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Thomas Søndergård

Music Director

Danish conductor Thomas Søndergård is Music Director of Royal Scottish National Orchestra, after six seasons as Principal Guest Conductor. He served as Principal Conductor of BBC National Orchestra of Wales (BBCNOW) from September 2012 – August 2018, and prior to this, as Principal Conductor and Musical Advisor of the Norwegian Radio Orchestra for three seasons.

Thomas has conducted many leading orchestras, including London Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Symphony, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, Göteborgs Symfoniker, Danish National Symphony Orchestra, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic and Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Bamberger Symphoniker; leading tours with Junge Deutsche Philharmonie and European Union Youth Orchestra; Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Nederlands Philharmonisch Orkest, Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg, Brussels Philharmonic; Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre National d’Ile de France; Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Houston Symphony and Seattle Symphony Orchestra.

The 2018/19 season includes his debuts with Chicago Symphony Orchestra joined by Alexander Gavrylyuk, New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestre National de France and Tapiola Sinfonietta. He makes return visits to Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Danish National Symphony Orchestra, the orchestra of the Royal Danish Academy Copenhagen, Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Bayerische Staatsoper (Turandot) and Deutsche Oper Berlin (Berlioz’s Romeo and Juliet). Plans with RSNO include tours to China and the United States, premieres of new commissions and Marsalis’ Violin Concerto with Nicola Benedetti.

Recent highlights include debuts with Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester Berlin, Bern Symphony Orchestra, Gurzenich-Orchester Köln, SWR Baden-Baden, Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg and return visits to Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse and the revival of The Magic Flute with Norwegian Opera.

A passionate supporter of the music of Carl Nielsen, his most recent programme with Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra (Symphony No. 5) received wide praise as “equal of the great pioneers of Nielsen interpretation… It’s harder to imagine a finer performance of this remarkable symphony” (Dagens Nyheter). As part of the 2015 anniversary celebrations of both Sibelius and Nielsen he conducted a wide variety of works by these two composers with many leading orchestras. In 2019 he will participate in a special concert to celebrate Nielsen’s work with the Royal Danish Academy of Music Copenhagen.

Thomas is also an experienced opera conductor at home in mainstream and contemporary repertoire. Previous opera includes Bayerische Staatsoper (Turandot), Norwegian Opera (Die Zauberflöte), Deutsche Oper Berlin (world premiere of Scartazzini’s Edward II) and Tosca, Turandot (Nina Stemme) and Les dialogues des Carmelites for Kungliga Operan (Royal Swedish Opera). He was described as “a sensation” at his debut with the Royal Danish Opera conducting Ruders' opera Kafka's Trial: "He is one of the best things that has happened to the art of opera for many years" and subsequent productions there have included Il barbiere di Siviglia, Le Nozze di Figaro, La bohème, Cunning Little Vixen and Il viaggio a Reims.

Releases with BBCNOW include Sibelius Symphonies 1, 2, 6 & 7 and most recently a disc which shines light on Sibelius’ tone poems and theatre music, featuring Finlandia and Valse Triste (Linn Records). Other noteworthy recordings include Vilde Frang's celebrated first recording for EMI, and Ruders’ Piano Concerto No. 2 on Bridge Records which was nominated for a Gramophone Award in 2011. In 2011 he was awarded the prestigious Queen Ingrid Foundation Prize for services to Music in Denmark. Due for release shortly are the Lutoslawski and Dutilleux cello concertos with Johannes Moser and Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester Berlin for Pentatone.

Forthcoming Concerts with Thomas Søndergård


Tchaikovsky's Pathétique

Don’t be misled by the title: Pathétique means ‘full of feeling’, and no symphony wears its heart quite so passionately on its sleeve as Tchaikovsky’s Sixth, a no-holds-barred musical autobiography by a composer on the edge. Thomas Søndergård and the RSNO will go straight for the emotional jugular, but not…

Thu 21 Nov 2019, 7.30PM
Perth Concert Hall
Box Office: 01738 621 031

Tchaikovsky's Pathétique

Tchaikovsky's Pathétique

Don’t be misled by the title: Pathétique means ‘full of feeling’, and no symphony wears its heart quite so passionately on its sleeve as Tchaikovsky’s Sixth, a no-holds-barred musical autobiography by a composer on the edge. Thomas Søndergård and the RSNO will go straight for the emotional jugular, but not…

Fri 22 Nov 2019, 7.30PM
Usher Hall, Edinburgh
Box Office: 0131 228 1155

Tchaikovsky's Pathétique

Tchaikovsky's Pathétique

Don’t be misled by the title: Pathétique means ‘full of feeling’, and no symphony wears its heart quite so passionately on its sleeve as Tchaikovsky’s Sixth, a no-holds-barred musical autobiography by a composer on the edge. Thomas Søndergård and the RSNO will go straight for the emotional jugular, but not…

Sat 23 Nov 2019, 7.30PM
Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
Box Office: 0141 353 8000

Tchaikovsky's Pathétique

Mahler’s Song of the Earth

‘I mean to portray in music the whole story of the human race…’ Richard Strauss did everything on a spectacular scale, and if you only know Also sprach Zarathustra from 2001: A Space Odyssey, you haven’t heard the half of it! But there’s more: Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde

Fri 6 Mar 2020, 7.30PM
Usher Hall, Edinburgh
Box Office: 0131 228 1155

Mahler’s Song of the Earth

Mahler’s Song of the Earth

‘I mean to portray in music the whole story of the human race…’ Richard Strauss did everything on a spectacular scale, and if you only know Also sprach Zarathustra from 2001: A Space Odyssey, you haven’t heard the half of it! But there’s more: Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde

Sat 7 Mar 2020, 7.30PM
Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
Box Office: 0141 353 8000

Mahler’s Song of the Earth

Beethoven Revolution: The Emperor

Beethoven never actually called his Fifth Piano Concerto ‘The Emperor’ – it just seemed perfect for a piece that’s so magnificently larger than life. So who better to play it than the charismatic composer and pianist Fazil Say? His Grand Bazaar is a musical tour through the colours, fragrances and…

Thu 12 Mar 2020, 7.30PM
Caird Hall, Dundee
Box Office: 01382 434 940

Beethoven Revolution: The Emperor

Beethoven Revolution: The Emperor

Beethoven never actually called his Fifth Piano Concerto ‘The Emperor’ – it just seemed perfect for a piece that’s so magnificently larger than life. So who better to play it than the charismatic composer and pianist Fazil Say? His Grand Bazaar is a musical tour through the colours, fragrances and…

Fri 13 Mar 2020, 7.30PM
Usher Hall, Edinburgh
Box Office: 0131 228 1155

Beethoven Revolution: The Emperor

Beethoven Revolution: The Emperor

Beethoven never actually called his Fifth Piano Concerto ‘The Emperor’ – it just seemed perfect for a piece that’s so magnificently larger than life. So who better to play it than the charismatic composer and pianist Fazil Say? His Grand Bazaar is a musical tour through the colours, fragrances and…

Sat 14 Mar 2020, 7.30PM
Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
Box Office: 0141 353 8000

Beethoven Revolution: The Emperor

Strauss & Mahler Four

A jingle of sleigh bells and a flurry of birdsong: Mahler’s Fourth Symphony begins like Mozart and ends with a child’s idea of heaven. But that’s only how the concert finishes. Thomas Søndergård kicks things off with the musical anarchy of Richard Strauss’ Till Eulenspiegel – classical music’s ultimate prankster.…

Thu 7 May 2020, 7.30PM
Perth Concert Hall
Box Office: 01738 621 031

Strauss & Mahler Four

Strauss & Mahler Four

A jingle of sleigh bells and a flurry of birdsong: Mahler’s Fourth Symphony begins like Mozart and ends with a child’s idea of heaven. But that’s only how the concert finishes. Thomas Søndergård kicks things off with the musical anarchy of Richard Strauss’ Till Eulenspiegel – classical music’s ultimate prankster.…

Fri 8 May 2020, 7.30PM
Usher Hall, Edinburgh
Box Office: 0131 228 1155

Strauss & Mahler Four

Strauss & Mahler Four

A jingle of sleigh bells and a flurry of birdsong: Mahler’s Fourth Symphony begins like Mozart and ends with a child’s idea of heaven. But that’s only how the concert finishes. Thomas Søndergård kicks things off with the musical anarchy of Richard Strauss’ Till Eulenspiegel – classical music’s ultimate prankster.…

Sat 9 May 2020, 7.30PM
Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
Box Office: 0141 353 8000

Strauss & Mahler Four

Rachmaninov Symphony No2

Is Rachmaninov’s Second the most romantic symphony ever written? With its vast, storm-swept vistas, endless melodies and rapturous love-song of a slow movement, it’s definitely a contender. Thomas Søndergård conducts it with unbridled emotion – the climax of a concert that begins with Shostakovich and Britten at their darkest. Britten’s…

Thu 21 May 2020, 7.30PM
Music Hall, Aberdeen
Box Office: 01224 641 122

Rachmaninov Symphony No2

Rachmaninov Symphony No2

Is Rachmaninov’s Second the most romantic symphony ever written? With its vast, storm-swept vistas, endless melodies and rapturous love-song of a slow movement, it’s definitely a contender. Thomas Søndergård conducts it with unbridled emotion – the climax of a concert that begins with Shostakovich and Britten at their darkest. Britten’s…

Fri 22 May 2020, 7.30PM
Usher Hall, Edinburgh
Box Office: 0131 228 1155

Rachmaninov Symphony No2

Rachmaninov Symphony No2

Is Rachmaninov’s Second the most romantic symphony ever written? With its vast, storm-swept vistas, endless melodies and rapturous love-song of a slow movement, it’s definitely a contender. Thomas Søndergård conducts it with unbridled emotion – the climax of a concert that begins with Shostakovich and Britten at their darkest. Britten’s…

Sat 23 May 2020, 7.30PM
Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
Box Office: 0141 353 8000

Rachmaninov Symphony No2

Season Finale: Verdi Requiem

Judgement Day: drums thunder, trumpets blast, and a massed chorus cries out in terror. Verdi’s Requiem might not be what you expect from religious music, but it’s exactly what you’d expect from the supreme master of Italian opera. With the full RSNO Chorus joined by four world-class operatic soloists, hold…

Fri 29 May 2020, 7.30PM
Usher Hall, Edinburgh
Box Office: 0131 228 1155

Season Finale: Verdi Requiem

Season Finale: Verdi Requiem

Judgement Day: drums thunder, trumpets blast, and a massed chorus cries out in terror. Verdi’s Requiem might not be what you expect from religious music, but it’s exactly what you’d expect from the supreme master of Italian opera. With the full RSNO Chorus joined by four world-class operatic soloists, hold…

Sat 30 May 2020, 7.30PM
Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
Box Office: 0141 353 8000

Season Finale: Verdi Requiem

© Royal Scottish National Orchestra 2019