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Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

About the orchestra

About the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Founded by Sir Thomas Beecham in 1932, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) is a British symphony orchestra that primarily produces and performs classical masterpieces. In 2004, the RPO settled into its first permanent London base at Cadogan Hall in Chelsea. 

Complementing their concert series at Cadogan Hall, the RPO performs a series of annual concerts at Southbank Centre's Royal Festival Hall, including the works of Beethoven, Mozart, and Tchaikovsky, alongside musical theatre and film music programmes in the Royal Albert Hall (such as blockbuster performances of the Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and Indiana Jones soundtracks).

In 1986, the collective founded RPO Records - claimed to be “the world’s first record label to be owned by a symphony orchestra” - ranging from core symphonic repertoire and Tchaikovsky ballet scores to film music by various composers, light music by Burt Bacharach and Richard Rodgers, as well as an album called ‘Symphonic Rock’ featuring classic rock anthems and pop tracks with an orchestral twist.

The RPO has also performed in venues across the UK as part of its regional touring programme, alongside touring overseas in Azerbaijan, Canada, China, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, Spain, Turkey, and the US since 2010. In 2019, the Royal Albert Hall announced the RPO as its official associate orchestra, with an initial contract of 5 years. 

In November 2022, the RPO performed Igor Stravinsky’s ‘The Rite of Spring’, ‘The Firebird’, and ‘Petrushka’, which were recorded live at the BBC Television Centre. The following year, select members from the orchestra played at the coronation of Charles III and Camilla.

RPO On Air Neon Sign

Who are the leading conductors in the RPO?

The RPO has a team of titled conductors, including Vasily Petrenko (Music Director), Pinchas Zukerman (Principal Guest Conductor), Alexander Shelley (Principal Associate Conductor) and Grzegorz Nowak (Permanent Associate Conductor). 

What is the difference between a chamber orchestra and a philharmonic orchestra?

Historically, a chamber usually means a reduced or smaller orchestra, often without wind/brass instruments. Philharmonic is used almost interchangeably with symphonies and features a fuller orchestra with wind, brass, and percussion.

How many concerts does the RPO play each year?

Performing approximately 200 concerts each season and with a worldwide audience of more than half a million people, the RPO embraces a broad repertoire that reaches the most diverse audience of any British symphony orchestra. 

What film & TV scores have the RPO recorded?

The RPO has recorded film scores, including The Red Shoes, The Tales of Hoffmann, Richard III, The Bridge on the River Kwai, and The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes. The orchestra also rerecorded symphonic suites from Star Trek: The Original Series episodes with Tony Bremner. These were released in 1985 under Label ‘X’ in two volumes.

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra tour dates & tickets

To get information on upcoming Royal Philharmonic Orchestra tour dates and concert tickets, you can visit the official website.

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