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Donald Runnicles


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OBE Donald Runnicles (born November 16, 1954) is a Scottish conductor.

Runnicles was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, the son of William Runnicles, a director of a furniture supplier and a choirmaster and organist, and Christine Runnicles. He began his education at George Heriot’s School in Edinburgh, moving later to George Watson’s College which offered a specialised music education facility, followed by the University of Edinburgh and the University of Cambridge. He worked for a year at the London Opera Centre.

Runnicles began his operatic career as a singers’ coach and assistant conductor in Mannheim, Germany. He became Generalmusikdirektor of the city of Freiburg, Germany in 1989. Referring to the 10 years he spent in Germany, Runnicles has said, “I have to breathe this air, this Wagnerian air. It was life-changing and that love affair with Wagner led to what was influenced by him: the Bruckner, the Mahler.”

In the USA, Runnicles served as Music Director and Principal Conductor of the San Francisco Opera from 1992 to 2009. After the conclusion of his contract, he is scheduled to continue to work with the company as a guest conductor. Runnicles has served as Principal Guest Conductor of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra since September 2001, and his current contract there runs through 2014. From 2001 to 2007, he was also Principal Conductor of the Orchestra of St. Luke’s. Runnicles had been offered the title of Music Director of the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, but he declined the title. He became Music Director of the Grand Teton Music Festival in September 2005, having been appointed that August.

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