As of the 2015/16 season Gijs Leenaars has taken up his post as new Principal Conductor and Artistic Director of Rundfunkchor Berlin. Ever since he successfully cooperated with outstanding conductors such as Simon Rattle, Christian Thielemann, John Eliot Garniner and Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Ever since he successfully cooperated with outstanding conductors such as Simon Rattle, Christian Thielemann, John Eliot Garniner and Yannick Nézet-Séguin. In October 2017 he took over the musical direction for the genre crossing Concert performance »LUTHER dancing with the gods« with music by Bach, Nystedt and Reich in Berlins new Pierre Boulez Saal., the choir’s very first collaboration of Rundfunkchor Berlin with the renowned director Robert Wilson. Moreover he directed a celebrated a capella programme in Autumn 2016 at the White Light Festival of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York as well as the choirs first-ever Tour through South America to Brasil, Chile and Argentina with the Brahmsand 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.