Simon Halsey will not be extending his contract as principal conductor of Rundfunkchor Berlin after its current term ends in summer 2016. The conductor and Hans-Hermann Rehberg, the chorus’s managing director, made the joint announcement at the ensemble’s annual press conference on 14 May 2013 at Kraftwerk in the centre of Berlin.

Simon Halsey has served as the Berlin Radio Choir’s chief conductor since 2001. Their shared accomplishments are reflected in the numerous awards garnered by the ensemble under his leadership, including the Grammy in 2008, 2009 and 2011. During the past twelve years, Halsey has established its reputation throughout the international music world as one of the top choral ensembles and partner to the leading orchestras and conductors. In 2005, together with managing director Hans-Hermann Rehberg, he also launched the initiative Broadening the Scope of Choral Music. It presents a series of concerts featuring unconventional venues and interdisciplinary formats – for example, human requiem (after Brahms), a recent collaboration with Sasha Waltz & Guests, the performances of which have even included one in the shell of Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie. In addition, Halsey has initiated numerous community projects, such as the Sing-Along Concerts, which have been widely imitated.

Simon Halsey: “It was a very tough decision. Working with an ensemble like this one is a privilege and deeply fulfilling. Together we’ve gone through a period of crucial developments. But it’s better to leave when things are going well – that’s the time to make room for new ideas. In 2016 I’ll have held the post for over 15 years – that’s a long time. It’s also time for me to be living closer to my family again. Of course I will continue to devote myself wholeheartedly to the chorus until my contract ends, and will support it to the best of my abilities in the search for a successor. There are still lots of wonderful concerts and activities ahead before 2016 – and even after that Rundfunkchor Berlin will surely remain a part of my life.”

Axel Scheidig, Chorus Board: “We are deeply sorry that Simon has decided not to extend his contract, but we respect his personal decision. His insistence on perfection has contributed enormously to the chorus’s artistic development. His inexhaustible enthusiasm, his openness and his bold embrace of new ideas will continue to have their effect on the chorus in the future. We look forward to the many exciting projects with Simon that await us over the next three years and, beyond that, to setting the course together for the future – including our continued collaboration with him.”

Hans-Hermann Rehberg, Chorus Managing Director: “Simon has had a decisive influence on Rundfunkchor Berlin. Not least on account of his perfectionism and his unconditional determination to set high standards, the chorus today is recognized for its unqualified commitment to excellence. Simon’s tireless dedication to innovative concert formats and community projects for generating choral-music enthusiasm among as wide a public as possible has given the ensemble a unique profile. I regret his decision as much as I respect it, and am very pleased that he will also be working with Rundfunkchor Berlin past 2016.”

 

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