The BBC Symphony Orchestra is one of the UK's leading orchestras. Founded by Adrian Boult in 1930 it has played a central role at the heart of British musical life for over 70 years and, as the flagship orchestra of the BBC is the backbone of the BBC Proms, making at least a dozen appearances each year, including the First and Last Nights.
The BBC Symphony Orchestra has a strong commitment to 20th century and contemporary music and since its foundation has given the premieres of over 1,000 works by composers such as Bartók, Britten, Hindemith, Holst, Stravinsky, Shostakovich and Vaughan Williams.
Each year it continues to give the world premieres of BBC commissions by many of today's leading composers, including Sally Beamish, Elliott Carter, H K Gruber, Robin Holloway, Magnus Lindberg, James MacMillan, Anthony Payne, Kaija Saariaho, David Sawer and Mark-Anthony Turnage, who was the BBC SO's Associate Composer from 2000-2003. In addition to this, each season it introduces numerous new works to UK audiences for the first time.
The BBC Symphony Orchestra is Associate Orchestra of the Barbican in London and performs an annual season of up to 25 concerts, including a January Composer Weekend of events focusing upon a single composer from the 20th or 21st century.
Recent seasons have seen the BBC SO embark upon a series of critically-acclaimed performances of opera in concert including Wagner's Tristan und Isolde, Kaija Saariaho's L'amour de loin, Ligeti's Le Grand Macabre, Barber's Vanessa and this season Sir Harrison Birtwistle's The Second Mrs Kong, described in The Guardian as 'a great, utterly memorable event;.
Jirí Belohlávek became Chief Conductor Designate at the beginning of this year's Proms and David Robertson takes over from Jukka-Pekka Saraste as Principal Guest Conductor in October. Sir Andrew Davis continues as conductor Laureate and all three conductors will be fully inclolved in the new 2005-2006 season of concerts. The BBC SO also enjoys a close relationship with the American composer and conductor John Adams who became the BBC SO's Artist in Association in 2003.
All concerts are broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and a number are televised, giving the BBC Symphony Orchestra the highest broadcast profile of any UK orchestra. Central to the orchestra's life are studio recordings for BBC Radio 3, some of which are free for the public to attend. The BBC SO also records for several commercial labels both in the UK and abroad.
The BBC Symphony Orchestra performs at a number of national and international music festivals and undertakes regular major overseas tours, including a recent South American tour.
Community and outreach work involves the orchestra in a number of adventurous projects working with schools and members of the local community in the Maida Vale and Hammersmith and Fulham areas.
Recent projects have included a five-day festival of Gamelan music and culture in association with RFH Education and the South Bank Gamelan players, Berio Fusion in which secondary school pupils explored the possibilities for using technology in music-making, a BBC Proms Out and About concert at Hammersmith Town Hall, a project in South America and Mrs Kong's in the Building, a multi-media event which was part of the South Bank Centre's Harrison Birtwistle festival in November 2004.