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Ragnar Bohlin


Ragnar Bohlin

As Chorus Director for the San Francisco Symphony since 2007, Mr. Bohlin prepares the chorus for some of the world’s greatest conductors, such as Michael Tilson Thomas, Herbert Blomstedt, Charles Dutoit, Esa-Pekka Salonen and Alan Gilbert. He has also conducted them in such pieces as Orff’s Carmina Burana, Handel’s Messiah, Bach’s Christmas Oratorio and Mass in B Minor, and Poulenc’s Figure Humaine. His outstanding work has been recognized with a Grammy Award for Best Choral Performance for Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 with Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony.


In 2014 Ragnar Bohlin founded the professional chamber choir Cappella SF. With them he has recorded four CDs, “Light of Gold”, “Facing West: Choral Music of Conrad Susa and David Conte”, “Timeless”, and “Mass Transmission, music by Mason Bates”.


Guest conducting engagements have brought Mr. Bohlin to many ensembles around the world, such as the Swedish Radio Choir, with who has been a returning guest and recorded two CDs, The BBC Singers, The Ericson Chamber Choir, Chanticleer, The Sao Paulo, Edmonton, Stavanger and Malmö Symphonies. In June 2010, he made his Carnegie Hall debut conducting Brahms’ “Ein Deutsches Requiem”. In 2019 he conducted Bach’s Mass in B-minor in Shanghai and The Formosa Singers in Taiwan.


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Before his appointment in San Francisco he was choirmaster of Stockholm’s Maria Magdalena Church and the Stockholm Philharmonic Choir, and appeared regularly on Swedish radio with the Maria Magdalena Motet Choir and The Maria Vocal Ensemble. Mr. Bohlin toured internationally with his Swedish choirs—the KFUM Chamber Choir, the Maria Magdalena Motet Choir and the Maria Vocal Ensemble—earning prizes in international competitions and such distinctions as the prestigious Johannes Norrby Medal in 2006 for expanding the frontiers of Swedish choral music making.


Mr. Bohlin studied conducting with Jorma Panula and the legendary choir director Eric Ericson, piano with Peter Feuchtwanger in London on a British Council scholarship, and singing with the great Swedish tenor Nicolai Gedda. Mr. Bohlin is also on the faculty of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and has been a guest professor at the Stockholm, Miami, Michigan and Indiana Universities.

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Press Quotes

“Directed by Ragnar Bohlin, the chorus shined throughout this taxing performance; the male chorus was especially well balanced and firmly blended.”
Mercury News
January 12, 2013

“The most striking thing about Wednesday’s often potent account of Bach’s B-Minor Mass was the mastery with which conductor Ragnar Bohlin managed the surge and flow of the work’s weightiest sections. It was a virtuoso display of musical hydrodynamics. There were other rewarding aspects to the performance. But Bohlin shone most impressively when wrangling Bach’s dense contrapuntal textures into fluid, eloquent shape. The chorus responded with alacrity to Bohlin’s leadership, and the orchestra sounded superb throughout.”
San Francisco Chronicle
March 17, 2011

“The evening opened with Urbaitis’s Lacrimosa, a gorgeously ruminative, a cappella effusion that, makes much of modest materials, and concludes with a statement of Mozart’s Lacrimosa motif. The chorus, under the sage leadership of Ragnar Bohlin, made one eager to hear more from the Lithuanian composer.”
Financial Times
February 24, 2011

“Bohlin proceeded to lead Poulenc’s masterpiece entirely from memory and with enormous passion and conviction. The San Francisco Symphony Chorus was in rare form, performing with excellent diction, a wide range of tone color, and exquisite balance.”
San Francisco Classical Voice
June 6, 2008

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