With the founding of the LUCERNE FESTIVAL ORCHESTRA, which was introduced to the public in August 2003, the conductor Claudio Abbado and the Festival’s Executive and Artistic Director Michael Haefliger established a link with the moment in which the Festival itself was born in Lucerne. It was with the legendary "Concert de Gala" in 1938 that Arturo Toscanini assembled the celebrated virtuosos of his time into a unique orchestra of elite musicians. With this as a model, internationally acclaimed principals, chamber musicians, and music teachers join together every summer around a core of players from the ranks of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra to form a worldclass ensemble. Up until his death in January 2014, Claudio Abbado served as artistic director of this “orchestra of friends,” as he himself called it. Starting in 2016 Riccardo Chailly takes on the role of Music Director. He will launch his tenure with a performance of Gustav Mahler’s Eighth Symphony, the “Symphony of a Thousand”: this will complete the LFO’s Mahler cycle, which Abbado himself was not able to finish. Many of the LFO’s performances over the past decade have been broadcast on television and subsequently released on DVD, garnering such distinctions as the Diapason d’Or, the BBC Music Magazine Award, and the International Classical Music Award. Their most recent release is a live recording of the opening concert of the 2014 Summer Festival in Lucerne and consisting of works by Johannes Brahms. The LUCERNE FESTIVAL ORCHESTRA has previously toured to Rome, Vienna, Madrid, and Paris; to Baden-Baden, Hamburg, London, and New York; and to Ferrara, Moscow, Tokyo, and Beijing. In the fall of 2015 they will undertake a major European tour with Andris Nelsons.
Since its first performances in the summer of 2003 the LUCERNE FESTIVAL ORCHESTRA has been a regular feature of LUCERNE FESTIVAL; most recently the LFO performed four concerts here in August 2015, which were led by Bernard Haitink and Andris Nelsons and included works by Joseph Haydn and Gustav Mahler.