Music

BBC Philharmonic

Formed 1982.
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Sibelius: Finlandia

The BBC Philharmonic in Sibelius's Finlandia.

Featured in BBC Music Clips
 

Biography

The BBC Philharmonic is based at MediaCityUK in Salford and performs an annual season of concerts at Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall, as well as regular concerts in Hanley, Leeds, Kendal and other venues across the north of England. As one of the BBC’s six performing groups the majority of the orchestra’s concerts are broadcast on BBC Radio 3.

The BBC Philharmonic is supported by Salford City Council, enabling the orchestra to build active links in the local area through a busy learning and community programme.

Juanjo Mena is Chief Conductor of the BBC Philharmonic. Hailing from the Basque region of Spain he has brought his passion for large-scale choral works and the music of his home country to the orchestra since taking up the post in 2011 and his performances have received rave reviews: “Juanjo Mena conducted his BBC Philharmonic cohorts as if the orchestra was his dance partner, jigging and gliding like the life and soul of the party” The Artsdesk (Prom 17: Beethoven Symphony No.7, 25 July 2013). “Mena’s handling of the work’s grand arc from dawn to dusk was majestic” The Guardian (An Alpine Symphony, 23 Jan 2014, The Bridgewater Hall).

John Storgårds is Principal Guest Conductor and has brought a programme of Scandinavian works to the orchestra’s repertoire; they have recorded the complete Sibelius symphony cycle for Chandos Records, to be released in Spring 2014. The distinguished Austrian composer HK ‘Nali’ Gruber is Composer/Conductor and led the orchestra in a highly prestigious residency at the Vienna Konzerthaus in 2013. Former Chief Conductor Gianandrea Noseda is now Conductor Laureate, spending up to four weeks each season with the orchestra.

The BBC Philharmonic has its roots in the city of Manchester, since it’s foundation in 1934 as the BBC Northern Orchestra. In 1982, soon after moving to the BBC’s new building on Oxford Road in Manchester, it changed its name to the BBC Philharmonic. In 2011 the BBC moved many of its major departments to a new centre at Salford Quays. The BBC Philharmonic was the first to move to the new site, where it has a state-of-the-art acoustically-engineered orchestral studio.

To celebrate the move, the orchestra held a 17-day festival, BBC Philharmonic Presents, which created a series of unique collaborations broadcast across the range of the BBC’s national radio stations. In 2012 the series was expanded to venues across the north of England, bringing orchestral music to an even wider audience. Collaborations have included dubstep artists Nero for BBC Radios 1 & 1Xtra, Kermode & Mayo’s Film Review for Radio 5 live, Sunday Worship for Radio 4, Richard Hawley in Sheffield for BBC Radio 6 Music, the Guy Barker Jazz Orchestra in Blackpool for Radio 3 and traditional Pakistani musicians for Asian Network in Bradford.

As an internationally-renowned orchestra, the BBC Philharmonic regularly tours in Europe and Asia. In 2011 the orchestra’s tour of Japan was cut short when the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami hit the country; last year they returned to complete the tour dates that were cancelled. In 2014 the orchestra will be undertaking tours in Europe (Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Hungary) and Spain.

The BBC Philharmonic has made over 200 recordings with Chandos Records and sold around 900,000 albums. Recent releases have received excellent reviews: “There is a whole spectrum of influences at work on Casella, but they are subsumed into a personal, dynamic style that the BBC Philharmonic conveys with sinew and spirit.” (The Telegraph, Casella: Orchestral Works CHAN 10768) and “…a concentrated musicianship where energy and refinement blend in ideal proportions.” (Gramophone Magazine, Falla CHAN 10694).

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