“The unforgettable performances…marked one of Scotland’s proudest periods in orchestra history.”
“In January, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra gave a memorable performance of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto with violinist Nicola Benedetti as soloist, Sibelius’ rarely heard Symphony No. 7, and Beethoven’s masterful Leonore Overture No. 3. Maestro Donald Runnicles was terrific. Some thought that he might make a good replacement for Van Zweden when the concert was over.”
“Donald Runnicles manages to perfectly merge both worlds (of European classical music and Balinese Gamelan sounds), carving out with the Deutsche Oper Orchestra every naturalist pounding; allowing erotic chaos to break free from the strict bedrock; always guiding their return to a transparent sound.”
“Not one to rush or gloss over detail, Runnicles gave a spacious and luminous reading, giving both his soloists and the ensemble time not to wallow but merely to breathe and savor every nuance. So thoroughly evocative was the performance, it was as if the group had rehearsed the piece bar by bar…It’s been over a decade since Runnicles last conducted the Cleveland Orchestra, and it took an unfortunate illness in Dohnanyi to get him here this time. He shouldn’t be such an infrequent guest. His Mahler alone this week more than justifies a speedy return.”
Cleveland Plain Dealer
“Listening to the performance conducted by Donald Runnicles felt like witnessing Beethoven’s score coming alive exactly as Beethoven wrote and envisaged it. Nothing more, nothing less: Beethoven left nothing to chances, marked all his instructions for tempi, dynamics and expression with great care. All his markings, including the great many sforzando notes, were faithfully reproduced at this performance. Beethoven’s numerous changes of tempi seemed to sit comfortably with Donald Runnicles. Watching him conduct, that is seeing him from the auditorium with his back to the audience, at times I thought that Beethoven might have conducted similarly.”
Seen and Heard International
“One of the pleasures of the event was experiencing Runnicles in this particular music. Those who primarily associate him with the more refulgent offerings of the Romantic repertoire should be quite pleased with his work here. Both works skew a bit toward the lighter end of the output from their respective composers, and Runnicles responded with a fleetness of touch and keen dynamic awareness that proved in every way satisfying…Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4 must be one of the most underrated pieces in the standard repertory, […] but when delivered with such elation as Runnicles accomplished here, it is irresistible.”
Sir Donald Runnicles is the General Music Director of the Deutsche Oper Berlin and Music Director of the Grand Teton Music Festival, as well as Principal Guest Conductor of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. In 2019 Runnicles also took up post as the Sydney Symphony Orchestra’s first ever Principal Guest Conductor. He additionally holds the title of Conductor Emeritus of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, having served as Chief Conductor from 2009-2016.
In the 2021-22 season, maestro Runnicles will lead performances of the complete Ring Cycle, Lohengrin, Tannhäuser, Der Zwerg, Madama Butterfly, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, and Britten’s War Requiem at the Deutsche Oper Berlin; Elektra at the Metropolitan Opera; and concerts with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, including a concert version of Hansel and Gretel.
Sir Donald enjoys close and enduring relationships with many of the most significant opera companies and symphony orchestras. His previous posts include Music Director of the San Francisco Opera (1992-2008), during which he led world premieres of John Adams’s Doctor Atomic, Conrad Susa’s Les Liaisons dangereuses, and the U.S. premiere of Messiaen’s Saint François d’Assise; Principal Conductor of the Orchestra of St. Luke’s (2001-2007); and General Music Director of the Theater Freiburg and Orchestra (1989-1993).
Mr. Runnicles’ extensive discography includes complete recordings of Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde, Mozart’s Requiem, Orff’s Carmina Burana, Britten’s Billy Budd, Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel, Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi, and Aribert Reimann’s L’invisible. His recording of Wagner arias with Jonas Kaufmann and the Orchestra of the Deutsche Oper Berlin won the 2013 Gramophone prize for Best Vocal Recording, and his recording of Janáček’s Jenůfa with the Orchestra and Chorus of the Deutsche Oper Berlin was nominated for a 2016 GRAMMY award for Best Opera Recording.
Sir Donald Runnicles was born and raised in Edinburgh, Scotland. He was appointed OBE in 2004, and was made a Knight Bachelor in 2020. He holds honorary degrees from the University of Edinburgh, the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.