One of the world’s oldest orchestras, the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra dates back to 1765 and celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2015. Edvard Grieg had a close relationship with the Orchestra, serving as its artistic director during the years 1880 – 82. The one-hundred-and-one strong orchestra has status of Norwegian national orchestra. Edward Gardner, the acclaimed Music Director of English National Opera, was appointed Chief Conductor for a three year tenure from October 2015, a contract which is now extended until 2021. The Orchestra enjoys a high international standing through recordings, extensive touring and international commissions.
During the last few seasons the orchestra has played in the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, at the BBC Proms in the Royal Albert Hall, in the Wiener Musikverein and Konzerthaus, in Carnegie Hall, New York, and in the Philharmonie, Berlin. In 2015 the Orchestra re-visited Concertgebouw, the BBC Proms and toured Germany, Sweden, and Ireland. The orchestra and Edward Gardner toured Germany in 2016, England and the Concertgebouw in the spring 2017 and will appear at the Edinburgh International Festival in August 2017.
The orchestra established its own Digital Concert Hall in 2015 which offers a fine selection of works performed by the orchestra and a range of conductors and soloists. A youth symphony orchestra, Bergen Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, is also established, and gives four to six concerts per year.
The Orchestra has an active recording schedule, at the moment releasing four CDs every year. Critics worldwide applaude the energetic playing style and the full-bodied string sound. Recent and ongoing recording projects include a series of orchestral works by Janáček, Messiaen’s Turangalîla-Symphony, ballets by Stravinsky, and the complete symphonies, ballet suites, concertos by Sergej Prokofiev and the complete orchestral music of Edvard Grieg. Enjoying long-standing artistic partnerships with some of the finest musicians in the world, the Orchestra has recorded with Leif Ove Andsnes, Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, James Ehnes, Gerald Finley, Stuart Skelton, Alban Gerhardt, Vadim Gluzman, Stephen Hough, Freddy Kempf, Truls Mørk, Steven Osborne, and Lawrence Power, among others.
The orchestra has recorded Tchaikovsky’s three great ballets and two critically acclaimed series of works by Johan Halvorsen and Johan Svendsen with Neeme Järvi, orchestral works by Rimsky-Korsakov with Dmitri Kitayenko, and with Sir Andrew Davis the Orchestra has recorded music by Berlioz, Delius, Elgar, Sibelius and Vaughan Williams.
The first collaboration on disc between Edward Gardner and the Orchestra was a recording of orchestral realisations by Luciano Berio, which was released in 2011. A critically acclaimed series devoted to orchestral works by Janáček is completed, including a Grammy-nominated recording of his Glagolitic Mass, and Schoenberg’s Gurrelieder was released in 2016. In 2017 a cd with songs by Sibelius was released with Gerald Finley as soloist.