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The Rundfunkchor Berlin was founded in 1925 and already stood out in the first years of its existence through its collaborations with such conductors as George Szell, Otto Klemperer, Hermann Scherchen, and Erich Kleiber, as well as by giving significant world premieres, including of works by Arthur Honegger, Ernst Krenek, Darius Milhaud, and Kurt Weill. The choir, which is praised for its warm sound, homogeneity, and precision, today gives about 60 concerts per year, including at its home base with the Berlin Philharmonic, the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, and the Rundfunk-Sinfonierochester Berlin, but also in international guest performances. For example, its project human requiem, which is a staged adaptation of the Brahms Requiem with the Compagnie Sasha Waltz & Guests, has taken the singers to New York, Hong Kong, Paris, Brussels, Athens, and Australia in recent years. In the 2018-19 season, they performed concerts in Szczecin, Barcelona, and Istanbul. With its community projects such as the annual Sing-Along Concert, the Festival of Choral Cultures, and the Song Exchange for children and young students, the Rundfunkchor Berlin hopes to attract as many people as possible to singing. It moreover promotes the next generation of professionals with an academy and a master class. The choir’s recordings have won numerous prizes, among which are three Grammy Awards. Gijs Leenaars, who was born in the Netherlands in 1978, has been the Rundfunkchor’s chief conductor and artistic director since 2015. He previously helmed the Dutch Radio Choir and is a committed advocate of contemporary music. The Rundfunkchor Berlin is an ensemble of Rundfunk-Orchester und -Chöre GmbH, and its shareholders include Deutschlandradio, the Federal Republic of Germany, the State of Berlin, and Radio Berlin-Brandenburg.
LUCERNE FESTIVAL debut on 29 August 2006 in works by Weill, Schoenberg, and Bernstein conducted by John Axelrod.