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Germany's Württemberg Chamber Orchestra Heilbronn Hires New Music Director

Estonian conductor Risto Joost will assume the role as of the 2024/25 concert season


Württemberg Chamber Orchestra Heilbronn (WKO) has appointed Estonian conductor Risto Joost as its fourth music director and chief conductor for the beginning of the 2024/25 season.

Selected by WKO’s board of trustees, artistic director, and orchestra board, he will succeed American conductor Case Scaglione, who will have held the position for six seasons.

Joost has appeared with WKO before on several concert projects — the most recent being a guest performance in July 2022 at Germany’s Festival of European Church Music in Schwäbisch Gmünd, with works by Pēteris Vasks.

“We are very happy to have found a conductor in Risto Joost who can already look back on an impressive international career,” said WKO director Rainer Neumann in the press release. “This underscores the radiance and reputation of the WKO artistic competence and a likable personality. For us, he is the ideal candidate for this responsible position.”

Born in 1980 in Tallinn, Estonia, Joost studied conducting, choir direction, and singing at the Estonian Academy of Music and University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna. In 2008, he graduated from the Royal College of Music Stockholm studying with Jorma Panula.

In 1999, he founded the chamber choir Voces Musicales (now known as Voces Tallinn) in Estonia. In 2017, he was appointed artistic director of the Birgitta Opera Festival Tallinn

He has guest-conducted the Helsinki Philharmonic, Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, Bavarian State Orchestra, Dortmund Philharmonic, Prague Radio Symphony, Netherlands Chamber Orchestra, Estonian National Symphony, and many more.

As a choral conductor, he has worked with the RIAS Chamber Choir, SWR Vokalensemble, Rundfunkchor Berlin, Swedish Radio Choir, and the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir. Between 2015 and 2019, he was artistic director of the MDR Leipzig Radio Choir.

Since the 2020/21 season, Joost has served as artistic director of the Theater Vanemuine — a traditional three-genre theater in Tartu, the second largest city in Estonia.

“[We are convinced that] under his artistic direction, the WKO will continue to expand its position as a top orchestra among chamber orchestras,” said Tomás Bayón, chairman of the WKO Foundation Council. “With Risto Joost, we were able to engage a conductor who is well known to the WKO family and is highly valued by the musicians and the professional world."

“A musically refreshing relationship between the orchestra and the conductor can only develop if the orchestra wants to become the conductor’s instrument and express his ideal sound on stage,” added chairman of the orchestra board, Konstanze Felber-Faur. “We have already been able to build up this relationship with him as guest conductor. We are really looking forward to intensifying this and getting involved with one another.”

“The city is pleased and grateful about this decision,” added Heilbronn’s cultural mayor Agnes Christner. “With Risto Joost, a versatile musical personality is coming to Heilbronn, who can look back on immense management experience with renowned ensembles. He will be able to inspire the Heilbronn audience in the long term, especially thanks to the deep artistic connection that [he] and the WKO have already established together.”

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