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Guide to the Philharmonia Orchestra

We preview Salonen's final season with the Philharmonia
Esa-Pekka Salonen first conducted the orchestra in September 1983 as a jump-in replacement for Michael Tilson Thomas in a performance of Mahler 3. He was just 25 years old. In 2008 he became their chief conductor. The 2020-21 season marks the final season with ESP as Principal Conductor. He hands over to another Finn, the young and exciting Santtu-Matias Rouvali.

“I don’t suppose it’s possible to give a perfect performance of a Mahler symphony. There are too many themes, too many interlocking parts – put simply, too many notes for every one to be perfect. What is possible, though, is to give a performance which grabs the listener from the first bars and carries them through 90 minutes of music without letting go, surprising and enthralling at every moment. I know this because at the Royal Festival Hall last night, that’s exactly what Jakub Hrůša and the Philharmonia accomplished with the Resurrection Symphony.”

David Karlin, Bachtrack

Find Philharmonia Orchestra concerts
Video introduction
Interviews during 2019-20 season
Biography

Founded in 1945, the Philharmonia is a world-class symphony orchestra for the 21st century. The Orchestra’s home is Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall, in the heart of London, where the Philharmonia has been resident since 1995 and presents a season of around 50 performances each year. Under Principal Conductor & Artistic Advisor Esa-Pekka Salonen, the Philharmonia has created a series of critically-acclaimed, visionary projects, distinctive for both their artistic scope and supporting live and digital content. Recent series include Stravinsky: Myths & Rituals (2016), which won a South Bank Sky Arts Award. In 2019, Salonen presents his newest series with the Orchestra, Weimar Berlin: Bittersweet Metropolis.

The Philharmonia is resident orchestra at Bedford Corn Exchange, De Montfort Hall in Leicester, The Marlowe in Canterbury, The Anvil in Basingstoke, the Three Choirs Festival in the West of England, and Garsington Opera. At the heart of these residencies is an education programme that empowers people in every community to engage with, and participate in, orchestral music.

Internationally, the Philharmonia is active across Europe, Asia and the USA. In 2018/19, the Orchestra performs extensively in Europe and undertakes three major international tours, to China and South Korea (October 2018); to Cartagena in Colombia, in a joint digital installation-live concert tour (January 2019); and to the USA (March 2019).

The Philharmonia’s international reputation in part derives from its extraordinary recording legacy, which in the last 10 years has been built on by its pioneering work with digital technology, most recently blazing a trail for classical music in Virtual Reality. VR experiences featuring music by Sibelius, Mahler and Beethoven, placing the viewer at the heart of the orchestra, have been presented at Southbank Centre and internationally.

The Philharmonia records and releases music across multiple channels and media. An app for iPad, The Orchestra, has sold tens of thousands of copies; Hollywood composers choose to record their scores for films, video games and television series with the Orchestra; the Philharmonia is Classic FM’s ‘Orchestra on Tour’ and broadcasts extensively on BBC Radio 3; with Signum Records the Philharmonia releases live recordings of signature concerts.

Finnish conductor and composer Esa-Pekka Salonen has been Principal Conductor & Artistic Advisor since 2008. Jakub Hrůša and Santtu-Matias Rouvali are Principal Guest Conductors. Christoph von Dohnányi is Honorary Conductor for Life and Vladimir Ashkenazy is Conductor Laureate. Composer Unsuk Chin is Artistic Director of the Music of Today series.

The Philharmonia’s Principal International Partner is Wuliangye.

philharmonia.co.uk