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Guide to the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

April 2018
Evening performance
Matinee performance
« The opening brass playing was round and full-toned, a sense of stately gleam flashing across serene violins and sedate woodwind. Hustle and bustle preceded and contrasted with moments of rich lyricism and grandeur; Shelley drew bold, glossy playing from the orchestra, placing a clear emphasis on colour. »
Dominic Lowe, Bachtrack

« In the latest instalment of Alexander Shelley’s evocative Myths and Fairytales series with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the imagination was given a thorough workout with magical imagery of a mountainside witches’ sabbath, a nocturnal journey of wonderment through nature, and an epic tale of emancipation and heroism against the might of the Roman army. Hot-blooded stuff indeed for a chilly night in London. »
Mark Thomas, Bachtrack

Upcoming eventsSee more...

GenevaSenior Finals

Bruch, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Prokofiev, Saint-Saëns
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; Julian Rachlin; Senior finalists of the Menuhin competition

GenevaClosing Gala Concert

Mozart, Vivaldi, Kreisler, Tchaikovsky
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; Julian Rachlin; Prizewinners of the Menuhin Competition; Maxim Vengerov; Soyoung Yoon

BromleyFrom the New World

From the New World
Rossini, Bruch, Dvořák
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; Gianluca Marcianò; Sonoko Miriam Shimano Welde

LondonPinchas Zukerman performs Bruch

Pinchas Zukerman performs Bruch
Sibelius, Bruch, Elgar
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; Pinchas Zukerman

SwindonFrom the New World

From the New World
Rossini, Bruch, Dvořák
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; Gianluca Marcianò; Sonoko Miriam Shimano Welde
Latest reviewsSee more...

Intense Elgar from Isserlis and RPO

Steven Isserlis © Satoshi Aoyagi
Uncertain Britten from Dausgaard and the RPO, but intense and passionate Elgar from Isserlis, and powerfully engaging Rachmaninov featuring exceptional woodwind playing from the RPO.
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Two Dons and a señor: Payare’s debut with the RPO

Rafael Payare © Askonas Holt
Rafael Payare, in his first appearance with the RPO, has musical encounters with Don Juan and Don Quixote, and a Mozart symphony provides a suitable contrast.
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Fantasy and dreams from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Alexander Shelley © Thomas Dagg
Continuing its interesting series “Myths and Fairytales”, the Royal Philharmonic gave colourful interpretations of the Hänsel und Gretel overture and Peer Gynt.
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Tales of wonderment and vivid imagery

Yi-Jia Susanne Hou © Wright Music Management
Alexander Shelley curated a hot-blooded programme of adventure and imagery with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, with Susanne Hou showing extraordinary technique and class in Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto.
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A Liszt rarity and Mahler staple from Volkov and the RPO

Ilan Volkov © Simon Butterworth
Unusual links between works of Liszt, Beethoven and Mahler explored by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Ilan Volkov and with Pavel Kolesnikov as soloist.
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For more than seven decades the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) has been at the forefront of music-making in the UK. Its home base since 2004 at London’s Cadogan Hall serves as a springboard for seven principal residencies as well as more than forty-five concerts per year in long-term partnership venues across the country, often in areas where access to live orchestral music is very limited. In London, the Orchestra’s regular performances at Cadogan Hall are complemented by a distinguished series at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall and a hugely popular series at the Royal Albert Hall. With a wider reach than any other UK large ensemble, the RPO has truly become Britain’s national orchestra.

Alongside its concert series, the RPO embraces twenty-first-century opportunities, including appearances with pop stars and on video game, film and television soundtracks, whilst its artistic priority remains paramount: the making of great music at the highest level for the widest possible audience. This would have been lauded by its Founder and first conductor, Sir Thomas Beecham, who set up the RPO in 1946, leading a vital revival in the UK’s orchestral life after World War II.

Since then, the Orchestra’s principal conductors have included Rudolf Kempe, Antal Doráti, Walter Weller, André Previn, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Yuri Temirkanov, Daniele Gatti and Charles Dutoit; and its repertoire has encompassed every strand of music from the core classical repertoire to music of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, and works by leading composers of recent years, such as Sir Peter Maxwell Davies and Sir John Tavener. Today, the RPO continues to work with artists of the highest calibre, including Pinchas Zukerman, its inspirational Principal Guest Conductor; Alexander Shelley, its dynamic young Principal Associate Conductor since January 2015, and its esteemed Permanent Associate Conductor, Grzegorz Nowak. The Orchestra is looking forward to appointing its next Artistic Director and Principal Conductor shortly.

International touring is vital to the Orchestra’s work, taking it to many prestigious destinations worldwide. Recent engagements include concerts at the festivals of Montreux, Lucerne and Granada, an extensive tour of the USA, and visits to central Europe and the Far East, including South Korea and China.

In 2018, RPO Resound, the Orchestra’s community and education programme, marks its twenty-fifth anniversary. Throughout its history it has thrived on taking music into the heart of the regions that the Orchestra serves. From Azerbaijan to Jamaica and from Shanghai to Scunthorpe, the team – comprising the majority of the Orchestra – has worked with young people, the homeless, recovering stroke patients (in the award-winning STROKESTRA project in Hull) and in settings ranging from the Sea Life London Aquarium to hospitals, orphanages and children’s hospices.

In 1986, the RPO became the first UK orchestra to launch its own record label. The Orchestra has embraced digital advances and continuing its tradition of entrepreneurial innovation, in 2017 the RPO teamed up with the concert-enhancing app, EnCue by Octava, becoming the first orchestra in Europe to offer its audiences real-time programme notes for selected performances delivered to their mobile or tablet devices. The Orchestra has become increasingly active on social media platforms, inviting audiences to engage informally on Facebook and Twitter (@rpoonline) and to enjoy behind-the-scenes insights on the RPO website (, YouTube (RPOOnline) and Instagram (@RPOOnline).

As the RPO proudly looks to its future, its versatility and high standards mark it out as one of today’s most open-minded, forward-thinking symphony orchestras.