Medaille« of the Berlin Choral Association, with a laudatory speech by Berlin’s former State Secretary of Culture Tim Renner.
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).