The Philharmonia Orchestra, based in London’s Royal Festival Hall, is one of the world’s great orchestras, widely acknowledged for its pioneering approach to the role of an orchestra in the 21st century.
The Philharmonia, founded in 1945 by Walter Legge (a classical music record producer for EMI) performs more than 160 concerts a year, as well as recording music for films, video games and commercial audio releases. It has been a self-governing orchestra since 1964 and is owned by its 80 members.
Alongside performing in its London home the Orchestra performs at UK residencies and across the world. It leads the field in the quality of playing, innovative work with music education, audience development and the use of new technology to reach a global audience.
Central to the Philharmonia and Esa-Pekka Salonen’s work in London, the UK and internationally are their digital projects, all of which are designed to communicate the thrill of the experience of a live orchestra to audiences outside the concert hall. In September 2016, in partnership with Southbank Centre, the Orchestra presented The Virtual Orchestra, a free two-week series in the public spaces of Royal Festival Hall, culminating with a specially programmed concert at the venue. The project featured the first major Virtual Reality presentation from a UK symphony orchestra, and a giant audio-visual installation of Holst’s The Planets entitled Universe of Sound.
Millions of people since 1945 have enjoyed their first experience of classical music through a Philharmonia recording, and today audiences engage with the Orchestra through video games, film scores and its award-winning portfolio of videos and documentary films. An app, The Orchestra for iPad, released in December 2012, has sold tens of thousands of copies.
The Philharmonia has a variety of programs for education and emerging artists, which reaches tens of thousands of people every year. Recent projects include intergenerational music making, collaborative schools projects, the Composers Academy and the Philharmonia Instrumental Fellowship Programme – an enhanced offer for young musicians, supporting instrumentalists seeking an orchestral career and connecting them to the wider life of the Philharmonia and the expertise within its membership.
The Philharmonia’s first ever concert was conducted by Sir Thomas Beecham for a fee of one cigar.
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