Music director candidate Rune Bergmann returns for free, encore with Grand Rapids Symphony

Media Contact:
Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk
Grand Rapids Symphony
616.454.9451 x 139

GRAND RAPIDS, MI., March 30, 2016 – Orchestra conductor Rune Bergmann didn’t grow up in a musical family. But when his father woke him up to watch Carlos Kleiber conduct a New Year’s Eve concert from Vienna on TV, Bergmann was inspired to make music and conducting his life’s work.

He was 8 years old.

“The music spoke straight to me, and the way he communicated with the orchestra was unbelievable,” Bergmann recalled. “At that moment I told my parents that this is what I am going to do with my life. 

Naturally his parents, who lived in a small town that was known for furniture manufacturing, were skeptical.

“Coming from a small place where conducting wasn’t even recognized as a profession, they probably thought I was a bit crazy,” he recalled. “But not many years later my journey started and it has brought me to some very exciting places around the world. 

Next week, the Norwegian-born conductor returns to West Michigan for an encore performance with the Grand Rapids Symphony at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 7, 2016.
The special event will be held in the Jenison Center for the Arts at Jenison High School, 8375 20th Ave. Admission is free, but an RSVP is required. Call Grand Rapids Symphony at (616) 454-9451 or go online to

Rune Bergmann, artistic director of the Fjord Cadenza Festival in Norway, will lead the Grand Rapids Symphony in Mozart’s Overture to “The Marriage of Figaro” and Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite (1919).

A reception to meet the conductor will follow the 30-minute concert.

Last November, Bergmann led a much-talked about performance of Johannes Brahms’ A German Requiem, featuring guest vocalists and the Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus, prepared by its director, Pearl Shangkuan.

“What I love most about Brahms’ Requiem is the purity it possesses and how clear it has been composed and orchestrated,” said Bergman, who is principal guest conductor of the Kaunas City Symphony Orchestra in Lithuania. “For me there is something very honest in the way Brahms composes, and especially in this work. There is something about it that goes straight to the heart.”

Last month, Bergmann was at Yale University in New Haven, Conn., to lead a performance “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by Benjamin Britten.

Earlier in his career, Rune Bergmann was an active conductor of opera in Germany.

Doris Yarick-Cross, director of opera at Yale University, told the New Haven Register that she chose the Norwegian conductor to lead the opera by a British composer for an American audience because, “I was convinced that his joyous, convincing and skillful handling of the orchestra was exactly what was needed for our production.”

Today, Bergmann lives in Norway’s capital city of Oslo with his wife and their three young children. 

Naturally, he loves skiing.

“Nature, mountains and snow is something I share with my family,” he said. “I suppose this is quite typically Norwegian.”


Tickets are free by an RSVP is required for entry. Call the Grand Rapids Symphony at 616.454.9451 or go online to the Grand Rapids Symphony’s website to RSVP for Rune Bergmann’s April 7 program.

About the Grand Rapids Symphony

Organized in 1930, the Grand Rapids Symphony is nationally recognized for the quality of its concerts and educational programs. Led by Music Advisor Larry Rachleff, Principal Pops Conductor Bob Bernhardt and Associate Conductor John Varineau, nine concert series are presented, featuring a wide range of music and performance styles. More than 400 performances are given each year, touching the lives of some 200,000, nearly half of whom are students, senior citizens and people with disabilities all reached through extensive education and community service programs. Affiliated organizations include the Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus; Grand Rapids Youth Symphony and Classical Orchestra; and Grand Rapids Symphony Youth Choruses. GRS sponsors the biennial Grand Rapids Bach Festival and provides the orchestra for performances by Opera Grand Rapids and the Grand Rapids Ballet. To learn more about the Grand Rapids Symphony, please visit

This activity is supported in part by an award from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts.