Sapporo Symphony Orchestra

SSO Information


Max Pommer
Chief Conductor

Max Pommer (C) Thomas Wolter

Max Pommer was born in Leipzig, Germany. His international breakthrough as a conductor came with the "New Bach Collegium Musicum," the ensemble which he founded in 1978 when he was Music Director of the University of Leipzig(1974-1987). The recordings received international awards including the "Deutscher Schallplattenpreis" for Bach Brandenburg Concerto, and were well known in Europe and the USA long before the reunification of Germany.

Max Pommer studied conducting and piano at the Academy of Music and completed the doctorate course at the University of Leipzig. From 1987 to 1991, he was Principal Conductor of the Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra (MDR), and from 1990 to 2003, he was Professor in conducting at the Saarland Academy of Music, Saarbrücken. At the Academy, Dr. Pommer founded "Saar-Lor-Lux Orchestra," the orchestra which made artistic contribution to European unification. Luxemburger Wort commented to Max Pommer's work with this orchestra as "His ensemble showed flawless technical mastery of the material, and the conductor's gestures, both functional and evocative, did the rest. We experienced a rousing concert of the highest quality," and Est-Republicain, Nancy  wrote, "Saar-Lor-Lux -orchestra de luxe."

From 1991, Max Pommer was closely connected with the Hamburg Camerata, one of the excellent Hamburg ensembles, and appointed Artistic Director in 2001. Apart from regular concert series in the Hamburg Musikhalle, the ensemble appeared at the prestigious festivals including Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg Borpommern, and MDR Musiksommer. In 2000, he was appointed to be the First Regular Guest Conductor of the Holland Sinfonia (former Noordhollands Philharmonisch Orkest.)

Max Pommer worked regularly with renowned orchestras including the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine, Mozarteum Orchestra Salzburg (orchestra related with Salzburg Festival and toured through Spain and the USA), and South-West Radio Orchestra In April 2008, WR Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden und Freiburg.  In 2009 he conducted "Das Rheingold" staged by Brigitte Fassbaender in Innsbruck. In April 2008, he was invited to conduct the Nagoya Philharmonic Orchestra, and since then he regularly visits Japan to conduct the Sapporo Symphony Orchestra, Yamagata Symphony Orchestra, Kyoto Symphony Orchestra, Osaka Philharmonic Orchestra, Japan Philharmonic Orchestra and many others. In April 2015, Max Pommer becomes Chief Conductor of the Sapporo Symphony Orchestra.

The list of Max Pommer's discography is long and varied. 22 recordings for Capriccio with orchestral works by Bach, Handel and Debussy, symphonies and early operas by Mozart for Berlin Classics, the complete symphonic works of the Finnish composer, Rautavaara and works by Kurt Weill for the Finnish label Ondine, and many works by Eisler, Dessau, Schönberg and other contemporary Germany composers for Eterna.

Max Pommer lives in Saarbrücken, Germany.

Tadaaki Otaka C.B.E.
Honorary Music Director

Tadaaki Otaka C.B.E. (C) Masahide Sato

Honorary Music Director --- Sapporo Symphony Orchestra

Permanent Conductor --- NHK Symphony Orchestra

Conductor Laureate --- BBC National Orchestra of Wales

Conductor Laureate --- Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra

Honorary Guest Conductor --- Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra

Honorary Conductor Laureate --- Kioi Sinfonietta Tokyo


Tadaaki Otaka was born in 1947 in Kamakura, Japan. He studied at Toho Gakuen School of Music under the famous professor Hideo Saito, who taught such distinguished conductors as Seiji Ozawa and Hiroshi Wakasugi, before continuing his studies in Vienna with Professor Hans Swarowsky and Professor Spannagel. 


One of Japan's leading conductors, Tadaaki Otaka made his professional broadcasting debut in 1971 with the NHK Symphony Orchestra and for 20 years served as Permanent Conductor of the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, with which he toured extensively in Asia and Europe, being made the orchestra's Conductor Laureate in 1991. In September 2012, he toured with the orchestra to China (Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin) to commemorate 40 years of the normalization of diplomatic ties between Japan and China.


In addition, he was Chief Conductor (1981 to 1986), Music Advisor and Principal Conductor (1998 to 2004) and Music Director (2005 to 2015) of the Sapporo Symphony Orchestra, and became their Honorary Music Director in April 2015.  He led their UK tour in 2001 and Korea tour in 2005 successfully. Following his tenure with the Tokyo Philharmonic, Mr Otaka was made Permanent Conductor of the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra from l992 to 1998 (currently Honorary Guest Conductor) and his symphonic and operatic recordings with the orchestra brought much critical acclaim, as did their European tour.


Now a popular and familiar figure on podiums throughout the world, he is particularly known in the UK, where he is invited as Guest Conductor to the London Symphony, London Philharmonic, BBC Symphony, City of Birmingham Symphony, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Royal Scottish National, Hallé, Bournemouth Symphony, Ulster Orchestra and English Chamber Orchestra. In 1987, Mr Otaka became Principal Conductor of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales (formerly the BBC Welsh Symphony Orchestra) and made his Prom debut with them the following year.  To quote London's Sunday Times: "In his eight years with the orchestra Otaka had worked wonders in Wales." His many appearances in UK and overseas include BBC NOW tours to European countries, Russia, and the Orchestra's first-ever Japanese and North American visits. Outside the UK, he has received invitations to the Rotterdam Philharmonic, Bamberg Philharmonic, Strasbourg Philharmonic, Warsaw Philharmonic, Bergen Philharmonic, Oslo Philharmonic, Netherlands Philharmonic, Hong Kong Philharmonic and others.


Mr. Otaka is the first ever Music Adviser and Principal Conductor of the Kioi Sinfonietta, one of Japan's finest ensembles, and after leading them on their first overseas tour of Europe in 2000, became their Honorary Conductor Laureate in September 2003.

In the field of opera production, he has received high acclaim for his direction of Britten's Peter Grimes with Sapporo Symphony Orchestra in September 2008. Other productions of his include Beethoven's Fidelio, J.Strauss II's Die Fledermaus, Puccini's La Tosca, Wagner's Tannhaeuser with Tokyo Nikikai Opera Foundation; Bizet's Carmen, Weber's Der Freischuetz with Kansai Nikikai Opera Foundation; R.Strauss's Salome with Wales National Opera; and Britten's Peter Grimes with Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra.


Mr. Otaka's wide-ranging activities include premieres of works by such distinguished composers as Teizo Matsumura, Toru Takemitsu and Akira Miyoshi, many much-praised recordings with BBC NOW by Nimbus, BIS, Chandos and Camerata Tokyo, and his dedication to nurturing future talent led to involvement with the National Youth Orchestra of Britain and the Britten-Pears Orchestra of which he was Director for three years.


In 1991, Tadaaki Otaka received the prestigious Suntory Music Award, given each year to the most impressive Japanese ensemble or individual musician. In 1993, the Welsh College of Music and Drama conferred an Honorary Fellowship on Tadaaki Otaka, and he also holds an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Wales. In 1997, he was awarded the CBE, in recognition of his outstanding contribution over many years to British musical life. He is also the first Japanese ever to receive the Elgar Medal in 1999, for his continuous efforts at spreading the works by Elgar outside the UK.


Updated April 2015


Radomil ELIŠKA
Honorary Conductor

Radomil ELIŠKA (C) Masahide Sato

Radomil Eliška was born in 1931 at the Czech Republic and studied conducting at the Janáček Academy of Music in Brno (JAMU) with Professor Břetislav Bakala, direct disciple of Leoš Janáček. From 1969 to 1990, Eliška was the Principal Conductor and Music Director of the Karlovy Vary Symphony Orchestra in the Czech, the distinguished orchestra known for playing the European premiere of Dvořák's Symphony "From the New World." In 1978, he was also invited to teach conducting at the Academy of Music in Prague (AMU), where he taught for 33 years, within which the last 17 years as the college professor. From 2001 to 2013, Eliška was the President of the Czech Antonín Dvořák Society. As a guest conductor, he conducted the Czech Philharmonic and almost all the orchestras in Czech, as well as appeared in Prague Spring International Music Festival. As guest conducting, he was also invited to Germany, Austria, Spain and former Soviet Union. His debut performance in Japan was in 2004.
Eliška made his first performance with the Sapporo Symphony Orchestra in 2006, and was appointed the Principal Guest Conductor of the orchestra in 2008, and in 2015, appointed the Honorary Conductor. Live performances of Dvořák's Symphony No. 5 to No. 9 were released, and the combination of Eliška and the Sapporo Symphony Orchestra was reviewed with much enthusiasm. His charms are now expanding beyond Czech music and projects on Brahms cycle and Tchaikovsky's three major symphonies are underway.

Updated April 2015