The Rundfunkchor Berlin has just announced its new season, when the ensemble will be appearing under 13 conductors at 11 venues in Berlin as well as other national and international locations with a total of 39 concerts and 24 programs.
»Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy« – in the words of no less an expert than Ludwig van Beethoven. In 2020 the world will be celebrating his 250th birthday. The Rundfunkchor Berlin will have its eyes on the upcoming Beethoven Year already in the coming season, taking on the most important of the composer’s choral works, his »Missa solemnis«. Under the direction of principal conductor Gijs Leenaars the choir will be performing the 90-minute work on 6th/7th October. Its musical partner in this context will be the Kammerakademie Potsdam. At the same time, the production marks the start of the choir’s intense engagement with the work, which is also to be presented as a multimedia experience for the anniversary year in two years time.
After two seasons the ensemble’s Lounge series has long developed from an insider tip to an absolute necessity in many fans' calendars: on three evenings the Rundfunkchor Berlin will be presenting a unique combination of talk, vocal chamber music and a cappella singing in the course of the RundfunkchorLounge. The spectrum in the silent green Kulturquartier ranges from the »Golden« 20s to humour in music, and finally a program to mark 30 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Gayle Tufts, US-American entertainer with a great affinity for classical music, will act as presenter on these occasions.
In cooperation with Berlin orchestras the choir continues to present its broad performance repertoire: together with the Berliner Philharmoniker there is a fresh encounter with Marek Janowski for Bruckner’s Mass No. 2 in E minor as well as a return to the »Passion of St. John« in the scenical realisation by Peter Sellars under the direction of Simon Rattle. In addition, the choir will be singing in Verdi’s »Otello« at the Berlin performances under Daniele Gatti. Together with Vladimir Jurowski and the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin, the program will comprise John Adams’ Christmas oratorio »El Niño« and Brett Dean’s »Vexations and Devotions«, as well as Beethoven’s 9th Symphony and Vaughan Williams’ »Sea Symphony« under Nicholas Carter. Robin Ticciati will be partnering the choir in Debussy's »Le Martyre de Saint Sébastien« and Berlioz’s »Roméo et Juliette« together with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin. The men of the choir can be heard in Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 13 and the women in Messiaen’s »Trois petites liturgies de la présence divine« together with the orchestra under the direction of Ingo Metzmacher. Last but not least, the choir will be interpreting Verdi’s »Quattro pezzi sacri« together with the Staatskapelle Berlin on two Verdi-evenings with Anna Netrebko conducted by Daniel Barenboim. For Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 the choir will be singing as guests alongside the Filharmonia Szczecin in the new Philharmonic Hall in Stettin.
The Rundfunkchor Berlin will be setting the mood for the holiday with its Christmas concert shortly before Christmas Eve, taking place according to tradition in Berlin Cathedral. Under the direction of its principal conductor Gijs Leenaars this year the musical orientation will be eastward: besides Stravinsky’s archaic mass for soloists, choir and ten woodwind instruments, the program comprises a cappella works by Bohuslav Martinů, Leoš Janáček and Anatoli Ljadow. Songs by Alfred Schnittke will also fill the huge domed hall of the cathedral with sound.
After celebrated guest appearances in venues including New York, Hongkong, Paris, Brussels, Athens and most recently in Adelaide, Australia, the »human requiem«, a scenical version of Brahms’ Requiem by Jochen Sandig and a team of Sasha Waltz & Guests, will be returning to Berlin for four evenings in May 2019. In addition, it is envisaged that the production will be seen for the first time in Istanbul during summer 2019.
In the legendary Sing-Along Concert by the Rundfunkchor Berlin directed by conductor laureate Simon Halsey in November Mozart’s Requiem may be heard with 1300 voices at the Berlin Philharmonic Hall. At the same time, the concert forms the conclusion of a Week of Peace initiated by the Association of Berlin Choirs in memory of the end of the First World War 100 years ago. In the Sing-Along Concert on Tour the choir has also been taking the format abroad very successfully for a number of years, together with Interkultur – in June 2019 guest singers are invited to participate in Verdi’s Requiem in Barcelona. Under the motto »Music for A While« more than 1500 children and young people will be raising the roof of the chamber music hall of the Berlin Philharmonic with the Liederbörse – a sing-along concert for Berlin’s school choirs.
Tomorrow’s masters: eight highly-qualified young choral conductors will be working together with the Rundfunkchor Berlin in the context of the Berlin International Masterclass for Choral Conducting at the start of the season. It will be possible to experience the results in a final concert in St. Elisabeth’s Church on 24th August. In the Schola of the Rundfunkchor Berlin, voice students are granted a hands-on experience of professional choir practice: in a chamber music ensemble they will develop works by Feldman and Cage, which will be performed in a Late Night Concert at the Musikfest Berlin on 15th September. In addition, they will be involved in Debussy’s »Le Martyre de Saint Sébastien« together with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin.
Since 2011 the Rundfunkchor Berlin has been consistently introducing primary schoolchildren and teachers to singing with its educational program SING!. In November 2017 this program received the Junge Ohren Prize for its work, the most highly regarded award for musical outreach in the German-speaking countries. Thanks to regular funding by the Senate Office of Education, Youth and Family Berlin it is possible to involve 10 primary schools in 8 districts in the program in cooperation with the district schools of music.