London’s Philharmonia Orchestra, not to be confused with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, is one of the country’s leading ensembles and one of the world’s most frequently recorded orchestras. During its seven decades, the Philharmonia has attracted a dedicated world-wide audience as a result of their numerous recordings and projects using digital technology. In its seven-decade existence, the Philharmonia Orchestra has attracted and performed with many of the greatest artists of the 20th century.
The Philharmonia Orchestra was founded in 1945 by the EMI producer Walter Legge. Uniquely, the orchestra is self-governing, and has been since 1964. The orchestra is comprised of 80 members, all of which are owners. Otto Klemperer served as the Philharmonia Orchestra’s first Principal Conductor. Other conductors associated with the orchestra have included Furtwängler, Richard Strauss, Toscanini, Cantelli, Karajan, Giulini, Lorin Maazel, Sir Charles Mackerras, Riccardo Muti and Kurt Sanderling. Since 2008, the Finnish conductor and composer Esa-Pekka Salonen has served as both Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor. Currently, Jakub Hrůša and Santtu-Matias Rouvali hold the Principal Guest Conductor Positions. Honorary Conductor positions are occupied by Christoph von Dohnányi and Vladimir Ashkenazy.
Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall in London has been home to the Philharmonia Orchestra since 1995. The orchestra presents more than 50 concerts annually at Festival Hall. Additionally, they perform throughout the UK, especially at their various residencies at Bedford’s Corn Exchange, De Montfort Hall in Leicester, The Marlowe in Canterbury, The Anvil in Basingstoke (Orchestra in Partnership), Three Choirs Festival, and Garsington Opera. At each of their Residencies, the Philharmonia Education team provides educational programmes, serving to allow all people an opportunity ‘to engage and participate in orchestral music’.
In addition to the Philharmonic Orchestra’s traditional concert series, they also have several other series including Philharmonia at the Movies, the Philharmonia Chamber Players and the Insights Talks programme. Composer Unsuk Chin is the Artistic Director of the newest series, Music of Today.