Rainer Held grew up in the Canton of the Grisons in Switzerland. After training to become a primary school teacher, he studied at the University of Zurich (musicology) and at the Lucerne School of Music at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts).
He completed his studies in orchestra-conducting, choir-conducting, solo singing and music education. Rainer Held received important impulses during the education by Marcello Viotti and Herbert Blomstedt. Then he studied conducting further, attending masterclasses by Harri Rodmann in Basel, Michael Dittrich in Budapest and others. He also made study visits to Salzburg in Austria and Tokyo in Japan.
Rainer Held was particularly influenced by the Russian conductor Gennady Provatorov (1929-2010), one of the great Russian personalities on the conducting scene of the former Soviet Union and later in Belarus (he was a student of Aleksandr Gauk in Moscow, a fellow student of Mravinsky and Svetlanov and in Moscow in 1962 he conducted the world première and first recording of the opera Katerina Izmailova by Dmitri Shostakovich).
From 2003 to 2010 Rainer Held was First Permanent Guest Conductor at the Radio Symphony Orchestra of Minsk in Belarus. This orchestra of the National State Tele-Radiocompany of the Republic of Belarus, over 100 musicians, is one of the leading ensembles in the Belarusian capital.
Since 2008, he has been attached to the State Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra of Novosibirsk as a permanent guest conductor. The legendary string sound of this orchestra is a direct result of the long tradition of exceptional string tuition at the Novosibirsk State Conservatory.
With this orchestra he realised many concerts, tours and recordings in Russia, Germany and Switzerland.
Since 1994 until 2015, Rainer Held has conducted the Aarau Chamber Choir in Switzerland. Together with this and other choirs, he regularly performs large-scale works of the choral and orchestral repertoire. Actually he is the artistic leader of the large rhaeto-romanic ‘Chor viril Sursés’ in Savognin and co-conductor of the Choir of PH Lucerne.
The ensembles that Rainer Held has conducted include:
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra London,
Royal Scottish National Orchestra Glasgow,
Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz,
‘Neojiba’ Symphonic Orchestra Salvador de Bahia,
Orquestra Sinfonica de la Ciudad Asuncion,
Südwestdeutsche Philharmonie Konstanz,
Siberian State Orchestra Krasnoyarsk,
State Hermitage Orchestra St. Petersburg,
Symphonisches Orchester Zürich,
Akademisches Sinfonieorchester Lviv,
Akademic Symphony Orchestra INSO Lviv,
Choir of the Philharmony Czestochowa ‘Collegium Cantorum’,
Coro da Camera Mérida (Venezuela),
Choir of the Kansai University Osaka (Japan),
The Academic Radio Choir Minsk.
Since 2003 Rainer Held is a professor in music and music education and Head of the Music Department at the University of Teacher Education Lucerne.
From 1998 to 2007 he was the lecturer and leader of the courses for choral conducting at the Lucerne School of Music at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts.
He publishes educational books with Comenius/Klett and won with ‘Kreschendo’ the ‘Worlddidac Award 2012’.
From 2005-2014, Rainer Held has been the Artistic Director (President of the Music Commission) of the Swiss Choral Union SCV/USC.
2009 - 2015, he has been active as a member of the Music Commission of the European Choral Association (ECA). He was a member of the Artistic Commission at the Festivals Europa Cantat 2012 in Turin (Italy) and 2015 in Pécs (Hungary).
In 2018 (ECA Festival Tallinn, Estonia) he led the study tour.
Rainer Held is particularly committed to orchestral and choral works by Swiss composers such as
Heinrich Sutermeister, Symphonic Works (premiere recordings and releases with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra London)
Carl Rütti (whose Concerto for Organ, Strings and Percussion he conducted at its world première and of which he has made the first recording, also the large symphony ‘The Visions of Niklaus von Flüe’. World Première of the ‘Segantini-Passacaglia’, dedicated to RH)
Caspar Diethelm (several World Premières and Première Recordings, specially a 3-CD-Box of all Symphonies with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra Glasgow.
Othmar Schoeck (different World Première Releases)
Ernst Widmer (Premier recording of the Piano-Concerto op.160)
Gion Antoni Derungs (World Premières)
Walter Müller von Kulm (‘Wisdom of the Brahma’ - first recording for Swiss Radio)
Cyrill Schürch (World Premières)
and many others.
Rainer Held’s repertoire ranges from the Baroque to the contemporary (he regularly gives first performances of new works), and takes him from a cappella choral works to Baroque oratorios, the symphonic literature for orchestra, works for chorus and orchestra, and operas.
Rainer Held has on many occasions been engaged as a coach for choirs and conductors, and the diverse activities of this conductor are rounded off by his numerous invitations to sit as an expert on juries in Switzerland and abroad for choral-, orchestral- and composition-competitions.
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra London, Royal Scottish National Orchestra Glasgow, Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz, Siberian State Symphony Orchestra Krasnoyarsk, Orquesta Sinfonica de la Ciudad Asuncion, Neojiba Orchestra Salvador de Bahia, Radio-Sinfonie-Orchester Minsk, Kammerorchester der Philharmonie Novosibirsk
Chor viril Sursés, Collegium Cantorum der Philharmonie Tschenstochau, Kammerchor Aarau, Akademischen Rundfunkchor Minsk
Swiss orchestral music and choral music,
the german romantic music
Heinrich Sutermeister, Caspar Diethelm, Carl Rütti, Othmar Schoeck, Ernst Widmer, Adolf Brunner, Cyrill Schürch, Frank Martin, Brahms, Beethoven, Bruckner
CD (see Media), Radio
Associations / Network:
ECA-EC (European Choral Association), IFCM (International Federation for Choral Music), SCV (Schweizerische Chorvereinigung)
Prof. at Pädagogische Hochschule Luzern, Sonidos de la Tierra (Paraguay), Neojiba (Brasilien), Hochschule Luzern-Musik, Guest lecturer at colleges and universities in South Korea, China, Venezuela, Belarus
Jury member in choir competitions (like International Chamber Choir Competition Spittal an der Drau, China International Chorale Festival Beijing, Austria Cantat Linz / Feldkirch, International Choir Competition Neuchâtel, Chamber Choir Competition Pécs etc.), Swiss Choir Competitions (multiple Jury President), Swiss Singing Festival (Chief Expert), Cantonal and Regional Competitions and singing festivals. Jury member of orchestral competitions. Jury member in composition competitions (Alpine Choir Festival, Koor & Stem, AGEC, ECA etc.)