On 5 October 2016 the State Academic Symphony Orchestra of Russia “Evgeny Svetlanov", one of the country’s oldest symphonic ensembles, celebrated its 80th anniversary. The State Orchestra debut performance took place eight decades ago, on 5 October 1936, at the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory.
During the years, the orchestra has been led by outstanding musicians such as Alexander Gauk (1936-1941), Natan Rakhlin (1941-1945), Konstantin Ivanov (1945-1965), and Evgeny Svetlanov (1965-2000). On 27 October 2005 the State Academic Symphony Orchestra was officialy named after E.F. Svetlanov. From 2000 to 2002 the orchestra was headed by Vasily Sinaisky, and from 2002 to 2011 by Mark Gorenstein.
On 24 October 2011 Vladimir Jurowski, a world-renowned conductor collaborating with many leading opera companies and orchestras, was appointed as the Artistic Director of the State Orchestra. Starting with season 2016/2017 Vasily Petrenko is the Principal Guest Conductor of the orchestra.
The orchestra has performed at the most prestigious venues, such as the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory, Tchaikovsky Concert Hall, and the State Kremlin Palace (Moscow), Carnegie Hall and Avery Fisher Hall (New York), the Kennedy Center (Washington, DC), Musikverein (Vienna), the Royal Albert Hall (London), Salle Pleyel (Paris), Teatro Colon (Buenos Aires), and Suntory Hall (Tokyo). In 2013 the orchestra had a performance at the Moscow Red Square for the first time.
The orchestra was conducted by H.Abendroth, E.Ansermet, L.Blech, N.Golovanov, A.Jansons, O.Klemperer, K.Kondrashin, L.Maazel, N.Malko, I.Markevitch, E.Mravinsky, C.Munch, M.Rostropovich, K.Sanderling, S.Sondeckis, I.Stravinsky, A.Boreiko, C.Dutoit, V.Gergiev, M.Jurowski, A.Lazarev, I.Marin, K.Masur, T. Mikkelsen, V.Petrenko, G.Rinkevicius, G.Rozhdestvensky, A.Sladkovsky, L.Slatkin, Y.Temirkanov, A.Vedernikov, and other great musicians.
Among the outstanding soloists who have performed with the orchestra are singers I.Arkhipova, S.Lemeshev, E.Obraztsova, G.Vishnevskaya, M.Caballe, P.Domingo, M.Guleghina, D.Hvorostovsky, and J.Kaufmann; pianists V.Cliburn, E.Gilels, H.Neuhaus, N.Petrov, S.Richter, M.Yudina, V.Afanassiev, B.Berezovsky, E.Kissin, N.Lugansky, D.Matsuev, and G.Sokolov; violinists L.Kogan, Y.Menuhin, D.Oistrakh, V.Pikayzen, V.Repin, V.Spivakov, V.Tretyakov, and M.Vengerov; violist Y.Bashmet; cellists M.Rostropovich, N.Gutman, A.Kniazev, and A.Rudin. Recently, this roster was expanded to add singers W.Meier, A.Netrebko, H.Gerzmava, A.Pendatchanska, I.Abdrazakov, D.Korchak, and V.Ladiuk, R.Pape; pianists M.Uchida and R.Buchbinder; violinists L.Kavakos, P.Kopachinskaja, J.Fischer, D.Hope, and N.Znaider. A lot of attention is also devoted to collaboration with young musicians such as conductors S.Kochanovsky, A.Poga, M.Stravinsky, and P.Chizhevsky; pianists L.Debargue, P.Kopachevsky, J.Lisiecki, D.Masleev, and A.Romanovsky; violinists A.Bayeva, A.Pritchin, V.Sokolov, and P.Milyukov; and cellist A.Ramm to name a few.
Ever since its first tour abroad in 1956 the orchestra regularly represents Russian culture in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Mexico, New Zealand, Poland, South Korea, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, the US, and many other countries.
The orchestra’s discography includes hundreds of vinyl records and CDs released by leading Russian and foreign labels such as Melodiya, Bomba-Piter, EMI Classics, BMG, Deutsche Grammophon, Naxos, Chandos, Musikproduktion Dabringhaus und Grimm, Toccata Classics, Fancymusic, and others. The special place in this list belongs to the Anthology of the Russian Symphonic Music encompassing audio recordings of Russian composers from M.Glinka to I.Stravinsky, a Svetlanov’s project, to which he dedicated many years. Mezzo, Rossiya 1, and Kultura television companies, digital channel Medici.tv as well as Radio “Orpheus” also made recordings of a number of the ensemble’s concerts.
Lately the orchestra has performed at the Grafenegg Festival (Austria), Kissinger Sommer in Bad Kissingen (Germany), The Arts’ Square in Saint Petersburg, the VI Mstislav Rostropovich Festival in Moscow, the III Symphonic Forum of Russia in Yekaterinburg, Platonov art festival in Voronezh. The orchestra performed world premieres of works by A.Vustin, S.Slonimskiy, A.Bagatov, A.Semyonov, J.Sherling, and Russian premieres of works by L. v. Beethoven – G.Mahler, V.Silvestrov, R.Schedrin, J.Taverner, A.Skryabin – A.Nemtin, C.Orff, G.Gladkov, V.Tarnopolskiy, G.A.Bontempi. Moreover, the ensemble took part in the XV International Tchaikovsky Competition and the I International competition for young pianists Grand Piano Competition. To close the season 2015/2016 the orchestra carried out the fourth annual educational concert cycle “Vladimir Jurowski conducts and narrates”.
Starting in January 2016, the orchestra has been working on a special project, which is aimed on supporting professional composing, that involves close collaboration with modern Russian authors. Aleksander Vustin is the first composer in residence of the orchestra.
The orchestra was granted the honorary title “academic” for the exceptional creative achievements in 1972 and received the Order of the Red Banner of Labour in 1986. In 2006 and 2011 the ensemble was rewarded with Presidential commendations.