Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
As the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) celebrates its seventy-fifth anniversary, its mission to enrich lives through orchestral experiences that are uncompromising in their excellence and inclusive in their appeal, places the RPO at the forefront of music-making in the UK and internationally. Typically performing approximately 200 concerts each season and with a worldwide audience of more than half-a-million people, the Orchestra embraces a broad repertoire that enables it to reach the most diverse audience of any British symphony orchestra. Whilst artistic integrity remains paramount, the RPO is unafraid to push boundaries and is equally at home recording video game, film and television soundtracks and working with pop stars, as it is performing the great symphonic repertoire.
The RPO collaborates with the most inspiring artists and was thrilled to welcome Vasily Petrenko as its new Music Director in August 2021. His appointment stands as a major landmark in the Orchestra’s history, signalling its determination to broaden the audience for orchestral music while enhancing its reputation as one of the world’s most versatile ensembles. Vasily Petrenko made his debut with the RPO at London’s Royal Albert Hall in March 2016 delivering a powerful interpretation of Mahler’s Symphony No.2, ‘Resurrection’. His rapport with the Orchestra’s players has been reaffirmed with subsequent London performances, and forthcoming plans include a series of Mahler’s choral symphonies at the Royal Albert Hall, the great works of English composers at the Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall, and tours to Germany and leading European festivals. Vasily Petrenko joins a roster of titled conductors that includes Pinchas Zukerman (Principal Guest Conductor), Alexander Shelley (Principal Associate Conductor) and Grzegorz Nowak (Permanent Associate Conductor).
In addition to the Orchestra’s annual season of concerts in London’s Royal Albert Hall, Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall and its home Cadogan Hall, the RPO is a respected cultural ambassador and enjoys a busy schedule of international touring, performing in the world’s great concerts halls and at prestigious international festivals.
The RPO is recognised as being the UK’s most in-demand orchestra, an accolade that would have pleased Sir Thomas Beecham, who founded the RPO in 1946. His mission was to lead a vital revival of UK orchestras after World War II and form an ensemble that comprised the finest musicians in the country. The Orchestra has since attracted a glittering list of principal conductors, including Rudolf Kempe, Antal Doráti, Walter Weller, André Previn, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Yuri Temirkanov, Daniele Gatti and Charles Dutoit.
The RPO aims to place orchestral music at the heart of contemporary society, collaborating with creative partners to foster a deeper engagement with communities to ensure that live orchestral music is accessible to as inclusive and diverse an audience as possible. To achieve this, in 1993 the Orchestra launched RPO Resound, which has grown to become the most innovative and respected orchestral community and education programme in the UK and internationally.
The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra has always been entrepreneurial and in 1986 it was the first UK orchestra to launch its own record label. The RPO has gone on to embrace advances in digital technology and now achieves nearly thirty million downloads of its recorded music each year. The Orchestra is increasingly active online (rpo.co.uk) and on social media (@rpoonline) providing audiences with the opportunity to engage with the RPO and enjoy ‘behind-the-scenes’ insights.
Passion, versatility and uncompromising artistic standards are the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra’s hallmarks, and as it looks forward to an exciting future with its new Music Director, Vasily Petrenko, it will continue to be recognised as one of the world’s most open-minded, forward-thinking and accessible symphony orchestras.