As the snow fell during February this year, Berwaldhallen commissioned Andrew Staples to make a film with the Swedish Radio Symphony of Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll. Together with SRSO Music Director Daniel Harding, Staples imagined the piece as a heartwarming love letter not from a composer to his wife but from the players of the SRSO to their absent audience.
Siegfried Idyll is the third film project Berwaldhallen has created with Andrew Staples and Daniel Harding, after Mozart’s Don Giovanni in June 2020 featuring Peter Mattei and Malin Byström, and Bach’s St John Passion.
Staples himself says that the film “tries to capture the aching desire of an entire cultural organization that is reaching out into its environment to connect with its audience across the temporary digital divide. Our aim is to bring the audience closer to the players, to their art, skill and passion while, for the time being at least, the auditorium remains empty.”
The Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra is known worldwide as one of Europe’s most versatile orchestras with an exciting and varied repertoire and a constant striving to break new ground The multi-award-winning orchestra has been praised for its exceptional, wide-ranging musicianship as well as collaborations with the world’s foremost composers, conductors and soloists.
Permanent home of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra since 1979 is Berwaldhallen, the Swedish Radio’s concert hall. In addition to the audience in the hall, the orchestra reaches many many listeners on the radio and the web and through it´s partnership with EBU. Several concerts are also broadcast and streamed on Berwaldhallen Play and with Swedish Television, offering the audience more opportunities to come as close as possible to one of the world’s top orchestras.
“The orchestra has a unique combination of humility, sensibility and musical imagination”, says Daniel Harding, Music Director of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra since 2007. “I have never had a concert with the orchestra where they haven’t played as though their lives depended on it!” The orchestra is also proud to have Klaus Mäkelä as its Principal Guest Conductor since 2018.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Swedish Radio Symphony was one of the only orchestras in the world which never stopped playing. Its innovative and creative approach to making music in these dark times helped its public to cope and even made the news itself.
The first radio orchestra was founded in 1925, the same year that the Swedish Radio Service began its broadcasts. The Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra received its current name in 1967. Through the years, the orchestra has had several distinguished Music Directors. Two of them are Herbert Blomstedt and Esa-Pekka Salonen.
Daniel Harding is Music and Artistic Director of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra. He is also Artistic Director of the Anima Mundi Festival in Pisa and Conductor Laureate of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, with whom he has worked for more than 20 years. He is one of few conductors regularly invited to conduct the world’s foremost orchestras, including the Berliner Philharmoniker, Royal Concergebouw Orchestra and Wiener Philharmoniker, and additionally a qualified airline pilot.
A renowned opera conductor, he has led acclaimed productions at Teatro alla Scala in Milan, Theater an der Wien, London’s Royal Opera House and at the Salzburg and Aix-en-Provence Festivals. He has made a great number of recordings, including Grammy Award-winning Billy Budd with the London Symphony Orchestra and Beethoven’s Piano Concertos No. 3 and 4 with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra and Maria João Pires.
Harding’s contract as music director extends through the 2024-2025 season. In 2019, he also accepted a new role as the orchestra’s first artistic director with an overall responsibility for the orchestra’s artistic vision. This expanded role also includes the opportunity to create brand new types of concert programmes and ways to present classical music in creative ways.
“It is increasingly rare for the relationship between a conductor and an orchestra not only lasts for more than a decade, but keeps growing”, Daniel Harding says about working with the orchestra. “It is also rare for an orchestra of the highest musical standard also very obviously want to keep on growing.”
Harding started out playing the trumpet, but in his teens, the interest in conducting took over. 17 years old, he led a performance of Schönberg’s Pierrot Lunaire with a student ensemble. This led to a job assisting Simon Rattle with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra for a year. The time with Rattle and the orchestra ended with Harding’s professional debut, conducting the orchestra himself.
In 2002 Daniel was awarded the title Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Government and in 2017 nominated to the position Officier Arts et Lettres. In 2012, he was elected a member of The Royal Swedish Academy of Music. He is a qualified airline pilot.