The Berlin Konzerthausorchester’s Chief Conductor and Artistic Director Designate
will open her DG discography with an album of works by Kurt Weill
Later this year, she will conduct a gala concert to mark the Yellow Label’s 125th anniversary
With her Faustian ability to fathom the meaning behind every note on the page, her desire to establish a meaningful dialogue with her orchestra, and her determination to weave the finest individual performances into a seamless musical whole, Joana Mallwitz has earned a reputation as a truly exceptional conductor.
Deutsche Grammophon is now delighted to announce the signing of an exclusive contract with the German conductor. Joana Mallwitz becomes Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the Berlin Konzerthausorchester at the start of the 2023-24 season, following a five-year term as General Music Director of the Staatstheater Nürnberg.
Mallwitz’s relationship with DG will focus on her work with the Berlin Konzerthausorchester, with a range of audio, video and livestreamed projects set to reflect the breadth and diversity of her artistry. Equally at home in the opera house and the concert hall, she has a repertoire that spans all eras and genres.
Her debut DG album will present Kurt Weill’s Symphonies Nos. 1 & 2 and his satirical ballet Die sieben Todsünden(The Seven Deadly Sins), featuring vocalist Katharine Mehrling. By contrast, Mallwitz will then turn her attention to the Viennese Classical school, with a recording of Haydn’s The Creation (Die Schöpfung), one of the composer’s greatest masterworks. Future projects will explore the long and distinguished history of the Konzerthaus Berlin as both playhouse and concert hall, embracing works in which the worlds of theatre and music collide, and compositions with a close connection to Berlin and the venue itself.
“It’s an enormous pleasure to become part of the Deutsche Grammophon family,” says Joana Mallwitz. “Yellow Label recordings have always been part of my life, and they’ve helped shape my music-making. I’m honoured to have the opportunity to make my own personal contribution to DG’s diverse catalogue. Our first project together focuses on the two symphonies by Kurt Weill – fantastic, exciting music firmly rooted in the city of Berlin. These works are still not as well known as they deserve to be and our main aim is to do them justice in our recordings. By contrast, Die sieben Todsünden has made the leap into the international repertoire. This brilliant work is emblematic of the Kurt Weill who, after emigration and exile, acquired a worldwide community of fans, and created a musical connection between the Old and New Worlds. That’s a gift whose importance can’t be overstated, especially today. The fascination exerted by Haydn’s Die Schöpfung for centuries needs no explanation. And yet that’s precisely what attracts me to this work. It’s by re-examining these musical landmarks time and again, and always performing them as if it were for the first time that we rediscover ourselves as musicians. I can think of no better partners for this than the Berlin Konzerthausorchester players and Deutsche Grammophon. I’m full of anticipation for our time together.”
“Having known Joana Mallwitz for a long time, I am thrilled to announce her addition to our family of artists,” comments Dr Clemens Trautmann, President Deutsche Grammophon. “We now have a wonderful opportunity to work closely with her and our esteemed partners at the Konzerthaus Berlin. Joana has a rare ability to inspire and engage with her audiences, thanks to her boundless imagination, precise musicianship and consummate artistic integrity. We welcome her very warmly to Deutsche Grammophon and look forward to sharing her insightful artistry with music-lovers worldwide through a wide-ranging array of audio and video productions.”
Sebastian Nordmann, Intendant of the Konzerthaus Berlin, adds “The Konzerthaus Berlin and its orchestra have enjoyed a successful collaboration with DG for several years now. I am particularly pleased that we can continue this in company with Joana Mallwitz, because her artistic approach is the perfect fit for that existing partnership – combining the familiar with the new.”
Born in Hildesheim in 1986, Joana Mallwitz began studying violin at the age of three, and piano two years later. At 13, the experience of hearing Schubert’s “Unfinished” Symphony for the first time convinced her to pursue a career as a conductor. That same year she enrolled at the Hanover University of Music and Performing Arts to study piano and conducting. In 2006, she began working at the Theater Heidelberg and soon made her professional debut, stepping in last minute to conduct a performance of Madama Butterfly.
She became the youngest General Music Director in Europe when she was appointed to that role at the Theater Erfurt in 2014. It was there that she conceived and established her Expeditionskonzerte, a series of concerts introducing audiences to key aspects of the music they are about to hear. She took this popular format with her to the Staatstheater Nürnberg, where she became GMD in 2018, and will continue it in Berlin. During her time in Nuremberg, she was named Opernwelt’s Conductor of the Year, was awarded the Order of the Bavarian Constitution, and made headline news around the world with her acclaimed debut at the Salzburg Festival, conducting Mozart’s Così fan tutte. She was the first female artist in the Festival’s 100-year history to be invited to conduct a new operatic production and take charge of a full run of performances. Mallwitz made her guest-conducting debut with the Berlin Konzerthausorchester during the 2020-21 season and was named as Christoph Eschenbach’s successor soon after.
Joana Mallwitz launches her first season at the Konzerthaus Berlin on 1 September with the first symphonies of Prokofiev, Weill and Mahler. Other Berlin highlights include Expeditionskonzerte devoted to Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du printemps (21 September) and Mendelssohn’s “Italian” Symphony (19 November) and, on 6 December, a special concert to mark DG’s 125th anniversary. She will make her concert debut with the Wiener Philharmoniker early in 2024, during the Salzburg Mozartwoche, and will conduct the Berliner Philharmoniker for the first time in 2025.