The Orchestre du Capitole de Toulouse is the result of a merger in the 1960s between the Orchestre du Capitole (then in charge of operas and ballets produced by the Théâtre du Capitole) and the Orchestre Symphonique de Toulouse-Pyrénées. It rapidly acquired international status thanks to the dedicated work of Michel Plasson, who managed it during 35 years (from 1968 to 2003) and is now its honorary conductor.
t became the Orchestre national du Capitole de Toulouse in 1981 and now boasts 125 musicians, having boldly entered the 21st century in 2005 with the arrival of Tugan Sokhiev, first as principal guest conductor and musical advisor, then as musical director as from 2008.
In ten years, Tugan Sokhiev has breathed incredible energy into this Toulouse-based group of musicians, undertaking a great number of tours worldwide (Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Scandinavia, Poland, China, Russia, Japan, Latin America…), regularly giving concerts in such prestigious locations as the Musikverein in Vienna, the Berlin Philharmonic and the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, as well as in Paris (Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Salle Pleyel, Philharmonie).
In addition to a prolific symphonic season at the historic Halle aux Grains, and the operatic and choreographic season of the Théâtre du Capitole, the Orchestre national du Capitole is regularly invited to a number of international festivals, such as the international George Enesco festival in Bucharest, the Quincena Musical festival in San Sebastian, the Chorégies d’Orange ("Aida" by Verdi and two concerts in 2011, "Requiem" by Verdi in 2016), the Festival de Radio France et Montpellier (2013, 2016), and the Festival de Pâques d’Aix-en-Provence (2015). In 2011, the ONCT performed "Betrothal in a Monastery" by Prokofiev at the Opéra Comique, co-produced by the Théâtre du Capitole.
Tugan Sokhiev has also developed a new audiovisual activity aimed at a wider range of public. The Orchestre national du Capitole de Toulouse thus recently took part in programmes such as "Les Prodiges font leur show" on France 2, the "Victoires de la musique classique" on France 3, "Musiques en fête" live from the theatre in Orange on France Musique and France 3. This ambitious audiovisual broadcasting policy finds its concrete expression in regular partnerships with France Télévisions, France Musique, Radio Classique, Arte Concert, Mezzo, Medici.tv, etc.
After a long and fruitful collaboration with EMI Classics with Michel Plasson as the conductor (some sixty titles available, the best part of the catalogue being devoted to 19th and 20th century French music, including a number of recordings that have since become major references within the repertoire), the Orchestre national du Capitole de Toulouse and Tugan Sokhiev are now developing new record projects with Naïve.
Because it is very much rooted in modern-day music, the Orchestre national du Capitole de Toulouse is as enthusiastic about the music in the repertoire as it is about current music. In 2012 for example, it performed the Concerto for two pianos by Bruno Mantovani (associate composer with the ONCT at the time), co-commissioned by the Orchestre national du Capitole and Porto’s Casa da Música. In 2014, the ONCT created the Oboe Concerto by Benjamin Attahir with its dedicatee Olivier Stankiewicz as the soloist (oboe solo with the ONCT), and put on the French premiere of Percussion Concerto No. 2 by James MacMillan. More recently, the ONCT put on two new world creations conducted by Tugan Sokhiev: Prelude by David Azagra and Nach(t)spiel by composer Benjamin Attahir, from which the ONCT created Samaa Sawti Zaman in 2016/2017, a new piece of music intended as a tribute to Pierre Boulez. Works have also been commissioned from composers such as Bruno Mantovani and Pascal Dusapin for future seasons.
This rooting in contemporary musical life goes hand in hand with numerous educational activities for younger members of the public, with the conductor Christophe Mangou in particular, who has been conducting educational concerts since 2012 (with, among other highlights, the creation of Éva pas à pas by Sylvain Griotto, co-commissioned by the ONCT and the Orchestre Regional Avignon-Provence), and the training of professional musicians thanks to the creation in 2016 of an international academy for orchestra conductors conducted by Tugan Sokhiev in person.