Opera Scotland

Donald Runnicles Suggest updates

Sir Donald Runnicles.

Born Edinburgh, 16 November 1954.

Scottish conductor.

Donald Runnicles is most associated in Scotland with his period as Chief Conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra from September 2009. He has also been General Music Director of the Deutsche Oper Berlin, Music Director of the Grand Teton Music Festival in Jackson, Wyoming, and Principal Guest Conductor of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.

The work of Runnicles with the BBC SSO included performances in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Perth as well as regular appearances at the BBC Proms and Edinburgh International Festival. He maintains guest relationships with the Berlin Philharmonic and London Symphony orchestras, and works closely with the Philadelphia Orchestra, which he took on a tour of China in the summer of 2013.  As one of today's leading Wagner conductors, projects with the Deutsche Oper Berlin included Tristan und Isolde, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg and a Ring cycle. Other work there includes Falstaff. Don Carlo, Otello, Peter Grimes, Jenůfa and Berlioz's The Damnation of Faust, as well as an appearance with them at the BBC Proms in 2014 for a concert performance of Richard Strauss's Salome.

From 1992 to 2008 Runnicles was Music Director of the San Francisco Opera, where highlights included the world premiere of John Adams's Doctor Atomic, and the US premiere of Messiaen 's Saint François d'Assise. At the close of his tenure he was awarded the San Francisco Opera Medal, the company's highest honour.


A disc of Wagner arias with Jonas Kaufmann and the Deutsche Oper orchestra won a Gramophone Award in 2013. Other CDs include Wagner's Tristan und Isolde, Bruckner's Symphony No.7 (with the BBC SSO), Mozart's Requiem, Orff's Carmina Burana, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, Britten's Billy Budd, Humperdinck's Honsel und Gretel and Bellini's I Capuleti e i Montecchi.

Recognition and honours

Donald Runnicles is a recipient of the OBE (2004) and a Knighthood (2020).  He also holds honorary degrees from the University of Edinburgh, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

For further information please visit: www.donaldrunnicles.com 

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