Kirill Petrenko, the new chief conductor of the Berliner Philharmoniker, was born in the Siberian city of Omsk in 1972. At the age of 18, he moved with his family to Vorarlberg in Austria. Following his training as a conductor at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna, he worked from 1997 as an assistant and conductor at the city’s Volksoper; afterwards he was music director at the Meiningen Theater from 1999 to 2002. In 2001, he first attracted international attention when he conducted Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen in the production of Christine Mielitz with designs by Alfred Hrdlicka. From 2002 to 2007, Kirill Petrenko was general music director of the Komische Oper Berlin. He has also appeared at the state opera houses in Munich and Vienna, the Semperoper Dresden, the Royal Opera House in London, the Metropolitan Opera New York, the Opéra Bastille in Paris, the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino and the Salzburg Festival. From 2013 to 2015, he conducted a new production of Wagner’s Ring des Nibelungen at the Bayreuth Festival. In the autumn of 2013, Kirill Petrenko took up his post as general music director of the Bayerische Staatsoper, which he will hold until the end of the 2019/2020 season. On the concert stage, he has conducted the Vienna Philharmonic, the Staatskapelle Berlin and Dresden, the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the London Philharmonic and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. Kirill Petrenko made his debut with the Berliner Philharmoniker in February 2006 with compositions by Bartók and Rachmaninov. In 2015, the orchestra elected him its future chief conductor. Most recently, he appeared with the Philharmoniker in March 2019 conducting works by Schoenberg and Tchaikovsky.
After studying at the State University of Music and Performing Arts in Stuttgart and under Sylvia Geszty, Marlis Petersen began her career as an opera singer at the Städtische Bühnen Nürnberg in 1994. From 1998 to 2003, the soprano was a member of the ensemble at Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Dusseldorf. She made her debut at the Wiener Staasoper in the role of Alban Berg’s Lulu. Marlis Petersen also sang this central role of her repertoire in Peter Konwitschny’s highly acclaimed Hamburg production, at Chicago Lyric Opera and in a new production in Athens. Other key roles include Susanna (Le nozze di Figaro), Pamina (The Magic Flute), Elettra (Idomeneo), Violetta (La traviata), Thaïs (Thaïs) and Manon (Manon Lescaut). She also sang the title role in Aribert Reimann’s opera Medea with great success at the premiere at the Wiener Staatsoper (2010). Marlis Petersen is a regular guest at major venues such as the Opéra de Paris, the Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels, the state opera houses in Berlin, Hamburg, Munich and Vienna, the Metropolitan Opera in New York and the Salzburg and Aix-en-Provence Festivals. She also appears at major concert halls and has worked with conductors such as Christoph Eschenbach, Daniel Harding, Zubin Mehta, Antonio Pappano and Kirill Petrenko. Her keen involvement in historical performance practice also brought her into contact with specialists such as René Jacobs, Ton Koopman, Trevor Pinnock and Helmuth Rilling. In the 2019/2020 season, Marlis Petersen will appear as the Berliner Philharmoniker’s Artist in Residence in numerous orchestral and chamber concerts including in the series Vocal in a song recital entitled “Anderswelt” (Otherworld) in the middle of September 2019. Before this, she will accompany the orchestra on tour to Salzburg, Lucerne and Bucharest. The singer, who won an award at the first Austrian music theatre awards in 2013, was named “Singer of the Year” in 2015 by the magazine Opernwelt for the third time. In Philharmoniker concerts, Marlis Petersen last appeared in the Original sounds series with the Coro e Orchestra Ghislieri under the direction of Giulio Prandi in a programme which included works by Haydn, Mozart and Pergolesi.
Elisabeth Kulman was born in Burgenland, Austria. Initially, she studied Slavic languages and Finno-Ugristics in Vienna. In 1995, she decided to study singing under Helena Łazarska at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna where she graduated with honours. In the same year, the singer made her debut as Pamina in Mozart’s Magic Flute at the Vienna Volksoper and began a successful career as a soprano. Since her change to mezzo-soprano and alto in 2005, Elisabeth Kulman has performed as Gluck’s Orpheus at the Opéra national de Paris and at the Salzburg Festival; she appeared as Prince Orlofsky (Die Fledermaus), as Mrs. Quickly (Falstaff) as well as Herodias (Salome) at the Wiener Staatsoper, and has appeared as Carmen at the Staatsoper unter den Linden in Berlin. Other major roles include Fricka, Erda and Waltraute (The Ring of the Nibelung), Brangäne (Tristan and Isolde), Begbick (Mahagonny) and Marina (Boris Godunov). Since 2010, Elisabeth Kulman has been working as a freelance artist and is a much sought-after soloist in the great music capitals of Vienna, Paris, London, Munich, Berlin, Tokyo, Salzburg and Moscow. She regularly performs with renowned orchestras, working with conductors such as Herbert Blomstedt, Marek Janowski, Mariss Jansons, Zubin Mehta, Kent Nagano and Kirill Petrenko; she had a particularly close association with Nikolaus Harnoncourt. Since 2015, Elisabeth Kulman has concentrated her artistic activities on recitals (together with her accompanist of many years, Eduard Kutrowatz), concerts, and concert performances of operas. She is particularly fond of unconventional projects such as “Mussorgsky Dis-Covered” with jazz quartet and her solo programme “La femme c’est moi”, in which she presents pieces ranging from Carmen to the Beatles. In mid-December 2017, Elisabeth Kulman made her debut with the Berliner Philharmoniker in three concerts of Beethoven’s Missa solemnis, conducted by Christian Thielemann.
Benjamin Bruns began his singing career as an alto soloist in the boys’ choir of his home town of Hannover. After training privately for four years with Peter Sefcik, he studied at Hamburg University of Music and Theatre under the Kammersängerin Renate Behle. During his studies, he was offered his first engagement with the Bremen Theater, which enabled him to build up a broad repertoire early on and was soon followed by an ensemble contract with Oper Köln. Via the Saxon State Opera Dresden, his career took him directly to the Wiener Staatsoper, where he still has a residency contract with the house. He makes regular guest appearances at the large opera houses in Dresden, Munich, Vienna and Madrid, and he is also a welcome guest at the Salzburg and Bayreuth Festivals. His repertoire includes roles such as Belmonte (The Abduction from the Seraglio), Tamino (The Magic Flute), Don Ottavio (Don Giovanni), Ferrando (Così fan tutte), Camille de Rosillon (The Merry Widow), Lysander (A Midsummer Night’s Dream) Don Ramiro (La Cenerentola), Boris Grigorievič (Katja Kabanova), Erik (The Flying Dutchman), Loge (Das Rheingold) and the roles of the singer in the two Strauss operas Capriccio and Der Rosenkavalier. Benjamin Bruns also enjoys an excellent reputation as an oratorio and lieder singer and as such is also at home in the great concert halls. He is a prize winner of the National Singing Competition in Berlin, the Hamburg Mozart Competition as well as the international singing competition of the Kammeroper Schloss Rheinsberg. Special awards include Theater Bremen’s Kurt Hübner Prize in 2008 and the young artist prize at the Schleswig Holstein Musik Festival in 2009. In concerts of the Berliner Philharmoniker, the singer was first heard in mid-June 2014 as part of the festival at the Kulturforum in an open-air performance of Carl Orff’s Carmina burana; the conductor was Sir Simon Rattle.
Kwangchul Youn received his musical training in his homeland of South Korea, in Sofia and in Berlin. A winner of several competitions, he made his debut in Seoul in 1988. From 1993 to 2004, he was an ensemble member of the Staatsoper Unter den Linden Berlin; in 2018 he was awarded the title “Kammersänger”. An internationally sought-after soloist, he has appeared in recent years at all renowned opera houses in Europe and beyond, including at the Vienna and Berlin state opera houses, the Metropolitan Opera New York, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, the Bavarian State Opera Munich, the Semperoper Dresden, the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona, the Opéra National de Paris, the Lyric Opera Chicago, the Teatro alla Scala and the Teatro Regio in Turin. He has also performed at the Bayreuth and Salzburg Festivals, the BBC Proms, the Dresden Music Festival, the Ludwigsburg Festival, the Ravinia Festival, the Klangbogen Wien and the Beethovenfest Bonn. Kwangchul Youn’s repertoire includes the great bass parts of Mozart, Beethoven, Rossini, Gounod, Verdi, Tchaikovsky and Strauss, and those of Richard Wagner in particular. In addition to his operatic work, he appears regularly as a concert singer with renowned orchestras. In the recent past, Kwangchul Youn was to be seen as Ferrando (Il trovatore) at the Bayerische Staastsoper in Munich, as King Henry (Lohengrin) and Simone Boccanegra at the Wiener Staatsoper, as Sarastro (TheMagic Flute) and Pogner (Die Meistersinger) at the Staatsoper Unter den Linden in Berlin as well as Gurnemanz (Parsifal) at Hamburg State Opera. In mid-May 2019, he sang the bass part in Gustav Mahler’s Eighth Symphony conducted by Kirill Petrenko at the Festspielhaus in Bregenz. Kwangchoul Youn first performed with the Berliner Philharmoniker in May 2002 under the baton of Daniel Barenboim in Mozart’s Requiem; he most recently participated in the orchestra’s Berlin concerts in three performances of Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius in mid-January 2012; the conductor was Daniel Barenboim.
With around 60 concerts annually and international guest performances, the Rundfunkchor Berlin (Berlin Radio Choir) is one of the world’s foremost choruses. The exceptional breadth of its repertoire, its stylistic versatility, delight in experimentation and richly nuanced sound have made it the chosen partner of major orchestras and conductors. In Berlin the choir has long-standing partnerships with the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester, the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester and the Berliner Philharmoniker. Many recordings and awards, including three Grammy Awards, document its work. With its experimental project series, in collaboration with artists from diverse disciplines, the Rundfunkchor Berlin is breaking down the classical concert format and adopting new modes of choral music for a new audience: The “human requiem”, an interactive scenic version of Brahms’s German Requiem staged by Jochen Sandig and a team of Sasha Waltz & Guests, became a milestone, with guest performances in Europe, New York, Hongkong and Australia. For its project »LUTHER dancing with the gods« the choir cooperated with director Robert Wilson in October 2017. With annual activities such as the Sing-along Concert and the “Liederbörse” (Song Exchange) for children and young people or the education programme SING! the choir invites people of various walks of life to the world of singing. Academy and Schola support the next generation of professionals. Founded in 1925 the ensemble was shaped by conductors including Helmut Koch, Dietrich Knothe, Robin Gritton and Simon Halsey (2001–2015). With the 2015/16 season Gijs Leenars took over as principal conductor and artistic director. The Rundfunkchor last appeared with the Berliner Philharmoniker in April 2019 in concert performances of Verdi’s Otello conducted by Zubin Mehta.