“The unforgettable performances…marked one of Scotland’s proudest periods in orchestra history.”

The Guardian

“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.”

Berliner Morgenpost

“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.”

Arts ATL

Over the course of a career spanning 45 years, Sir Donald Runnicles has built his reputation on long-lasting relationships with major orchestral and operatic institutions. Focusing on depth over breadth, he has held chief artistic leadership positions at the Deutsche Oper Berlin (since 2009), San Francisco Opera (1992-2008), Grand Teton Music Festival (since 2005), BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra (2009-2016), and Orchestra of St. Luke’s (2001-2007). Sir Donald was the Principal Guest Conductor of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra for two decades (2001-2023), and he is the first ever Principal Guest Conductor of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra (since 2019).

Known as a consummate Wagnerian and conductor of German Romantic repertoire, Maestro Runnicles leads the DOB this season in productions of Parsifal and two full performances of the Ring cycle. He will also conduct a new production of Il Trittico by the young German theater director Pinar Karabulut. For the Metropolitan Opera, he conducts eight performances of the Otto Schenk production of Tannhäuser. He appears as guest conductor with the Dresden Philharmonic, Dallas Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony, and Utah Symphony, where he will lead the world premiere of a new concerto written and performed by Sir Stephen Hough.

Runnicles tours regularly with the DOB to destinations such as the Edinburgh International Festival, the London Proms, Royal Opera Oman, and Dubai. He has joined the Philadelphia Orchestra in tours to China, summer residencies at Bravo! Vail Music Festival in Colorado, and annual Subscription concerts. He is a frequent guest conductor with the Chicago Symphony, with a performance history dating as far back as 1997. He has a long relationship with the Vienna State Opera, conducting new productions of Parsifal, Britten’s Billy Budd, and Peter Grimes, as well as other core repertoire pieces.

Mr. Runnicles’ extensive discography includes 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.