Sir Donald Runnicles © Simon Pauly

Sir Donald Runnicles

Future chief conductor of the Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra

Sir Donald Runnicles will be Chief Conductor of the Dresden Philharmonic from the 2025/26 season. As Chief Conductor of the Dresden Philharmonic, Sir Donald Runnicles will undertake three projects in the 2024/25 season: Mahler and Haydn to open the season, Beethoven at the turn of the year and Britten's War Requiem on 13 February 2025, the 80th anniversary of the destruction of Dresden.

"When I came to the Dresden Philharmonic for the first time in December 2022, I was immediately captivated by the beauty and outstanding sound of the concert hall. And that continued with the orchestra: I encountered excellent musical quality, great trust and a way of playing together that I had rarely experienced before. For me, the musicians of the Dresden Philharmonic embody the ideal of a great orchestra: together we will achieve a great deal artistically. I am absolutely certain that, together with our audiences in this magnificent concert hall, we will master the tasks we have set ourselves, but also those that our times demand of a modern orchestra. Bringing music to life in the centre of the city and at the same time in the centre of the world - that's what I'm passionately committed to!

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.