Music Director Thomas Søndergård

Danish conductor Thomas Søndergård is the Music Director of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, following six seasons as Principal Guest Conductor. The 2023:24 season also sees Thomas start his tenure as Music Director of the Minnesota Orchestra. Between 2012 and 2018, he served as Principal Conductor of BBC National Orchestra of Wales (BBC NOW), after stepping down as Principal Conductor and Musical Advisor of the Norwegian Radio Orchestra.

He has appeared with many notable orchestras in leading European centres, such as Berlin (including Berliner Philharmoniker, Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Konzerthausorchester Berlin), Munich (Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunk), Leipzig (Gewandhausorchester), Paris (Orchestre National de France), London (London Philharmonic, BBC Symphony, London Symphony and Philharmonia Orchestra), Amsterdam and Rotterdam (Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Netherlands Philharmonic, Rotterdam Philharmonic) and is a familiar figure in Scandinavia, with such orchestras as Oslo Philharmonic, Gothenburg Symphony, Danish National Symphony, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, Swedish Radio Symphony, Finnish Radio Symphony and Helsinki Philharmonic. North American appearances to date have included the symphony orchestras of Chicago, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Baltimore, St Louis, Toronto, Atlanta, Montreal, Vancouver, Houston and Seattle. He has made highly successful tours to China, Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

The 2023:24 season marks the beginning of Thomas’ tenure as Music Director of the Minnesota Orchestra. With the RSNO this season, in addition to their subscription series, Thomas will lead the orchestra’s residency at the Grosses Festspielhaus in Salzburg, joined by Lise de la Salle, as well as an extensive European tour with Ray Chen. This season sees Thomas make his return to the London Symphony Orchestra, as well as his debut with the New York Philharmonic, where he will perform the US premiere of Olga Neuwirth’s Keyframes for a Hippogriff. Thomas also makes regular guest appearances throughout Scandinavia this season, debuting with Iceland Symphony and the Bergen International Festival, where he leads a full staging of Ibsen’s Peer Gynt to Grieg’s complete incidental music. Return visits include Bergen Philharmonic, a joint collaboration with Aalborg and Aarhus Symfoniorkesters, and the Danish National Symphony Orchestra, celebrating his receipt of the Carl Nielsen and Anne-Marie Carl Nielsen’s Foundation award for his outstanding contribution to Danish musical life.

As part of the 2015 anniversary celebrations of both Sibelius and Nielsen, he conducted a wide variety of their works with many leading orchestras. A passionate supporter of the music of Carl Nielsen, his performances with the Swedish Radio Symphony of his Symphony No. 5 was praised as “equal of the great pioneers of Nielsen interpretation… It’s hard to imagine a finer performance of this remarkable symphony.” (Dagens Nyheter); and in 2019 participated in a special concert to celebrate Nielsen’s works with the Royal Danish Academy of Music Copenhagen.

Following his acclaimed debut for Royal Danish Opera (Kafka’s Trial), he has since returned regularly to conduct a broad repertoire, including Die Walküre, which won the 2022 Reumert Award for Best Opera Production, Elektra, Le nozze di Figaro, Il barbiere di Siviglia, La bohème, Cunning Little Vixen, Il viaggio a Reims; and has also made short concert tours with the Royal Danish Orchestra. He has also enjoyed successful collaborations with Norwegian Opera and Royal Swedish Opera. His Stockholm productions of Tosca and Turandot (both with Nina Stemme) led to his Bayerische Staatsoper debut, conducting main season and Opera Festival performances of Turandot with her and he most recently returned to for the Opera’s Akademiekonzert series. He made his Deutsche Oper Berlin debut with the World premiere of Scartazzini’s Edward II and has since returned for Berlioz’s Romeo and Juliet.

His discography covers a broad range of contemporary and mainstream repertoire, including Poul Ruders (Arhus Symphony, Norwegian Radio, Royal Danish Opera (Kafka’s Trial) for Da Capo and Bridge Records); Sibelius symphonies and tone poems with BBC NOW and Prokofiev and Richard Strauss with RSNO for Linn Records; Lutoslawski and Dutilleux concertos with ‘cellist Johannes Moser and Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester Berlin (Pentatone); and Vilde Frang’s celebrated debut recording (WDR Koln for EMI).

In January 2022, Thomas was decorated with a prestigious Royal Order of Chivalry – the Order of Dannebrog (Ridder af Dannebrogordenen) by Her Majesty Margrethe II, Queen of Denmark.