Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra is one of the oldest concert-giving organisations in the world, and the second oldest in Britain. The origins of its concert series date back to the formation of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Society, which administers it, in 1840. The Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, as it was called then, acquired the title ‘Royal’ in 1957. In 1989 the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Society and Orchestra received an Honorary Fellowship from the Liverpool John Moores University and in 1991 were the first organisations to be granted the freedom of the City of Liverpool. A further honour of Meritorious Service was granted by the City of Liverpool in 1997.
In September 2006, Vasily Petrenko became Principal Conductor of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. He is the youngest person and the first Russian to have held this appointment in the Phil’s 165-year old history.
A distinguished list of previous Principal Conductors includes Max Bruch, Sir Charles Hallé, Sir Henry Wood, Sir Malcolm Sargent, Sir John Pritchard, Sir Charles Groves, Walter Weller, David Atherton, Marek Janowski, Libor Pešek KBE, Petr Altrichter and Gerard Schwarz.
The RLPO made its first tour abroad in 1966 and has since given concerts in the USA and Far East, as well as throughout Europe. In 1993 the RLPO became the first non-Czech orchestra to have the honour of performing the opening concerts at the Prague Spring Festival, and has returned to Prague several times, most recently in September 2005. In 2006, the Orchestra has toured Spain and played a gala concert in Malta.
The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, committed to the encouragement of today’s composers, has commissioned new works from many leading contemporary composers. Among the British composers it has worked with are Graham Fitkin, Django Bates and David Horne (Composer in Association 2000–2002). The Phil’s new music group, Ensemble 10/10 focuses on contemporary and chamber music. Vladimir Ashkenazy and Sir Simon Rattle are the Phil’s Artist Laureates 2008.
The RLPO’s extensive discography includes the complete symphonies of Beethoven (with Sir Charles Mackerras), Nielsen (Douglas Bostock), Vaughan Williams (Vernon Handley) and William Alwyn (David Lloyd-Jones), and music by Britten, Dvorak, Mahler, Rachmaninov, Smetana, Strauss and Suk. Several recordings also feature the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Choir. The Orchestra enjoys working with various recording companies including Naxos, Nimbus and Universal. In 1998 the Orchestra launched its own recording label, RLPO Live, which features recordings made in Liverpool Philharmonic Hall. New releases are released through an association with Avie Records.
In November 2001 the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Classic FM, the UK’s leading classical music radio station, announced a ground-breaking partnership which makes the Liverpool Phil Classic FM’s Orchestra in North West England. This relationship has been extended to 2009 and will continue to raise the profile of the orchestra in the city of Liverpool and throughout the UK and build new audiences for classical music in the run-up to European Capital of Culture 2008.
Over 40,000 people each year participate in the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic’s outreach programmes, which have been widely acclaimed locally, regionally, and nationally. Musicians from the Orchestra work extensively in schools and in the community on a range of education projects including the annual schools’ concerts and the Phil’s five-year Music for Life residency in inner city Liverpool.