The Swedish Radio Choir
Biography and history
The Swedish Radio Choir is one of the best choirs in the world. For over 90 years, they have maintained and fostered the Swedish a cappella tradition and the renowned choral sound created by legendary conductor Eric Ericson. The choir members’ ability to switch between powerful solo performances and seamlessly blending with the group creates a unique and dynamic instrument lauded by music lovers and critics the world over, as well as by the numerous conductors that explore and challenge the choir’s potential.
Permanent home of the Swedish Radio Choir since 1979 is Berwaldhallen, the Swedish Radio’s concert hall. In addition to the seated audience, the choir reaches millions of listeners on the radio and the web through Klassiska konserten i P2. Several concerts are also broadcast and streamed on Berwaldhallen Play, offering the audience more opportunities to come as close as possible to one of the world’s top choirs.
In the autumn of 2020, the choir meets their new Music Director, multiple award-winning Latvian conductor Kaspars Putniņš, in poignant works by composers such as Arvo Pärt and Sofia Gubaidulina as well as classics like Bach’s Magnificat and Handel’s Dixit Dominus. Kaspars Putniņš has already conducted the choir on several concerts and tours in the past years.
The Swedish Radio Choir regularly works with renowned guest conductors that take the ensemble and the audience on powerful musical journeys. In the 2019–2020 season, the choir celebrated Berwaldhallen’s 40th anniversary with Andrew Manze, staged a dramatic and multi-layered concert about refugees with Justin Doyle and performed a selection of prominent German and Lithuanian choral works with Giedrė Šlekytė.
In the spring of 2020, when the coronavirus made performing for a live audience impossible, the choir performed a number of acclaimed concerts with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra that were broadcast in Swedish Radio P2 and on Berwaldhallen Play. Highlights included Lars-Erik Larsson’s A God Disguised with Stina Ekblad as narrator, an American programme conducted by Helene Stureborg, and for the season finale, members of the choir joined an internationally acclaimed staged performance of Mozart’s Don Giovanni conducted by Daniel Harding.
The choir is also a respected ambassador for Swedish music, regularly performing at the world’s biggest concert halls and festivals. In 2010, at the Music Export Prize ceremony, the Swedish Radio Choir received the Swedish Government’s honorary prize for outstanding service in promoting and spreading Swedish music abroad, “for having put Swedish choral music on the world map for more than half a century”.
In November 2019, the Swedish Radio Choir went on tour to Japan with an all-Russian programme featuring Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms with its former Music Director, Peter Dijkstra. The choir has strong ties to Japan dating back more than 20 years, with numerous acclaimed performances. In April 2018, the choir performed Mozart’s Mass in C minor with the Berlin Philharmonic and Daniel Harding at three sold-out concerts. In their review, the Tagesspiegel wrote, “the choir is rightfully regarded as the best of its kind”. Also with the Berlin Philharmonic, the Swedish Radio Choir has made several legendary recordings under the direction of Claudio Abbado.
In autumn 2019, Peter Dijkstra and Tõnu Kaljuste, both former Music Directors, were appointed the Swedish Radio Choir’s first Directors Laureate. The choir’s president, Johan Pejler, remembers the two conductors with warmth and reverence: “Tõnu Kaljuste gave the choir more and deeper dimensions, another sound, another expression. And the years with Peter Dijkstra have given the choir stability on a very high level.”
Throughout the history of the Baltic Sea Festival, the Swedish Radio Choir has offered memorable musical experiences, on their own as well as with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra. Among the highlights are Schoenberg’s Gurre-Lieder in 2016 with several top Swedish choirs, the SRSO and the Royal Swedish Philharmonic Orchestra together, as well as Brahms’ Requiem in 2010 conducted by Riccardo Muti and featuring the Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks.
Other noteworthy events include the Swedish premiere of Esa-Pekka Salonen’s acclaimed Karawane for choir and orchestra in 2015, world premieres of Jan Sandström’s Fjärran and Tebogo Monnakgotla’s Naissance du jour in 2009 and Rachmaninov’s beloved All-Night Vigil in 2018 with the choir’s Conductor Laureate, Tõnu Kaljuste.
Besides masterful interpretations of repertoire classics, the Swedish Radio Choir is known for its progressive, diverse and groundbreaking repertoire. Many a composer has collaborated with the choir over the years, including Karin Rehnqvist, Sven-David Sandström and more recently young composers like Jacob Mühlrad. The choir also regularly does innovative collaborations, such as the exciting meeting of Renaissance music and the works of singer/songwriter Ane Brun in 2019.
Since January 2019, Marc Korovitch is the Swedish Radio Choir’s choirmaster, with responsibility for the choir’s ongoing development, or as he himself puts it, “to nourish and develop what makes the choir unique”. He is chief conductor of Le Jeune chœur de Paris, regularly works with ensembles such as the Chœur de Radio France and Accentus and has been choirmaster at several prestigious international festivals. “The Swedish Radio Choir has had such importance for the development of choral music in an international perspective,” says Marc Korovitch.