John Storgårds (photo: Marco Borggreve)

John Storgårds and Matthew McDonald

Anton Bruckner wrestled with self-doubt, frequently revising his symphonies – but not his Sixth. We don’t know what he liked so much about the work. Perhaps the inexorable rhythmic pounding in the first movement? The strangely eerie Scherzo? The interpreter for this performance is making his debut with the Berliner Philharmoniker: John Storgårds, chief guest conductor of the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra. Before the symphony, Matthew McDonald, first principal bass of the Berliner Philharmoniker, will appear as soloist in the world premiere of a concerto for double bass by Gerald Barry. According to Barry, the work resembles a dreamlike scene with actors whose speech seems both familiar and strange.

Berliner Philharmoniker

John Storgårds conductor

Matthew McDonald double bass

Carl Nielsen

Helios, overture, op. 17

Gerald Barry

Aus Die bitteren Tränen der Petra von Kant, Concerto for Double Bass and Orchestra, commissioned by the Berliner Philharmoniker Foundation (Première)

Matthew McDonald double bass

Anton Bruckner

Symphony No. 6 in A major

Dates and Tickets

Thu 02 Jun 2022, 20:00

Main Auditorium | Introduction: 19:15

Series E

Fri 03 Jun 2022, 20:00

Main Auditorium | Introduction: 19:15

Series F


John Storgårds

“To play the violin and conduct”, says John Storgårds, is “a good combination. I need violin playing. It helps me to continue developing.” And indeed, the Finnish musician has scored comparable triumphs as an orchestral director and a violin virtuoso. Storgårds first studied the violin with the legendary Chaim Taub in Israel and became concertmaster of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra before going to Helsinki to train as a conductor with Jorma Panula and Eri Klas at the Sibelius Academy. Storgårds achieved international recognition both through his thrilling and refined performances and through his creative sense of programming. “Nowadays,” says the avowed Harnoncourt admirer, “we can shift, so to speak, into the style of Mozart, Schumann or Shostakovich, because we know, for example, with what differentiation the bow has to be applied for the interpretation to be stylistically appropriate.” It's no wonder that Storgårds is a welcome guest conductor of many leading orchestras. His vast repertoire includes all the symphonies of Sibelius, Nielsen, Bruckner, Brahms, Beethoven, Mozart, Schubert and Schumann, as well as rarities by Nordic composers such as Hafliði Hallgrímsson, Leevi Madetoja, Selim Palmgren und Uuno Klami. He also devotes himself regularly to new works, many of which have been dedicated to him – among others, Per Nørgård’s Eighth Symphony and Kaija Saariaho’s Nocturne for solo violin.

Matthew McDonald

Matthew McDonald comes from Canberra, Australia. As a child he really just wanted to play jazz and rock music, so his parents gave him an electric bass for Christmas – but only on condition that he also learned to play the double bass. McDonald very quickly fell in love with the big instrument’s mellow, dark sound. In 1996 he began his studies with Max McBride at the Canberra School of Music, later continuing in Sydney with Kees Boersma and finishing in 2000 with a Bachelor of Music degree. From 2000 to 2001 he was a scholar of the Berliner Philharmoniker’s Karajan Academy and was then engaged as assistant principal bass of the Danish National Orchestra, a post he relinquished in order to take his concert exam with Esko Laine at the Hanns Eisler Hochschule für Musik in Berlin. Principal positions followed with the Ensemble Modern (2003-06), Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin and Berlin’s Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester before he came to the Berliner Philharmoniker as principal double bass. Among his chamber-music partners are Imogen Cooper, Radovan Vlatković, Mark Padmore and the Kuss Quartet, and he is also a regular visitor to the Open Chamber Music seminar at Prussia Cove in Cornwall.

John Storgårds (photo: Marco Borggreve)

Matthew McDonald (photo: Sebastian Haenel)