As of the 2015/16 season Gijs Leenaars has taken up his post as new Principal Conductor and Artistic Director of Berlin Radio Choir. Opening with an a cappella concert as part of Musikfest Berlin and working together with renowned conductors such as Sir Simon Rattle, Christian Thielemann, John Eliot Gardiner or Yannick Nézet-Séguin Gijs Leenaars has had a very successful first time together with Berlin Radio Choir. In December 2017 he conducted Berlin Radio Choir singing Arthur Honeggers “Le Roi David” together with Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin at the Berlin Cathedral. Furthermore he directed a celebrated a cappella programme at the White Light Festival of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York as well as the choir’s first ever tour through South America. Berlin Radio Choir visited the continent’s most important musical cities and performed the Brahms and Mozart requiem as well as Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9.
Born in 1978 in Nijmegen, The Netherlands, Leenaars is regarded as one of the most exciting choral conductors of the younger generation. He studied the piano, choral and orchestral conducting as well as singing in Nijmegen and Amsterdam. Directly upon completing his studies he embarked on a collaboration with the Netherlands Radio Choir (Groot Omroepkoor) in Hilversum. From 2012 to 2015 he was the ensemble’s Principal Conductor, working with such leading conductors as Mariss Jansons, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Bernard Haitink and Valery Gergiev. He is a regular guest conductor of the Collegium Vocale of Ghent, Cappella Amsterdam and Netherlands Chamber Choir and has also conducted orchestras including the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, Rotterdam Philharmonic, The Hague Philharmonic and Turin Philharmonic.
One of his special interests is contemporary music: Gijs Leenaars conducted the Dutch premiere of Wolfgang Rihm’s “Vigilia” and prepared the choral works of György Kurtág with the Netherlands Radio Choir for a complete recording under Reinbert de Leeuw. His strikingly imaginative programming brings together the classics of the choral repertoire with seldom performed works from all periods.
As of August 2017