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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 October 2007, 11:36 GMT 12:36 UK
Top conductor leads BBC orchestra
Donald Runnicles
Donald Runnicles has not conducted regularly in the UK for 18 years
The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra has appointed a renowned maestro as its new chief conductor.

Donald Runnicles, who was born in Edinburgh, will replace Israeli Ilan Volkov when he steps down from the post in September 2009.

He is currently music director of San Francisco Opera, principal guest conductor at Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and works with Berlin Philharmonic.

The BBC described the appointment as a "major coup".

Runnicles has not conducted regularly in the UK for more than 18 years.

The three-year contract with the BBC SSO, based at Glasgow City Halls, will bring him to Scotland for a minimum of eight weeks each season.

Critical acclaim

His remit will include the full repertoire, recordings, engagements at the Edinburgh Festival, the London Proms and throughout Scotland on the orchestra's touring circuit.

The conductor's first appearance following his appointment will take place next April in Glasgow, where he will conduct a programme to include James MacMillan's Third Symphony.

He first worked with the SSO at the 2001 Edinburgh International Festival when he conducted Berlioz's Les Troyens, which was met with widespread critical acclaim.

The conductor returned to Edinburgh to conduct the orchestra in 2003, 2005 and 2006.

I am deeply privileged to embrace the future at the helm of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
Donald Runnicles

Speaking about his appointment, Runnicles said: "The energy, enthusiasm and supreme musicianship of these terrific musicians is unrivalled.

"I am privileged to have made music with them over the past five years, and I am deeply privileged to embrace the future at the helm of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra."

Gavin Reid, director of the BBC SSO, said: "We are absolutely thrilled that Donald Runnicles is to become the orchestra's new chief conductor.

"Donald and the orchestra have created breathtaking concerts at both the BBC Proms and Edinburgh International Festival in recent years and have a wonderful relationship.

"We are set for a truly exciting future."

Among his other work, Runnicles is music director of the Grand Teton Music Festival, in Wyoming.

He appears regularly at the Salzburg and Bayreuth festivals and is in constant demand by the world's leading opera houses, including the Metropolitan Opera in New York and the Vienna State Opera.

He was awarded the OBE in 2004 and has received an honorary degree from Edinburgh University.

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