Elias Grandy Named Chief Conductor of Sapporo Symphony Orchestra from 2025

2 Oct 2023

Sapporo Symphony Orchestra has announced Elias Grandy as their new Chief Conductor from 2025. The German-Japanese conductor will take over the position for an initial three years starting in April 2025. His contract will take the 43-year-old to Sapporo for eight weeks per season. Before the contract begins, he will be back in Japan in November 2024.

Grandy has conducted the orchestra for the first time in 2020 shortly before the pandemic. He returned in 2022 conducting a program of Wagner, Shostakovich and Debussy, confirming the strong connection with the musicians. The first tenure will focus on works by Gustav Mahler and Richard Strauss, and is hoped to be the beginning of a long relationship.

Ryosuke Miyashita, Director of Concert Planning, says, “Sapporo Symphony Orchestra is thrilled to invite Elias Grandy as our upcoming Chief Conductor. He is a unique conductor with rich knowledge and experience, full of love for the music as well as deep thoughts and ideas about the performing arts. I believe that Elias Grandy is the most remarkable conductor that we have met in recent years, who has the talent to let us move forward into a new era.“

Elias Grandy says, “From the very first time I experienced the Sapporo Symphony Orchestra I was deeply impressed by their agility, their refined technical abilities and their commitment and passion to explore the musical world of each composer. To have been asked to serve them as their Chief Conductor is a privilege and an honour. I am very much looking forward to our time together and can’t wait to return to their world-class concert hall Kitara with Mahler’s First Symphony in November 2024, before beginning my tenure officially in 2025. On a personal level this is a beautiful opportunity for me to reconnect to my German-Japanese heritage!“

Sapporo & the Sapporo Symphony Orchestra
Sapporo is located on Hokkaidō, Japan’s second largest island. Since the 1972 Winter Olympics – the first Winter Games in Asia – Sapporo has been twinned with Munich, the venue for the Summer Games of the same year.

The Sapporo Symphony Orchestra, founded in 1961, is Hokkaido’s only professional orchestra with current 74 orchestra members and around 120 performances per year. Their headquarter is the Kitara Concert Hall, which was inaugurated in 1997. The 2,000-seat hall is famous far beyond Asia for its unique acoustics.

Elias Grandy
Elias Grandy gave highly successful debuts recently with renowned orchestras, such as the Vienna Symphony, Osaka Philharmonic and Minnesota Orchestra. This season, he will return to Frankfurt Radio Symphony, National Youth Orchestra of Germany and Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Tokyo, and give debuts with Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo, Norwegian Radio Orchestra, Antwerp Symphony Orchestra, Orquesta Filarmonica de Buenos Aires and the Deutsche Radio Philharmonie Saarbrücken. Furthermore, he will take the Robert-Schumann-Philharmonie Chemnitz on a tour to Poland as their Conductor in Residence for 23/24, and appear frequently with the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra with whom he enjoys a close relationship for many years.

Elias is equally devoted as an opera conductor, feeling passionately about theatre and musically shaping the narrative of each drama. In recent years he has conducted highly acclaimed productions of Elektra and Carmen at Minnesota Opera, Werther and A Village Romeo and Juliet at Frankfurt Opera, Un ballo in maschera at Aalto-Theatre Essen, Carmen at Opera Nikikai Tokyo and Rusalka at Portland Opera. Future engagements include the SemperoperDresden and reinvitations to Frankfurt Opera and Opera Nikikai Tokyo.

Born of German-Japanese parents, Elias studied cello and conducting in Munich, Basel, and Berlin. He worked as a cellist in orchestras such as the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Komische Oper Berlin. He started his conducting career as Resident Conductor at Staatstheater Darmstadt and shortly after won the prestigious Sir Georg Solti International Conducting Competition. In 2015, he was named music director in Heidelberg, a position he held until 2023.

Photo credit: Shervin Lainez