The distinguished Dutch conductor HANS VONK is now in his fourth season as Music Director of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, a post he assumed in September 1996. In addition he is also Principal Guest Conductor of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic and a guest conductor with many of the most important orchestras and opera houses in Europe and North America.
Hans Vonk was born in Amsterdam. He studied piano at the Amsterdam Conservatory and conducting with Franco Ferrara and Hermann Scherchen. He also studied law at the University of Amsterdam.
Vonk’s first conducting appointment was with the Netherlands Ballet from 1966 to 1969. He then became Assistant Conductor of the Concertgebouw Orchestra. He was Chief Conductor of the Netherlands Opera from 1976-1985 during which time he was also Conductor of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic (1973-1979) and Associate Conductor of London’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (1976-1979). For eleven years from 1980-1991 Vonk was Chief Conductor of the Hague’s Residentie Orchestra and toured extensively to Europe and America. His operatic career also advanced with a debut at La Scala, Milan in 1980. No stranger to juggling positions he soon had two more when in 1985 he became Chief Conductor of both the celebrated Dresden Staatskapelle and the State Opera. The five years he spent in Dresden were ones of great historical importance and change for the city with the opening of the new Semper Opera House and the reunification of Germany. He also undertook several major tours to the USA and Europe, including concerts at the Salzburg and Lucerne festivals. In 1990 the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic again sought Vonk securing him as Principal Guest Conductor and he took a further title as Chief Conductor of the Cologne Radio Symphony (WDR) from 1991 through the 1996/97 season. He also has developed a relationship with Tokyo’s Yomiuri Nippon Symphony and has appeared in Australia several times.
Since taking the helm of the SLSO, Maestro Vonk has toured with the orchestra throughout Europe to great acclaim, including performances in London, Cologne, Amsterdam, Paris, Vienna and Madrid. On their US tours and annual visits to Carnegie Hall, they have upheld the orchestra’s reputation for compelling programming and world-class performance. Maestro Vonk has also appeared regularly as guest conductor with US orchestras such as the Philadelphia and Cleveland Orchestras, the Boston Symphony and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
Mr. Vonk’s most recent recordings are with the SLSO for the orchestra’s own label, Arch Media. The first disc, featuring Beethoven’s Third and Eighth symphonies, inaugurates a project to record all nine symphonies. This and a disc featuring Schubert’s Third and Ninth symphonies were released in the fall of 1998, and were followed in the spring of 1999 with recordings of Mahler’s Symphony No.1 and Beethoven’s Fifth and Seventh symphonies. His extensive discography also includes a complete set of the symphonies and concertos of Schumann on EMI from his time in Cologne, a Beethoven piano concerto cycle with Christian Zacharias (EMI), and a complete Der Rosenkavalier (Denon) from his time in Dresden. He can also be heard with the Residentie Orchestra in a six-volume set spanning 400 years of Dutch music (Olympia) and the songs and orchestral works of Diepenbrock (Chandos).