to become Chief Conductor of
WDR Rundfunkorchester Köln
(WDR Radio Orchestra Cologne) from September
"Oh what a cracker this concert turned out to be; Niklas Willén,
conducting a BSO on tip-top form, set enviable standards for the rest of the
season ........ Totally enthralling under Willén's baton, the tales of
Scheherazade in Rimsky-Korsakov's much-loved work were conveyed with intuitive
(Mike March, Bournemouth Echo, 16th October 2008)
The Swedish conductor Niklas Willén has been appointed as Chief Conductor
of the WDR Radio Orchestra Köln from Season 2010/11, beginning
in September. This will be in addition to his duties as General Music Director
of the Volkstheater Rostock and Chief Conductor of the North
German Philharmonic Rostock, announced earlier this year.
Born in Stockholm in 1961 where he studied conducting and composition at the
city's Royal College of Music, Niklas Willén has created a loyal and much
respected base in Scandinavia and the Nordic countries. He regularly conducts
the major orchestras of Sweden, Norway, Denmark, in particular the Royal Stockholm
Philharmonic Orchestra and Swedish Radio Symphony along with the major Swedish
opera houses. Last season he made his debut with both the Philharmonic Orchestra
of the National University of Mexico and the North German Philharmonic Orchestra
(both with immediate re-invitations).
Niklas Willén has strong, distinct affiliations to a range of repertoire
that spans the classical, romantic and contemporary periods. In addition he has
become a busy recording artist with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Royal
Stockholm Philharmonic, Royal Opera in Stockholm, Göteborgs Symphony Orchestra,
Malmö Opera, and the Sønderjyllands Symphony Orchestra.
In a recording of Prokoviev's complete Piano Concertos with the Sønderjyllands
Symphony Orchestra, Paul Serotsky (www.musicweb-international.com) said:
"Willén is a superbly sympathetic partner, coaxing mischief from
the orchestra to match Marshev at his cheekiest", "Stunning and superb."
In his recording of the Nielsen Aladdin Suite, Pan & Syrinx, Helios Overture,
Rob Barnett (www.musicweb-international.com) said "Willén's Nielsen
is very adroitly paced ...... Willén's is a great performance ...... a
classic Helios Overture),
And in Volume 2 of Naxos' complete orchestral music by Alfvén, Willén
received the following : "Listen as Niklas Willén teases the
skittish polka (No. 6) from Alfvén's 'The Prodigal Son' ballet suite,
or steers his players through the vehement fugue that rounds out his Symphony
No. 2, and you'll appreciate why this release commands unreserved praise."). [Michael
The WDR Rundfunkorchester Köln (also known as the Cologne
Radio Symphony Orchestra) was founded in 1947, operating with a series of permanent
guest conductors. Regular guest conductors have joined the orchestra over the
years including a highly respected roster from a younger generation. These have
included Leopold Hager (former Chief Conductor at the Volksoper in Vienna), Stefan
Blunier (GMD in Bonn), Gustav Kuhn (conducted a highly rated production of Die
Frau ohne Schatten at the Opera Bastille in 2008 and toured Japan with the Opéra
National de Paris), Ari Rasilainen (Chief Conductor of the Norwegian Radio Orchestra
Oslo) and Pinchas Steinberg (fresh from the Deutsche Oper, Berlin, conducting
Tristan plus Turandot).
The WDR Rundfunkorchester Köln focuses on twentieth-century
repertoire, especially the music of Karlheinz Stockhausen. The orchestra began
touring Germany under its former Chief conductor, now Honorary Conductor, Helmuth
Froschauer. From 2005 to 2008, Michail Jurowski was chief conductor and is now
Principal Guest Conductor of the Tonkünstler Orchestra in Austria.
Niklas Willén commented on his new position saying: "I
am thrilled and honoured to become chief conductor of the WDR Rundfunkorchester
Köln and to be part of one of Europe's most famous broadcasting organisations
as it continues to develop its fine orchestra."
Monika Piel, Intendantin des WDR, said: "In addition
to his artistic qualities and experience Niklas Willén also brings a great
interest in contemporary music. With him [as chief conductor] we will strike
new paths and also continue to pursue our aim of intensifying young people's
enthusiasm for music."
For immediate release, 16 June 2009
Swedish conductor Niklas Willén will become general music director of
the Volkstheater Rostock and chief conductor of the North German Philharmonic
Rostock from the 2009/10 season. Last year, the 48-year-old has already conducted
the production of "Manon Lescaut" as well as several concert productions
in Rostock. The Volkstheater's Intendant, Peter Leonard, says that Niklas Willén
is his favourite for this position which has been vacant since 2007.
Niklas Willén has held chief positions in Sweden and Denmark, and he was
Principal Guest Conductor of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic. As a guest conductor
he works regularly with orchestras in Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland,
Iceland, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and the U.K. More than 20 CD
recordings complete his artistic profile.