The Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra was founded by Albert van Raalte in 1945. In the ensuing years, several distinguished conductors have stood at the orchestra’s helm: Paul van Kempen, Bernard Haitink, Willem van Otterloo, Jean Fournet, Hans Vonk, Sergiu Comissiona, Edo de Waart and Jaap van Zweden.
Markus Stenz was appointed Principal Conductor and Artistic Director in September 2012. As off the 2011-2012 season the American conductor James Gaffigan is principal guest conductor.
The Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra worked with the world’s foremost guest conductors, including Leopold Stokowsky, Kirill Kondrashin, Antál Dorati, Riccardo Muti, Kurt Masur, Mariss Jansons, Michael Tilson Thomas, Gennady Rozhdestvensky and Valery Gergiev.
The renowned conductor Bernard Haitink has accepted a position as patron offered to him by the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra. Bernard Haitink started his impressive career in 1954 with the Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, conducting his first concert before an audience on 19 July of that year. Later (in 1957) he was appointed chief conductor of the Radio Philharmonic Orchestra. In 2014 that particular concert will have taken place 60 years ago. Bernard Haitink and the Radio Philharmonic Orchestra will observe this special 60th anniversary in a way yet to be announced.
As one of the flagship orchestras for the Dutch Broadcasting Authority, the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic occupies a prominent place in two series at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, the Saturday Matinee and the Sunday Morning Concerts as well as the Friday Vredenburg series in Utrecht. All concerts are broadcast live on the Dutch national station, Radio 4 and through the international European Broadcasting Union connection.
A leading light on the Dutch musical firmament, the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra guarantees adventurous symphonic programming, high quality performance and a plethora of concertante opera performances. World premieres and Dutch premieres of works by among others Koechlin, Martin, Franssens, Koolmees, Padding, Francesconi, Janácek, De Raaff, Oetsvolskaja, Vriend and Rijnvos were praised by critics and audience.
The orchestra’s discography is impressive and includes the complete Mahler Symphonies and orchestral works by Rachmaninoff under the direction of Edo de Waart. Ongoing recording projects include a Bruckner-cycle under the direction of Jaap van Zweden (Exton label) and the complete Shostakovich symphonies led by the British conductor Mark Wigglesworth (Bis label). Wagner’s Lohengrin, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg and Parsifal, performed by the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, the Netherlands Radio Choir and vocal soloists under the direction of Jaap van Zweden, were recorded for QuattroLive and Challenge Records and met with great critical acclaim. QuattroLive is the cd label of Radio 4, the Netherlands Broadcasting Music Center, Radio Netherlands Worldwide and the broadcasters NTR, AVRO and TROS.
The orchestra has garnered many prizes for releases of compositions by contemporary composers, including Jonathan Harvey, Klas Torstensson and Jan van Vlijmen.
The Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra appeared at festivals in Edinburgh, Brussels and Strasbourg, as well as at Singapore's Sun Festival. Recently the orchestra undertook tours to Great Britain, Germany and Austria and performed in the BBC Proms.
Photo: Simon van Boxtel