When the University of Breslau gave Brahms an honorary degree, they were honouring a master of the symphony – a man who could express the experience of a lifetime in music of thrilling grandeur and sweep. They definitely didn’t expect a riotous overture based on student drinking songs! But that’s how Thomas Søndergård opens tonight’s concert, before diving headlong into the noble melodies, storm-swept landscapes and deep poetry of a composer who could move mountains but preferred to touch the human heart.
Repertoire includesBrahms - Academic Festival Overture Brahms - Symphony No3 Brahms - Symphony No2
Music Director Thomas Søndergård
Danish conductor Thomas Søndergård is current Music Director of Royal Scottish National Orchestra, following six seasons as Principal Guest Conductor. Between 2012 and 2018, he served as Principal Conductor of BBC National Orchestra of Wales (BBCNOW), 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), 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, Toronto, Atlanta, Vancouver, Houston and Seattle. He has made highly successful tours to China, Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
The 2021/22 season sees the RSNO’s return to live performances, showcasing works by, amongst others; Stravinsky, Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich and Berlioz. Also with the RSNO, in November 2021 Thomas will lead performances of Dvořák Symphony No. 9 ‘From the New World’ and (with Midori), the world premiere of Detlev Glanert’s Violin Concerto No. 2 To the Immortal Beloved, in tandem with the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, held in Glasgow. Recent highlights with RSNO have included tours to China and the United States, premieres of new commissions and Marsalis’ Violin Concerto with Nicola Benedetti and much-praised Edinburgh International Festival. This season, he also makes first visits to Montreal Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra and Bergen Philharmonic and returns to many orchestras, among them NDR Radiophilharmonie Hannover, Royal Danish Opera (Die Walküre and New Year concerts), London Philharmonic Orchestra and Danish National Symphony Orchestra. Plans for 2022/2023 include touring with RSNO and returns to several North American orchestras.
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 performance with 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 work 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, ranging from contemporary to, 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. Further returns are planned and 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 Vilde Frang’s celebrated debut recording (WDR Köln for EMI); Poul Ruders (Århus Symphony, Norwegian Radio, Royal Danish Opera (Kafka’s Trial) for Da Capo and Bridge Records); Lutoslawski and Dutilleux concertos with ‘cellist Johannes Moser and Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester Berlin (Pentatone); and for Linn Rexords, Sibelius symphonies and tone poems with BBC NOW and Prokofiev and Richard Strauss with RSNO.