San Francisco Symphony Chorus, Ragnar Bohlin, director

The San Francisco Symphony Chorus was established in 1973 at the request of Seiji Ozawa, then the Symphony’s Music Director; the San Francisco Symphony Chorus, numbering thirty-two professional and more than 120 volunteer members, performs more than twenty concerts each season. Louis Magor served as the Chorus’s director during its first decade. In 1982 Margaret Hillis, assumed the ensemble’s leadership, and the following year Vance George was named Chorus Director, serving through 2005-06. Ragnar Bohlin assumed the position of Chorus Director in March 2007. The Chorus can be heard on many acclaimed recordings, including Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 and Mahler’s Symphonies Nos. 2, 3, and 8 (with Michael Tilson Thomas conducting), choral works of Brahms, Mahler’s Das klagende Lied, Stravinsky’s Perséphone, selections from Berlioz’s Lélio, and John Adams’s Harmonium. The ensemble has received Grammy awards for Best Performance of a Choral Work (for Orff ’s Carmina burana, Brahms’s German Requiem, and Mahler’s Symphony No. 8) and Best Classical Album (for a collection of Stravinsky’s music including Perséphone, The Firebird, and Le Sacre du printemps; and for Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 and Symphony No. 8). 

Ragnar Bohlin began his tenure as Chorus Director of the San Francisco Symphony in 2007. Mr. Bohlin served as choirmaster of Stockholm’s Maria Magdalena Church and holds degrees from the Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm. He studied conducting with Eric Ericson and Jorma Panula, piano with Peter Feuchtwanger in London, singing with Nicolai Gedda, and through a Sweden-America Foundation scholarship he visited choruses throughout the US. Currently teaching at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, he has also taught at the Royal Academy in Stockholm and been a visiting professor at Indiana University and Miami University. With the San Francisco Symphony and Chorus, he has conducted J.S. Bach’s Christmas Oratorio and B minor Mass, Handel’s Messiah, and Orff’s Carmina burana. He has also appeared as guest conductor of the Orquesta Clásica Santa Cecilia, the Madrid Choral Society, the Swedish Radio Choir, the Nordic Chamber Orchestra, and the Stavanger and Edmonton symphonies. Recent and upcoming appearances include performances in Lund and Stavanger, return engagements with the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra, and a recording of Sixten’s Saint John Passion in Stockholm. Mr. Bohlin is the founding Artistic Director of the professional chamber choir Cappella SF; the group recently released a CD of music by David Conte and Conrad Susa on the Delos label. In 2013, he was awarded the Cultural Achievement Award from the Swedish-America Chamber of Commerce in San Francisco.

(June 2016)