Ton Koopman, born in Zwolle (The Netherlands) in 1944, studied musicology, organ and harpsichord in Amsterdam. He received the Prix dʼExcellence for both instruments. Fascinated by Baroque music and by historically informed performance practice on period instruments, he formed the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra in 1979 and the Amsterdam Baroque Choir in 1992. In the course of his career he has performed in leading concert halls and at international festivals on all five continents and as an organist has played on the finest instruments in Europe. Together with his Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and Choir he has appeared regularly as harpsichordist and conductor at the major European concert venues, in New York and Tokyo, with a repertoire ranging from the early Baroque to the late Classics. He has also conducted some of the most famous orchestras in Europe, the United States and Japan, including the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Boston, Chicago and Vienna Symphony Orchestras, the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks and the Munich Philharmonic. Between 1994 and 2004 Ton Koopman recorded the complete Bach cantatas, an ambitious project which received many awards; this was followed in 2005-2014 with a complete recording of Buxtehude’s works. Recipient of many distinctions, Koopman teaches at the University of Leiden and was made an honorary professor at the Musikhochschule Lübeck in 2016. He is honorary fellow of the Royal Academy of Music in London, artistic director of the Festival Itinéraire Baroque in France and artistic advisor of the Guangzhou Opera House in China. He has edited the complete Handel Organ Concertos for Breitkopf & Härtel and has published new editions of Handel’s Messiah and Buxtehudeʼs Das Jüngste Gericht (Carus). Ton Koopman made his debut conducting the Berliner Philharmoniker in January 2010 with works by Bach and Haydn; in February 2017 he led the students of the Karajan Academy in a concert with Bach, Haydn and Schubert.
The Cuban soprano Yetzabel AriasFernandez studied choral conducting at the Amadeo Roldán Conservatory and singing at the Instituto Superior de Arte in Havana. She went on to complete her training in Italy at the Accademia Internazionale della Musica in Milan under Vincenzo Mann and Roberto Gini. The singer has won numerous competitions and regularly appears with Italian Early music ensembles such as the Accademia Bizantina, La Venexiana and I Barocchisti, and with conductors including Ottavio Dantone, Diego Fasolis, Jordi Savall and Helmuth Rilling. Since 2013, she has been working more closely with Ton Koopman, performing works by Bach, Handel, Mozart and Haydn. In the spring of 2017, she joined him on a European tour together with the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra with Bach’s St Matthew Passion. On the opera stage, Yetzabel Arias’ roles have included the messenger in Monteverdi’s Orfeo, Piacere in Handel’s Trionfo del Tempo and del Disinganno and Elvira in Mozart’s Don Giovanni. She has been a frequent guest at the International Handel Festival in Karlsruhe in roles such as Agileo in Teseo. Yetzabel Arias now makes her debut with the Berliner Philharmoniker.
Wiebke Lehmkuhl, born in Oldenburg, received her vocal training from Ulla Groenewold and from Hanna Schwarz at the Hamburg University of Music and Theatre. After guest engagements at Kiel Opera House and the state operas of Hamburg and Hanover, she joined Zurich Opera as a permanent ensemble member in the 2008/09 season. Here she appeared as Erda (Der Ring des Nibelungen), Magdalene (Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg), Annina (Der Rosenkavalier), Hedwige (Guillaume Tell), and in concert performances of Handel’s Messiah and Schumann’s oratorio Paradise and the Peri. The contralto has also appeared at renowned opera houses such as the Opéra Bastille in Paris and at the Bavarian State Opera in Munich. In 2012, she made her debut at the Salzburg Festival as third lady in a new production of Mozart’s Zauberflöte. The following year, she performed there again in a concert performance of Walter Braunfels’ Jeanne d’Arc in the role of Lison. Wiebke Lehmkuhl is also successful as a concert and oratorio singer. In 2011 she made her debut at the Vienna Musikverein and at the Lucerne Festival in performances of Handel’s La resurrezione, conducted by Nikolaus Harnoncourt. Among the conductors she has also worked with are Reinhard Goebel, Daniel Harding, René Jacobs, Marc Minkowski and Kent Nagano. Wiebke Lehmkuhl made her debut in concerts of the Berliner Philharmoniker in December 2013 in Schumann’s Faust Scenes, conducted by Daniel Harding. She last appeared with the orchestra a few days ago in C.P.E. Bach’s cantata Heilig, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin.
Tilman Lichdi grew up in Heilbronn and studied trumpet under Günther Beetz in Mannheim before changing to studying voice in Würzburg with Charlotte Lehmann. From 2005 to 2013, the tenor was a permanent member of the ensemble at the Staatsstheater in Nuremberg where he appeared in roles including Daland’s steersman in The Flying Dutchman, Count Almaviva in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Tamino in the Magic Flute and other Mozart roles. Tilman Lichdi has also established himself internationally on the concert stage and in recitals, particularly as a result of his portrayal of the Evangelist in Bach’s oratorios and Passions. In 2010 he made his acclaimed US debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as the Evangelist in the St John Passion under the direction of Bernard Labadie. Lichdi has also worked together with Ton Koopman, Thomas Hengelbrock, Peter Dijkstra, Frieder Bernius, Kent Nagano, Hans-Christoph Rademann, Teodor Currentzis and Herbert Blomstedt in concerts in Europe, the USA and South America. Tilman Lichdi was a winner of the 2012 Bayerischer Kunstförderpreis in the performing arts category. With these concerts, he makes his debut with the Berliner Philharmoniker.
Klaus Mertens studied music and teaching. He received his vocal training with Else Bischof-Bornes and Jakob Stämpfli (lieder, concert singing and oratorio) and Peter Massmann (opera). The bass-baritone has worked closely with many conductors specializing in early music, including Philippe Herreweghe, René Jacobs, Ton Koopman and Nikolaus Harnoncourt. Much in demand as an interpreter of Baroque music, he took part in the complete recording of Bach’s cantatas with the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra under the direction of Ton Koopman. He has also appeared with other distinguished conductors in the Classical repertory, namely Herbert Blomstedt, Andris Nelsons and Kent Nagano. Klaus Mertens also appears regularly at major international festivals in Europe, the United States and Japan. He is also a committed lieder recitalist with a repertory extending from the earliest contributions to the medium to the present day. Klaus Mertens, who was awarded the Telemann prize of the city of Magdeburg in 2016, made his debut with the Berliner Philharmoniker in January 2010 in works by J. S. Bach conducted by Ton Koopman.
The RIAS Chamber Choir, founded in 1948 in Berlin, sets standards in nearly all domains of musical culture – from celebrated historically informed interpretations of the Renaissance and the Baroque through works of Romanticism up to the most demanding world premieres, in which the possibilities of contemporary vocal music are newly defined. Leading artistic personalities have shaped the choir as chief conductors: Uwe Gronostay (1972-1986) laid the foundations for historical performance practice; Marcus Creed (1987-2001) achieved the increasing internationalisation of the ensemble; Daniel Reuss (2003-2006) focused on 20th-century classics and strengthened connections with cooperating partners at home and abroad; Hans-Christoph Rademann (2007-2015) placed particular attention on the German music history of the 17th to 19th century. Numerous awards and prizes document the artistic journey and the high international reputation of the RIAS Chamber Choir, an ensemble of the Rundfunk Orchester und Chöre GmbH (roc Berlin). Starting with the 2017/18 season, Justin Doyle took over as new principal conductor. An enduring and fruitful collaboration binds the choir to René Jacobs, the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra and the Munich Chamber Orchestra. In addition, the RIAS Chamber Choir works together with conductors such as Sir Simon Rattle, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Andrea Marcon, Thomas Hengelbrock, Florian Helgath and Ottavio Dantone. The RIAS Chamber Choir has worked closely with the Berliner Philharmoniker since 1949. Their last joint undertaking was in October 2012, when they performed Vivaldi’s Gloria RV 589 under the direction of Andrea Marcon. Furthermore, within the Originalklang series, the choir performed Handel’s oratorio Belshazzar together with the Accademia Bizantina in June 2016.