Born and raised in Edinburgh, Mr. Runnicles literally returned home to take up post as Chief Conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra in September 2009. His final season as Chief Conductor culminated in a triumphant closing concert of the 2016 Edinburgh International Festival season with Schoenberg’s Gurrelieder. Through its BBC Radio 3 broadcasts, commercially released recordings on the Hyperion label, and acclaimed concerts at home and on tour at the BBC Proms and throughout the UK, the BBC SSO/Runnicles has become one of the best known and most successful orchestra/conductor partnerships in the United Kingdom.
His Atlanta Symphony association began with a 1999 guest engagement and quickly matured into an abiding musical relationship of ever-increasing depth and accomplishment. The ASO named him Principal Guest Conductor in 2001 at the same time as the appointment of current ASO Music Director Robert Spano. Together, they have shaped an era for the ASO defined by a rare symbiotic partnership and musical growth that the ASO has not seen since the time of Robert Shaw. He spends three weeks each season in Atlanta, and after over a dozen years of making music together, has explored all corners of symphonic and choral repertory.
Mr. Runnicles has been Music Director since 2005 of the Grand Teton Music Festival, which draws its musicians from many of North America’s top orchestras to the natural beauty of the Grand Tetons in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. He leads four of the festival’s seven orchestra weeks, and directs and participates as pianist in the many chamber concerts, recitals and other activities the festival offers to its local public and visitors who flock to Jackson and nearby Yellowstone Park in the summer.
Beyond his annual commitments, Mr. Runnicles is active in symphonic repertoire and guest conducts some of the world’s finest symphony orchestras. Though fully engaged with four titled positions, he finds time to maintain regular guest relationships with the Berlin Philharmonic, London Symphony Orchestra, and the Philadelphia Orchestra, with whom he took on their 40th anniversary tour to China in June 2013.
For seventeen seasons Mr. Runnicles was Music Director of the San Francisco Opera (1992-2008). During his tenure, he led more than sixty productions including the world premieres of John Adams’s Dr. Atomic and Conrad Sousa’s Les Liaisons dangereuses, as well as the U.S. premieres of Olivier Messiaen’s Saint François d’Assise and Aribert Reimann’s Lear. At the close of his tenure, he was awarded the San Francisco Opera Medal, the company’s highest honor, previously given to luminaries such as Leontyne Price, Marilyn Horne, Plácido Domingo and Sir Charles Mackerras. Prior to the 2017-18 season, Mr. Runnicles had returned to the SFO in June 2015 to lead a new production of Berlioz’s Les Troyens.