Orchestra renews its pilot

Orchestra renews its pilot


norman lebrecht

November 18, 2021

Swedish Radio has renewed the British conductor Daniel Harding as music director of its symphony orchestra until 2025.

Harding, who now doubles as a part-time Air France pilot, has been in the post for 15 years.

He tells the orchestra:

Since the very beginning of my conducting career, I have been surrounded by musicians, collaborators and friends of exceptional generosity, talent and wisdom. I understood very early on that important and lasting musical relationships are forged over many years.

2022 marks my fifteen-year anniversary as Music Director of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra. When I came to Stockholm in January 2007, none of us could have known how our futures would unfold, as musicians, as humans, as individuals and as a group. It is one of the immense satisfactions and inspirations of my musical life that I am still here and still enjoying a sense of honeymoon with these truly exceptional musicians.

There is no doubt that here in Stockholm, in Berwaldhallen, I have found my musical family. The bond between us is immense and the spark that we had at the start seems only brighter and more intense.

The role of Music Director is a very important one. Week in, week out, over many years, slowly and patiently working with the same musicians to create an identity, a sense of musical priority and perspective, a deep understanding of one another and the music we play, a trust and exchange with a public. It is a kind of work where the goal is never the concert of the week but the slow and certain construction of something that can only be fully appreciated with hindsight.

This is all to say that I couldn’t be happier to tell you that I have signed an extension to my contract as Music Director and Artistic Director of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra until at least 2025.

Our plans for this new chapter together are coming into focus:

· Three Wagner operas performed in concert in Berwaldhallen over the next four years, beginning with Tristan and Isolde.

· An even stronger ambition from Swedish Radio to support the continued activity of the orchestra in the country, in Europe and in Asia, on tour and on the radio.

· A commitment to put our wonderful orchestra musicians in the limelight. We will enable more of them to play in front of the orchestra. We will reimagine their chamber music programme to have more focus and to include visiting artists. And in general our musicians will feature more as ambassadors for their own work.

· A music film project that will create so much more than just filmed concerts but films designed to be watched and listened to as full artistic experiences in their own right.

We are privileged to be part of an organization, Sveriges Radio, that is led by Cilla Benkö, whose belief in the importance of Public Service is so unshakable. She is a true friend of our orchestra and understands what we do is free from commercial and political constraints.

Together with General Manager Staffan Becker and all the team in Berwaldhallen, we carry on our endless journey towards the unattainable heights that great music asks us to strive for. To share this journey with the amazing public in Berwaldhallen, on the radio, and in the wider world, is our mission and our joy. 

The orchestra have made this video about him.


  • Jobim75 says:

    I understand some people will disagree Boring conductor, boring programs, too much Mahler, too serious. His Bruckner 5th with Paris Orchestra was a disaster. Rattle’s boy if I remember well, not crazy about him neither.

    • La plus belle voix says:

      He’s too serious? Are you serious? Why should earnestness be a detriment? Would you welcome more frivolity? Try Norman Wisdom, he might be to your liking. As for “Rattle’s boy”, that is simply ad hominem. Nasty. Harding is simply rather good at what he does.

  • Evan Tucker says:

    Good for him. It’s really refreshing to see a conductor who values a musical partnership enough that he’s not eager to climb the next career rung. There’s no way Harding’s name wasn’t thrown around for every one of the big posts open right now, and I still think we’re about to hear him named at Covent Garden, but a really good musical partnership with a good orchestra makes so much better music than a mediocre partnership with a great orchestra.

    • MacroV says:

      Absolutely, but I would only say the Swedish Radio Symphony probably qualifies as a great orchestra; those orchestras up north tend to get overlooked but they make great music.

  • Jasper says:

    Let’s always be aware of the fact that there is a behind the scenes that ain’t so glamorous.

  • Robert Roy says:

    Horribly unmusical individual.