„The world to come“
“The world to come” – Eine Berliner Festmesse nach Ludwig van Beethovens Missa solemnis D-Dur op. 123
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.
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).
Konzept - Raum -Szene
Mohammat Reza Mortazavi
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.
A concert as installation art based on Ludwig van Beethoven’s Missa solemnis