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BBC Philharmonic

BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
The BBC Philharmonic Logo
Founded 1922 (1922)
Location Manchester, United Kingdom
Principal conductor Juanjo Mena
Website /philharmonic/

The BBC Philharmonic is a national British broadcasting symphony orchestra and is one of five radio orchestras maintained by the British Broadcasting Corporation and is a department of the BBC North Group division based at MediaCityUK, England, the orchestra's primary concert venue is the Bridgewater Hall, Manchester.


  • History 1
  • Performances 2
  • Principal conductors 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


The 2ZY Orchestra was formed in 1922 for a Manchester radio station of the same name. It gave the first broadcast performances of many famous English works, including Elgar's Dream of Gerontius and Enigma Variations and Holst's The Planets. The orchestra was part-funded by the British Broadcasting Company (precursor of the BBC), and renamed the Northern Wireless Orchestra in 1926.

When the BBC Symphony Orchestra was established in London in 1930, the new Corporation cut its regional orchestras' funding. The Northern Wireless Orchestra was downsized to just nine players, and renamed the Northern Studio Orchestra.

Three years later, however, the BBC reversed its decision and maintained a full orchestra again - this time called the BBC Northern Symphony Orchestra. This was the beginning of the orchestra in its present form. It rehearsed and broadcast from the Milton Hall, Deansgate, Manchester.

The orchestra played at its first Prom in 1961, and enjoyed popularity with performances at the Free Trade Hall, a venue it shared with the Hallé.

In 1982, the orchestra received a vote of confidence from the BBC, who expanded the orchestra and changed its name to the BBC Philharmonic. The name conveyed the message that the ensemble was no longer a Northern orchestra - it was an orchestra based in the North. A musician's joke at the time referred to it as the BBC Enharmonic, as it had changed its name but sounded the same.

  • Official site
  • Discography at Chandos
  • Discography at Naxos

External links

  1. ^ David Ward (2006-10-11). "Noseda becomes chief conductor of BBC Philharmonic". The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-07-08. 
  2. ^ "Juanjo Mena set to succeed Gianandrea Noseda in 2011" (Press release). BBC Philharmonic. 5 July 2010. Retrieved 2010-07-08. 
  3. ^ "New Principal Guest Conductor Announced: John Storgårds to succeed Vassily Sinaisky in 2012" (Press release). BBC Philharmonic. 2 March 2011. Retrieved 2011-03-19. 
  4. ^ Andrew Clements (2010-02-27). "This week's music previews". The Guardian. Retrieved 2011-03-19. 
  5. ^ "Nero's Dubstep Symphony". Retrieved 24 December 2012. 
  6. ^ "The xx Symphony". Retrieved 24 December 2012. 


Principal conductors

The BBC Philharmonic has made over 150 recordings, and for the most part, it has steered clear of orchestral 'warhorses'. Series of British Stokowski's Bach transcriptions have been featured, all on the Chandos label.

Anecdotally, the 'BBC Phil' is known as the most adventurous of the BBC orchestras, and has a younger demographic of players. It has always embraced contemporary composers, working with Copland, Walton and Berio amongst others. Whilst not having a formal "composer in residence", since 1991, the orchestra has appointed major composers to collaborate in programs of contemporary music, including Peter Maxwell Davies, James MacMillan, and HK Gruber.[4] In more recent years, the orchestra has collaborated with BBC Radio One in producing orchestral performance with modern artists, including symphonies with bands Nero and The xx.[5][6]

Like all BBC performing groups, the orchestra contributes to the schedule of Radio 3, recording at Studio 7 of New Broadcasting House on Oxford Road, Manchester. Since 1996, most of the orchestra's live performances have been at the city's Bridgewater Hall, although it frequently tours the UK and internationally.


Since September 2007, the orchestra has been in a major partnership with Salford City Council, enabling the Orchestra to build active links with Salford and its communities. In 2011, the BBC Philharmonic moved to their new dedicated studio at Media City, Salford Quays, along with a number of other BBC departments that made the move.


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