Thomas Søndergård


Danish conductor Thomas Søndergård is Principal Conductor of BBC National Orchestra of Wales and also Principal Guest Conductor of Royal Scottish National Orchestra. He was Principal Conductor and Musical Advisor of the Norwegian Radio Orchestra from 2009-2012.

Plans for 2016/17 include debuts with Bayerische Staatsoper (Turandot), London Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw, London Symphony Orchestra and Deutsche Oper Berlin (world premiere of Scartazzini’s Edward II) and return visits to Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, Danish National Symphony Orchestra and Royal Stockholm Philharmonic. With RSNO, projects include Sibelius’ Violin Concerto with Janine Jansen and with BBC NOW, the complete Stravinsky Firebird, recordings and touring.

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    Søndergård/GSO Dvorak 8


Usher Hall Edinburgh, EDINBURGH

Sibelius: Canzonetta
Sibelius: Kuolema: Kurkikohtaus (Scene with Cranes)
Sibelius: Valse triste
Mahler: Rückert-Lieder
Beethoven: Leonore Overture No 3
Sibelius: Symphony No5

Royal Scottish National Orchestra
Jennifer Johnston, Mezzo Soprano

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BBCNOW, Principal Conductor

Thomas Søndergård was appointed Principal Conductor Designate of BBC National Orchestra of Wales in July 2011, and took up his position at the start of 2012/13 season. 

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RSNO, Principal Guest Conductor

The 2012/13 Season marked the beginning of a new era for the RSNO as Peter Oundjian officially took up his position as Music Director and Thomas Søndergård began his tenure as Principal Guest Conductor. The orchestra also appointmented two new Leaders: James Clark and Maya Iwabuchi. In March 2014 Thomas conducted the 100th birthday concert of the Usher Hall, Edinburgh. 

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Il viaggio a Reims

Royal Danish Opera

"Key to its success was Thomas Søndergård’s sensational conducting. Having most recently heard him lead the Deutsche Oper world premiere of Edward II I was astonished by his fluency in Rossini. Attack was crisp with strings playing with minimal vibrato. Tempi were swift with an unerring sense of pulse and rhythmic impetus that drove the performance along fizzingly. The orchestra played extremely well for him, especially the brass who virtuosically coped with those swift tempi."

Opera Traveller, 13 March 2017

Mahler’s Sixth Symphony


St David’s Hall, Cardiff


'Søndergård’s controlled sustaining of the long finale made it unremitting, with the two fateful hammer-blows and the trombone and tuba’s funerary tones sounding all the more nihilistic. The orchestra played out of their skins.'

Rian Evans, The Guardian, Monday 23 January 2017

RSNO - Mahler, Sibelius, Beethoven

Glasgow Royal Concert Hall


Thomas Søndergård 'bring(s) a massive sense of purpose to music-making, and he certainly galvanises the RSNO into some extraordinary playing at all extremes of expression: their opening Mahler performances of Blumine, a gorgeous piece, and What the Wild Flowers Tell Me, from the Third Symphony, brought remarkably stylish and utterly seductive playing from the RSNO; on this form they are a gobsmacking band.'

'Sondergard walloped Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony into a fast, ultra-virile masterpiece of sheer energy, delivered almost as a continuum by the RSNO playing with a concentration and drive that were both gripping and breath-taking.'

Michael Tumelty, 23 October 2016, Herald Scotland


Debut with London Philharmonic Orchestra

Royal Festival Hall


“Søndergard has a clean and precise manner on the podium and it's blatantly obvious that the musicians in the LPO hold him in high regard…. they came into their own with Shostakovich's Symphony no. 5 in D minor…. The dynamic control was impeccable, imparting force to the harmonic shifts in the first movement, and the individual harp chords which announce tension-filled key changes rang through with clarity.”

David Karlin, Bach Track 09 October 2016


BBC NOW - 'Metaboles' & 'Sur la meme accord'

St David's Hall, Cardiff

'The eloquence and characteristic finesse of the Dutilleux pieces were communicated well here, and his fastidious concern for timbre and a sound-world of ordered perfection never unduly challenged the listener. In Métaboles, conductor Thomas Søndergård allowed the orchestra to luxuriate in every note without undermining the music’s growing organic momentum, and tension ratcheted up in the final Flamboyant.' **** Rian Evans, 24 January 2016, The Guardian

BBC National Orchestra of Wales

St David's Hall, Cardiff

'Under principal conductor Thomas Søndergård, the BBC National Orchestra of Wales opened their new season with a showcase affair, beginning with a glittering display of Stravinsky’s Fireworks.'  Rian Evans, 04 October 2015, The Guardian

RSNO with James Ehnes

Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

"NOW THAT, on Saturday night, was an RSNO concert for the memory banks. It was a concert with everything....spearheaded by two consistently-reliable, imaginative, top-drawer musicians in the presence of Thomas Sondergard, who has not put a foot wrong since the day and hour he took up his Principal Guest conductorship of the RSNO, and Canadian violin James Ehnes... A superb concert."  Michael Tumelty, The Herald Scotland


Royal Scottish National Orchestra

Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

"A transcendent performance of Britten's Violin Concerto with [Vilde Frang] the RSNO and the endlessly-perceptive conductor Thomas Sondergard, a performance which revealed all the pain, conscience and beauty in this great concerto, which is woefully underplayed. In the closing pages, where, for me, the music reaches a dimension of spirituality, my breathing went on hold, my heart swelled, and I was emotionally devastated and uplifted, both at the same time." The Herald Saturday, 3 May 2014, Michael Tumelty

Messiaen - Turangalîla

Royal Scottish National Orchestra

Usher Hall Edinburgh

Søndergård gave a bright and brisk account, full of vivid colours and vigorous tempos, and tempered with as much buoyancy as can be achieved with the vast orchestra Messiaen calls for. The Telegraph, David Kettle, 15 March 2014

Mahler Symphony No.9

BBC National Orchestra of Wales

St. Davids Hall, Cardiff

"....quite simply a magnificent representation of Mahler’s clearly expressed intentions, delivered by an orchestra at the top of their current excellent form under a conductor whose respect and love of the score shone through in every bar. The full audience were clearly enraptured, and responded at the end with ringing cheers." Seen and Heard International, Paul Corfield Godfrey

"Reminiscent of the purity of Carlos Kleiber"

Rotterdam Philharmonic

De Doelen, Rotterdam

Thomas Søndergård - remember that name and go and see him. The veracity with which he conducts is reminiscent of the purity of Carlos Kleiber, who used the baton as a brush with equal beauty. Anna Grebenchtchikova

Brahms Symphony No. 4

Royal Scottish National Orchestra 2013

Glasgow Royal Concert hall

"The ensuing Brahms Fourth Symphony was airborne, brisk and full of sparkle. Søndergård’s knitting together of the Andante’s lengthy melodic strands was sublime"
Ken Walton, The Scotsman
"Søndergård’s Brahms was magnificent: not because of any overblown heft, but for its clarity and its brave, unguarded expressiveness"
Kate Molleson The Herald

Shostakovich: Symphony No.11

BBC Prom 21

Royal Albert Hall

Søndergård seemingly sees the piece in terms of how fanaticism breeds from violence: after the horror of massacres and the intensity of formal lamentation, the finale, far from being eruptive, had the steady tread and weight of a juggernaut obliterating everything opposing its path. The BBCNOW played it as though possessed. **** Tim Ashley, The Guardian
"The marvel of this performance... was undoubtedly the fierceness and trenchancy of its rhythmic impulse with Søndergård urging and getting fantastic edge and depth from the BBCNOW strings. The infamous massacre itself had the entire percussion battery quite literally (well, aurally speaking) mowing us down... and when the bass clarinet signalled dissent in the final pages how thrilling it was to have actual upturned bells (the only option) clanging out the alarum. The final resonance was, of course, cut short by the cheering - not quite what Shostakovich might have hoped for but testament to this visceral music's ability to go straight for the solar plexus." **** Edward Seckerson, The Arts Desk
Awash with energy and ideas, the piece [Matthew's Turning Point] scored a palpable hit. Having set the tone, the BBC National Orchestra of Wales under its principal conductor, Thomas Søndergård, provided a glittering accompaniment to the expressive soloist, Daniel Hope, in Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No.2 and attacked Shostakovich’s Symphony No.11, "The Year 1905", with revolutionary ardour. Richard Fairman, The Financial Times

Strauss: An Alpine Symphony

BBC Proms debut: "Strauss with bells on" (The Sunday Times pick of the week)

Royal Albert Hall

Thomas Søndergard created a sense of majesty without sentimentality, by keeping taut the great stretches of Strauss's musical muscle.  Hilary Finch, The Times ****
Thomas Søndergård led an energetic and bracing account of Strauss' Alpine tone poem. As was by now evident, he is a conductor that has a flair for the grand statement and big musical moments. His players might be more cognisant of the environs of Snowdonia, yet under Søndergård's baton they proved unafraid of scaling Strauss's Bavarian peaks in style. Evan Dickerson, Music OMH****
Søndergård his element in Strauss's Alpine Symphony. His platform manner, impassioned, flamboyant, endlessly enthusiastic, could be tailor-made for gargantuan scores like this. He managed it pretty faultlessly, too, with off-stage horns and cowbells echoing from around the Albert Hall arena, the organ-reinforced climaxes given full weight in such a space, and the BBCNOW players clearly relishing the opportunity as much as their conductor was. Andrew Clements, The Guardian ***
A magnificent sunrise and other natural wonders, including Surround Sound hunting-horns and cowbells: all admirably handled by Søndergård, with stunning top Cs on trumpets.... Uplifting in every sense. Barry Millington, Evening Standard ***
"A thrilling Alpine Symphony crowned a typically diverse week at the Proms...
The most straightforwardly thrilling experience of the week for me was Thomas Sondergard and his BBC National Orchestra of Wales's spatially enhanced rendering (horns and cowbells distributed throughout the hall) of Strauss' An Alpine Symphony, that nonpareil of musical weather-reporting."
Paul Driver, The Times


BBCNOW end of 12/13 season

St David's Hall, Cardiff

"Mahler was in his early 40s when he wrote his Fifth Symphony; Thomas Søndergård is the same age, and displayed an intrinsic sympathy for the work's epic contracts. At the end of his first season as principal conductor, Søndergård showed just what a rapport he already has with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. Principals responded with freedom and flair to the big solos, while each section revealed how it has gained in depth of tone. Søndergård ensured that the music's progression - through despair, to great tenderness in the celebrated Adagietto, and ultimately to joy - had a natural flow, mirroring the proximity of pain and exhilaration in life itself" **** Rian Evans, The Guardian



Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

"When the Dane came back on stage for last Saturday's encore, the wave of high-voltage intensity that swept around the hall as the band got their Sibelian teeth into one of the composer's Historical Scenes was spine-tingling and tangible." Michael Tumelty, The Herald Scotland


Breathtaking, astonishing music-making

St David's Hall, Cardiff


"Sondergard was animated as he commanded the orchestra in a performance that took us to the edge of the abyss, withdrew, and left us with a life-affirming sense of hope"

Peter Collins, The Western Mail

BBC Symphony Debut

Barbican Hall, London

In the concert's opener, En Saga, Søndergård's easy command of the BBC musicians brought out their expertise: they defined texture and balance while remaining committed to the character of individual ideas. A symphonic poem that conjures up the world of ancient sagas, its dynamism and colouristic variety were thrillingly projected. So, too, was the state of Sibelius's Second Symphony, whose structure is rarely so impressively delivered and whose final apotheosis achieved unalloyed grandeur.
The Guardian **** George Hall

"Nielsen symphony couldn't be done better"

Swedish Radio

With the sound of a Vienna Philharmonic programme fresh in the memory anything else could seem pallid. But Thomas Søndergård and the Swedish Radio Orchestra played Sibelius's En Saga brilliantly, with a palette of colours that was more southern than Nordic, as if Sibelius was trying to out-Strauss Richard Strauss..... In a masterly performance of Nielsen's fifth symphony, Søndergård made every orchestral detail come over - not what one generally expects in performances of Nielsen. He held the difficult last movement together in a most convincing fashion and showed himself the equal of the great pioneers of Nielsen interpretation, with driving tempi and an unfailing sense of form. It is hard to imagine a finer performance of this remarkable symphony. Thomas Anderberg, Dagens Nyheter 25 February 2012



LINN: Sibelius 2 & 7

In their debut commercial recording together, BBCNOW and Søndergård delight with Sibelius' 2nd & 7th symphonies in celebration of the 150th anniversary of this composer. 
LINN Records

Poul Ruders Vol. 6 (Piano Concerto No. 2)

Volume 6 of Bridge's Poul Ruders series presents the premiere recordings of recent solo, chamber and orchestral compositions. The newest work is Ruders's Piano Concerto No. 2, a brilliant 24-minute composition in three movements. This disc was short-listed in the 2011 Gramophone Awards.

Norwegian Radio Orchestra/Vassily Primakov

Bridge Records

Vilde Frang/WDR Cologne

Thomas collaborates regularly with renowned violinist Vilde Frang, and for her debut disc on EMI (2010) they recorded Sibelius and Prokofiev 1 Violin Concerti, and Sibelius Humoresques.  
EMI Classics