Sir Donald Runnicles
The Neil and Sue Williams Chair

Sir Donald Runnicles

Principal Guest Conductor



Sir Donald Runnicles is the General Music Director of the Deutsche Oper Berlin and Music Director of the Grand Teton Music Festival (Jackson, Wyoming), as well as Principal Guest Conductor of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. He is also the Conductor Emeritus of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, having served as its Chief Conductor from 2009-2016. Maestro Runnicles enjoys close and enduring relationships with many of the most significant opera companies and symphony orchestras. He is especially celebrated for his interpretations of Romantic and post-Romantic symphonic and opera repertoire which are core to his musical identity.

In the 2018-19 season, maestro Runnicles will conduct the world premiere of Detlev Glanert's new opera Oceane at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, along with new productions of Berg's Wozzeck and Zemlinsky's Der Zwerg as well as six revival titles. Guest engagements this season include the Cincinnati Symphony, Dallas Symphony, Toronto Symphony, Tonhalle Orchester Zürich, and a production of Strauss' Elektra at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. This past summer, he conducted the complete Ring Cycle with the San Francisco Opera, and took the Deutsche Oper Berlin Orchestra on tour to the Ravello Festival in Italy. In addition, he led the World Orchestra for Peace performing Beethoven's Ninth Symphony at the 2018 Proms, and conducts the orchestra again in November in a special concert in Künzelsau, Germany, commemorating the centennial of the Armistice.

Sir Donald Runnicles' previous posts include Music Director of the San Francisco Opera (1992-2008), during which he led world premieres of John Adams's Doctor Atomic, Conrad Susa's Les Liaisons dangereuses, and the U.S. premiere of Messiaen's Saint François d'Assise; Principal Conductor of the Orchestra of St. Luke's in New York City (2001-2007); and General Music Director of the Theater Freiburg and Orchestra (1989-1993).

Maestro Runnicles' extensive discography includes complete recordings of Wagner's Tristan and Isolde, Mozart's Requiem, Orff's Carmina Burana, Britten's Billy Budd, Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel, and Bellini's I Capuleti e i Montecchi. 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 Janácek's Jenufa 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. He was appointed OBE in 2004, and holds honorary degrees from the University of Edinburgh, the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.