Donald Runnicles extends his contract to the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra till 2015

Donald Runnicles

The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra today announced that Donald Runnicles will continue as its Chief Conductor with a contract that runs through 2015. The announcement comes as the BBC SSO opens its 2011-12 Concert season on 29th September with the Scottish premiere of James MacMillan’s St. John Passion under Runnicles’ baton.

Donald Runnicles said: Each time I rejoin this remarkable orchestra, I am struck and delighted by their extraordinary passion and commitment.  It is not a gift they give only to me, they share their infectious enthusiasm with our other artistic partners, our guests and above-all they show it through the respect they give each other. I am honoured and happy to renew our association and to build on the foundation we began laying just two seasons ago. We can all look forward to wonderful music making in the future.”

Roger Wright, Controller, BBC Radio 3 and Director, BBC Proms said: “I think there is something particularly distinctive about the work of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, which at its heart is about the relationships it has with particular artists. The appointment of Donald Runnicles to the senior position with the orchestra was a really vital next stage in the orchestra’s artistic development, and the success of that partnership, already seen and heard, is I think one of the great stories in British music of recent years.”

Ken MacQuarrie, Director of BBC Scotland said: “The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra is one of our most valuable cultural assets and I can think of no finer international ambassador than Donald Runnicles to stand at the helm of BBC Scotland’s cultural flagship. I am delighted that he will continue his association with our fine band of musicians.”

Gavin Reid, Director of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra said: "Since Donald began collaborating with the BBC SSO in 2001 he has brought nothing less than inspirational musical leadership to the orchestra, creating one incredible musical experience after another for audiences across Scotland and beyond, live in concert and through our many broadcasts. To say I am thrilled to know that Donald will be working with us until 2015 is something of an understatement."

The pre-eminent Scottish conductor first worked with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra in 2001. He became Chief Conductor in 2009, and his appointment was seen as a major coup for the BBC.

Runnicles’ continued commitment to the BBC SSO reaffirms his dedication to symphonic music, both core and contemporary. This versatility is particularly valuable to the BBC SSO and its commitment to providing audiences throughout Scotland and beyond with core repertoire, whilst also championing the works of new composers. Most recently, Runnicles and the orchestra performed at the BBC Proms and the Edinburgh International Festival.

Born in Edinburgh, Runnicles is also General Music Director of the Deutsche Oper Berlin, Music Director of the Grand Teton Music Festival, and Principal Guest Conductor of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.  He was awarded the OBE in 2004.

Stephen Duffy, Marketing Communications Executive, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra   0141-422 6730 

Notes to Editors

1.    Donald Runnicles
2.    BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra

1. Donald Runnicles

Edinburgh-born Donald Runnicles is Chief Conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, having taken up the post in September 2009. It has recently been announced that his contract as Chief Conductor has been extended until 2015. He also holds concurrent positions as General Music Director of the Deutsche Oper Berlin, Music Director of the Grand Teton Music Festival (Wyoming, USA), and Principal Guest Conductor of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. He first conducted the BBC SSO at the 2001 Edinburgh International Festival in a performance of Berlioz’s The Trojans. Since then he has appeared with the orchestra virtually every summer at either the BBC Proms or Edinburgh International Festival – most recently for performances of Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé and Mahler’s Second Symphony respectively. Last season he led his first European tour with the orchestra.

Donald Runnicles began conducting in Mannheim, and was an assistant at the Bayreuth Festival during the 1980s before making his North American debut in 1988, conducting Berg’s Lulu at the Metropolitan Opera, New York. From 1989 to 1993 he was General Music Director of the City of Freiburg. In 1990, following two Ring cycles for San Francisco Opera, he became its Music Director for 17 seasons, during which he led more than 65 operas, amongst them the world premiere of John Adams’s Doctor Atomic, and the American premiere of Messiaen’s St. Francis of Assisi. He has frequently conducted at the Salzburg and Bayreuth Festivals, at many of the world’s leading opera houses (Metropolitan Opera, Vienna, La Scala Milan, Paris, Glyndebourne, and Munich), and is a welcome guest to many of the world’s most prestigious orchestras, including the Berlin Philharmonic, Vienna Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, BBC Symphony and London Symphony orchestras.

Donald Runnicles was awarded the OBE in 2004 and holds honorary degrees from the University of Edinburgh and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

2. BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra

The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra was formed in December 1935 and is a key contributor to BBC Scotland’s broadcasting and cultural role. Now in its 76th year, it performs to large and enthusiastic audiences in venues across Scotland, and carries out a busy schedule of concerts and broadcasts for BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio Scotland and BBC television.

Based at City Halls since 2006, the BBC SSO is Scotland’s leading champion of new music, and has established strong links with local communities through an innovative learning programme.

A past recipient of the Royal Philharmonic Society Award for best orchestra, it has received a number of prizes for its commercial recordings, including four Gramophone Awards.

Under the artistic leadership of its Chief Conductor, Donald Runnicles, and Principal Guest Conductor Ilan Volkov, it appears annually at the BBC Proms and the Edinburgh International Festival, as well as at major festivals throughout the world. Recent highlights include Mahler’s Second Symphony at the Edinburgh International Festival, and the World Premiere of Robin Holloway’s Fifth Concerto for Orchestra at this year’s BBC Proms, both under Donald Runnicles. Forthcoming highlights include the world premiere of a BBC Commission from Artist-in-Association Matthias Pintscher, a complete cycle of Prokofiev’s piano concertos and the continuation of a Vaughan Williams symphony cycle under Andrew Manze.