Whilst remaining firmly rooted in the great European symphonic tradition, the Luxembourg Philharmonic Orchestra follows a unique path. From the outset, its history was linked to that of radio. In 1996, changes in the world of radio led to the orchestra being taken over by the Luxembourg government, which incorporated it in a foundation set up specifically for this purpose, called the Fondation Henri Pensis after the first principal conductor. This enables the orchestra to fulfil its public role and distinguish itself in the European music world by the impressive range of its activities and the quality of its performances. Henri Pensis, Louis de Froment, Leopold Hager, David Shallon and Bramwell Tovey have been music directors of the orchestra in its 75-year long existence. Emmanuel Krivine is the music director and chief conductor since September 2006.
The OPL is the resident orchestra at the Luxembourg Philharmonie. With some 100 musicians, it embarks upon prestigious concert cycles each season, fulfilling its great artistic potential, with several 1000 subscribers per season. Other programmes are just as important. With flexibility and adaptability, the orchestra is in tune with the times and plays opera at the Grand Théâtre in Luxembourg, at "Live Cinema" shows and concerts for young people and families. The orchestra has its own music teaching studio, "login:music", which organises school, children’s and family concerts as well as workshops at which young people can make their own music and explore the symphonic repertoire by playing along. Mini-concerts in schools and hospitals and projects with secondary schools, where whole classes are involved in preparing for the orchestra’s subscription concerts, complete the range of activities.
The prestige of the Luxembourg Philharmonic Orchestra is indicated by the major musicians with whom it is constantly collaborating. In the 2009/10 season these include amongst others Nicolas Angelich, Gautier Capuçon, Michael Gielen, Hans Graf, Leopold Hager, Viviane Hagner, Gary Hoffman, Radu Lupu, Sandrine Piau, Vadim Repim.Vassily Sinaisky, Marc Soustrot, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Lars Vogt and Hugh Wolff.
The OPL is also highly active outside Luxembourg. In Europe its tours have taken it to Vienna (Musikverein), Berlin (Philharmonic Concert Hall), Munich (Gasteig), Frankfurt (Old Opera House), Salzburg (Festival Opera House), Paris (Salle Pleyel, Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Théâtre du Châtelet, Cité de la Musique), Brussels (Palais des Beaux-Arts), Amsterdam (Concertgebouw), London (Barbican), Moscow (Tchaikovsky Conservatory), Athens (Megaron), Rome (Sala Santa Cecilia), Naples (Teatro San Carlo), Prague (Rudolfinum) and Rome (Sala Santa Cecilia).
In 2003, a major Asian tour took the orchestra to Macao, China and South Korea and in October 2004 it embarked upon its first tour of the United States. Recent major tours have taken the orchestra to Spain, Switzerland, France, Austria and Italy.
A major tour of Britain and Ireland as well as trips to Monte-Carlo and Ravello in Italy are scheduled for 2009/10. Due to the transmission of all of its concerts on Radio 100.7 and via the network of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), the OPL’s audience often extends far beyond the boundaries of the Grand Duchy.
The orchestra has released over thirty CDs with the French label Timpani. These include the complete orchestral works and chamber music of Maurice Ohana, a recording of the complete orchestral works of lannis Xenakis and (in many cases as premiere recordings) works by Ernest Bloch, Lili Boulanger, Jean Cras, Claude Debussy, Philippe Gaubert, Arthur Honegger, Klaus Huber, Ivo Malec, Bohuslav Martinu, Gabriel Pierné, Francis Poulenc, Albéric Magnard, Albert Roussel, Vincent d’Indy, Joseph-Guy Ropartz, Sylvano Bussotti, Hugues Dufourt and Toshio Hosokawa. These recordings have been awarded over 90 international prizes including the "Cannes Classical Award" by MIDEM at Cannes 2002 for Gabriel Pierné’s "Cydalise et le chèvre-pied" as "Record of the Year" and the German Schallplattenpreis for Joseph-Guy Ropartz’s opera "Le Pays". Jean Cras’ opera "Polyphème" (conducted by Bramwell Tovey), which has been awarded severalprizes was awarded the "Orphée d’Or" in Paris.
The Luxembourg Philharmonic Orchestra is supported financially by the Ministry of Culture as well as the City of Luxembourg.
© Christian Aschmann