Born in Hanover in 1967, Ilona Schmiel studied Music Education, Classical Philology and Cultural Management in Berlin and Oslo, beginning her career with the Donaueschingen Festival and the Olympic Arts Festival in Lillehammer. She was also project manager of the Arena di Verona’s worldwide opera tours, as well as holding a post as guest lecturer at the Hanns Eisler Academy of Music in Berlin.
In 1998, as Germany’s youngest director, she took on the management and artistic direction of Bremen’s Die Glocke concert hall, a position she held until 2002. From 2004 until 2013, she was Artistic Director and General Manager of the Beethovenfest Bonn (Beethoven Festival). Under her aegis, the Beethoven Festival was awarded the distinction of “European Culture Brand 2012.” In recognition of her services to the Beethoven Festival, she subsequently received the Order of Merit of North Rhine-Westphalia in January 2017.
Ilona Schmiel has guided the fortunes of the Tonhalle Society Zurich since the beginning of the 2014/15 season, bearing responsibility for all the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich’s concerts and tours as well as a variety of concert series. From 2005 to 2007, she was also a member of the jury of the German Cultural Federal Foundation. Since 2007, she has been on the jury of the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation; since 2009, Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen; since 2010, guest lecturer at the Munich Academy of Music and the Freie Universität Berlin; and since 2012, a member of the Board of the Beethoven Haus Bonn as well as the Council of the University of Bonn. From 2012 to 2014. Since 2014, Ilona Schmiel has also been a member of the Council of the Munich Academy of Music and Dance, as well as being on the Board of Trustees of the Concours Géza Anda, Zurich, the Artistic Committee of the Zurich Festival, and the Board of the Collegium Novum Zürich. Ilona Schmiel’s contract with the Tonhalle Society Zurich has been extended until 2024.