Sir Simon Rattle was chief conductor of the Berliner Philharmoniker and artistic director of the Berlin Philharmonie from September 2002 until June 2018. Even before taking up his post as principal conductor, Simon Rattle had already collaborated regularly with the Berliner Philharmoniker for fifteen years: he conducted the orchestra for the first time in November 1987 in Mahler’s Sixth Symphony. Most recently, he conducted the orchestra in three concerts with works by Helmut Lachenmann and Robert Schumann in March 2019. In September 2017, Simon Rattle took up the position of Music Director of the London Symphony Orchestra. Rattle is also principal artist of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and works with leading orchestras on both sides of the Atlantic. Born in Liverpool in 1955, Simon Rattle studied at London’s Royal Academy of Music. In 1980 he became principal conductor and artistic adviser of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, stepping up to music director from September 1990 until August 1998. In the concert hall and opera house, Simon Rattle’s extensive repertoire covers compositions ranging from the Baroque era to contemporary music. He has conducted operas by Rameau, Mozart, Puccini, Wagner, Debussy and Poulenc in Aix-en-Provence, London, Salzburg, New York, Baden-Baden and Berlin. Music education is an important part of Sir Simon’s work; the Education Programme of the Berliner Philharmoniker was established on his initiative. For this commitment, as well as for his artistic work, Simon Rattle has won many awards: In 1994 Simon Rattle was knighted by the Queen of England. He also received the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, a knighthood in the French Legion of Honour and the British Order of Merit.
Jonathan Kelly was born in Hampshire, England. He initially read history at the University of Cambridge but later studied the oboe at the Royal Academy of Music in London and at the Paris Conservatoire. He became principal oboist with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in 1993, remaining there until 2003. During that period he appeared frequently not only with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe but also as a concert artist in Birmingham, Cardiff, Chicago, Helsinki and Vienna. He was also a member of the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, in which capacity he took part in the world premiere of Thomas Adès’ Sonata da caccia and in the local premiere of Thea Musgrave’s oboe concerto Helios. Since the autumn of 2003 Jonathan Kelly has been principal oboist with the Berliner Philharmoniker. He also appears with the orchestra’s wind formation and other chamber groups; he is a frequent guest with the Scharoun Ensemble and takes part in its Festival in Zermatt. Jonathan Kelly gives masterclasses all over the world, he teaches at the Berliner Philharmoniker’s Karajan Academy, he is a visiting professor and member of the Royal Academy of Music, and is an honorary member of the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. In mid-April 2013, together with his orchestra colleague Marie-Pierre Langlamet, he performed the Double Concerto for Oboe, Harp and Chamber Orchestra by Witold Lutosławski on three evenings under the direction of Sir Simon Rattle.
Iwona Sobotka studied singing at the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music in Warsaw and at the Escuela Superior de Música Reina Sofía in Madrid. The Polish soprano attracted international attention in 2004 as Grand Prix winner of the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Belgium. Other successes include winning the East & West Artists International Auditions in New York, whose prize included her debut recital at Carnegie Hall. Since then, Iwona Sobotka has appeared as Violetta (La traviata) in Poznań, as Micaëla (Carmen) in Kraków, as Ygraine (Ariane et Barbe-Bleue) at the Opéra national de Paris and at the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival in the title role of Stanisław Moniuszko’s Halka and as Liù (Turandot). Recent engagements include her debut at the Baden-Baden Easter Festival as a Flowermaiden (Parsifal) with the Berliner Philharmoniker conducted by Sir Simon Rattle, Pamina (Die Zauberflöte) at Teatr Wielki in Warsaw, and Mimì (La Bohème) at Opera Podlaska in Białystok. Iwona Sobotka also sang the soprano parts in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony (with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra as well as with the Berliner Philharmoniker during the 2016 Asian tour) and in Brahms’ Deutsches Requiem (with the Berlin and Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestras). Concert engagements have taken the singer to prestigious orchestras (London Symphony Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Staatskapelle Berlin, Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks and others), under the baton of conductors such as Sir Colin Davies, Marco Armiliato, Sylvain Cambreling and Massimo Zanetti. The last time Iwona Sobotka appeared in the concerts of the Berliner Philharmoniker Foundation was at the beginning of April 2018 as a Flowermaiden in a concert performance of Richard Wagner’s Parsifal, conducted by Sir Simon Rattle.
David Soar was born in Nottinghamshire and studied at London’s Royal Academy of Music and National Opera Studio. In 2010, the British bass made his debut as Quinault (Adriana Lecouvreur) at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden in London and has since made guest appearances at leading opera houses. Further engagements have taken him to the Metropolitan Opera New York, the Glyndebourne Festival, the Salzburg Festival and the Grange Festival. The singer has also appeared at Opera Holland Park London, English National Opera and Welsh National Opera. On the concert stage, David Soar has appeared with the Philharmonia Orchestra, the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, the Hallé Orchestra and the Orchestre national de Lyon, among others, as well as with period instrument ensembles such as The English Concert and the Academy of Ancient Music, working with conductors such as Esa-Pekka Salonen, Sir Charles Mackerras, Sir Andrew Davis, Alain Altinoglu, Harry Bicket, Richard Egarr, Philippe Herreweghe and Sir Mark Elder. The singer now makes his debut in Berliner Philharmoniker concerts.
With around 60 concerts annually and international guest performances, 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. 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.