The MDR Radio Choir is the largest and most traditional choir of the public broadcaster and is considered one of the most sought-after ensembles of its kind in the world. Conductors such as Herbert von Karajan, Kurt Masur, Colin Davis, Claudio Abbado, Simon Rattle, Neville Marriner, Seiji Ozawa, Lorin Maazel, Bernard Haitink, Riccardo Muti and Daniel Barenboim have paid tribute to the MDR Radio Choir. The singers also regularly perform with the MDR Symphony Orchestra and its chief conductor Dennis Russell Davies. Other artistic partners for the 2022/2023 season include the Gewandhaus Orchestra under Andris Nelsons, the Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra under Marek Janowski and the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra under Alain Altinoglu.
The ensemble proves that it is not only an excellent partner to the most important orchestras, it also proves this with highly acclaimed a cappella interpretations. Secular and sacred music, ensemble singing and choral symphonies are equally part of the repertoire, which spans almost a millennium of music history. As a specialist ensemble for contemporary music, the 73 choristers have also made a name for themselves with numerous premieres and first performances.
Philipp Ahmann has been the artistic director of the MDR Radio Choir since January 2020, succeeding Risto Joost. He was already associated with the choir as a guest conductor and has shaped the choir's musical profile with a cappella programs and CD recordings, among other things. His predecessors in this position include Herbert Kegel, Gert Frischmuth and Howard Arman, who also developed the extremely successful Nachtgesänge format.
The ensemble has recorded almost 250 records and CDs - many of them award-winning. In 2017, the singers received the International Classical Music Award for their recording of Max Reger's Motets op. 110 and the Diapason d'Or in March 2018 for their recording of Sergei Rachmaninov's Vespers under the direction of Risto Joost. Most recently, a recording of motets by Anton Bruckner and Michael Haydn, conducted by Philipp Ahmann, was released in 2021.
The MDR Radio Choir, which was awarded the European Culture Prize in 2013, successfully acts as a musical ambassador for Central Germany via the European Broadcasting Union as well as on tours and guest performances worldwide.