The Philharmonia is one of the world’s great orchestras. Acknowledged as the UK’s foremost musical pioneer, with an extraordinary recording legacy, the Philharmonia leads the field for its quality of playing and for its residencies, music education and the innovative use of the latest technology in reaching new audiences. These, and the relationships it has with the world’s most sought-after artists, most importantly its Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor, Esa-Pekka Salonen, place the Philharmonia Orchestra at the heart of British musical life.
THE UK’S NATIONAL ORCHESTRA
Today, the Philharmonia can justifiably claim to be the UK’s national orchestra. It is committed to bringing the same quality, live music making that it presents in London to venues throughout the country. It also performs frequently in the great concert halls of the world. In 2012/13 the Orchestra is performing more than 160 concerts, as well as recording scores for films, CDs and computer games. Under Esa-Pekka Salonen a series of flagship, visionary projects – City of Dreams: Vienna 1900 -1935 (2009), Bill Viola’s Tristan und Isolde (2010) and Infernal Dance: Inside the World of Béla Bartók (2011) – have been critically acclaimed.
For 19 years now the Orchestra has delivered a much admired UK and International Residency Programme. This began in 1995 with the launch of residencies at the Bedford Corn Exchange and London’s Southbank Centre. During 2013/14 the Orchestra performs more than 35 concerts at the Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall. It celebrates its 17th year as Resident Orchestra of De Montfort Hall in Leicester and its 13th year as Orchestra in Partnership at The Anvil in Basingstoke. It enters the third year of new residencies at the new Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury and the Three Choirs Festival in the West of England.
The Orchestra’s extensive overseas touring schedule last season included a Beethoven Cycle at the Bonn Beethovenfest (October 2012), a tour of the USA featuring a three-concert residency at Berkeley, California and performances at Disney Hall, Los Angeles, and the Lincoln Center, New York (November 2012). In February 2013 it toured Japan.
The Philharmonia Orchestra made its debut on 27 October, 1945. During its first seven decades it has collaborated with most of the great classical artists of the time. Conductors associated with the Orchestra include Furtwängler, Richard Strauss, Toscanini, Cantelli, Karajan and Giulini. Otto Klemperer was the first of a series of outstanding Principal Conductors. Other great names have included Lorin Maazel (Associate Principal Conductor), Sir Charles Mackerras (Principal Guest Conductor), Riccardo Muti (Principal Conductor and Music Director), Kurt Sanderling (Conductor Emeritus) and Giuseppe Sinopoli (Music Director). As well as Esa-Pekka Salonen, current titled conductors are Christoph von Dohnányi (Honorary Conductor for Life) and Vladimir Ashkenazy (Conductor Laureate).
COMMITMENT TO NEW MUSIC AND MUSICIANS
The Philharmonia Orchestra prides itself on long-term collaborations with the finest musicians of our day, supporting new as well as established artists. This policy extends into the Orchestra itself, where many of the players also pursue solo or chamber music careers. The Philharmonia’s Martin Musical Scholarship Fund has for many years supported talented musicians at the start of their careers. Its Orchestral Awards allow two young players every year to gain performing experience with the Orchestra.
The Orchestra is recognised for its innovative programming policy, at the heart of which is a commitment to performing and commissioning new works by leading composers. One such composer, Unsuk Chin, is also Artistic Director of its Music of Today series. Since 1945 the Philharmonia Orchestra has commissioned more than 100 new works from composers including Sir Harrison Birtwistle, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, Mark-Anthony Turnage and James MacMillan.
A TRADITION OF INNOVATION
Throughout its history, the Philharmonia has sought new ways to bring its top quality live performance to audiences worldwide, and has used new technologies to achieve this. Millions of people since 1945 have enjoyed their first experience of classical music through a Philharmonia recording, and today audiences can engage with the Orchestra through webcasts, podcasts, applications, computer games, and film scores. More than 3,500 people a month download free Philharmonia video podcasts, which include artist interviews and features on repertoire and projects; these films have also been watched by more than one million people on YouTube.
Recording and broadcasting continue to play a significant part in the Orchestra’s activities, notably through its partnership with Signum Records, releasing new live recordings of Philharmonia performances with its key conductors. Since 2003 the Philharmonia has enjoyed a major partnership with Classic FM, as The Classic FM Orchestra on Tour, as well as continuing to broadcast on BBC Radio 3.
In May 2010 the ‘virtual Philharmonia Orchestra’ project, RE-RITE, won both the RPS Audience Development and Creative Communication Awards, and after appearances in London, Leicester and Lisbon, toured to Dortmund, Tianjin (China) and Izmir (Turkey). RE-RITE, devised with Esa-Pekka Salonen, secured the Philharmonia’s position as a digital innovator. It was followed by Universe of Sound: The Planets, premièred at the Science Museum between May and August 2012, and due to tour to Birmingham and Canterbury in May and June 2013. In 2012, the Philharmonia released a highly successful iPad app called The Orchestra.