Patron: HRH The former Prince of Wales
Music Director: Vasily Petrenko
The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra’s (RPO) mission to enrich lives through orchestral experiences that are uncompromising in their excellence and inclusive in their appeal, places it at the forefront of music-making in the UK and internationally. Typically performing approximately 200 concerts a year and with a worldwide live and online audience of more than 60 million people, the Orchestra is proud to embrace a broad repertoire and reach a diverse audience. Whilst artistic integrity remains paramount, the RPO is unafraid to push boundaries and is equally at home recording video game, film and television soundtracks and working with pop stars, as it is touring the world performing the great symphonic repertoire.
Throughout its history, the RPO has attracted and collaborated with the most inspiring artists and in August 2021, the Orchestra was thrilled to welcome Vasily Petrenko as its new Music Director. A landmark appointment in the RPO’s history, Vasily’s opening two seasons with the RPO have been lauded by audiences and critics alike. Highlights included a star-studded gala concert to mark the RPO’s 75th Anniversary (with soloists Sheku Kanneh-Mason MBE and Sir Bryn Terfel), all three of Mahler’s epic Choral Symphonies at the Royal Albert Hall, performances at the BBC Proms and Edinburgh International Festival, and major tours to the USA, Japan, Germany, Spain and a host of prestigious European festivals.
The RPO is recognised as the UK’s most in-demand orchestra, an accolade that would have pleased Sir Thomas Beecham, who founded the Orchestra in 1946. As well as a busy schedule of national and international performances, the Orchestra enjoys an annual season of concerts in London’s Royal Albert Hall (where the RPO is Associate Orchestra), the Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall and Cadogan Hall, where it is celebrating its 20th Season as Resident Orchestra. In the 2023–24 Season, Vasily Petrenko and the Orchestra take a fresh look at the works of five major composers in Icons Rediscovered. The series explores the burning inspiration, the living emotion and the human personality behind some of the most iconic masterpieces, including Rachmaninov’s The Bells, Elgar’s Falstaff, Verdi’s Requiem, music from Wagner’s greatest operas and a semi-staged production of Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta. The Season will also feature an autumn residency in Florida, followed by tours to the UAE and Germany, a twelve-concert tour of the USA, a series of relaxed performances across the UK, and collaborations with guest artists including Principal Associate Conductor Alexander Shelley, Yunchan Lim, Sheku-Kanneh-Mason MBE, Miah Persson, Nikolai Lugansky, John Rutter, Jennifer Johnston, and Artist-in-Residence Zlatomir Fung, amongst others.
The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra’s mission is to place orchestral music at the heart of contemporary society and, through collaboration with creative partners, foster deeper engagement with communities to ensure that live orchestral music is accessible to as inclusive and diverse an audience as possible. To help achieve this goal, in 1993 the Orchestra launched RPO Resound, which has grown to become the most innovative and respected orchestral community and education programme in the UK and internationally. Early in 2025, the Orchestra will move its headquarters to Wembley Park in the London Borough of Brent; this will be the realisation of its long-held ambition to embed the Orchestra in a community, in line with its mission to be a truly inclusive and contemporary international orchestra for the modern age.
The Orchestra has always been entrepreneurial; in 1986 it was the first UK orchestra to launch its own record label and it has gone on to embrace advances in digital technology, achieving well over 50 million streams of its recorded music each year. The RPO’s global online audience engages with it through the website and social media channels, where the Orchestra shares streamed performances, artist interviews, ‘behind-the-scenes’ insights and more.
Passion, versatility and uncompromising artistic standards are the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra’s hallmarks; as it looks forward to an exciting future with the patronage of HRH The former Prince of Wales and Vasily Petrenko as Music Director, the RPO will continue to be recognised as one of the world’s most open-minded, forward-thinking and accessible symphony orchestras.
Registered Charity No. 244533
“The flourishing partnership between Vasily Petrenko and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra is vital in both senses of the word. Together they are making indispensable music in performances that are invariably alive, deeply considered and anything but routine.” Bachtrack, February 2024 ★★★★★
“The articulation Petrenko gets from his players is always impressive: scherzo and finale bounced and flew, with superlative horn playing, and the dash to the finishing post had half the audience on its feet.” The Arts Desk, February 2024 ★★★★
"Under Petrenko, the RPO is an extremely stylish limousine, slipping almost imperceptibly through all the gears, but also powering along with maximum torque whenever required." Bachtrack, April 2023 ★★★★★
"Beecham would have been proud. The carefree second movement and the scherzo showed the orchestra revelling in the delicacy of Mahler’s orchestration." Musical Opinion, April 2023
"[Petrenko's] boundless energy fired up the RPO for a magnetic performance." The Times, August 2023 ★★★★
"Petrenko and the RPO wrung all love and pity from [Mahler's Symphony No.3], brass ushering in the final sustained major chords, two timpanists thwacking their concluding affirmations in fortissimo unison, driving the work to its blazing conclusion." The Guardian, May 2023 ★★★★
"...a shattering performance of volcanic power and leaving one in no doubt as to the strength of [Vasily Petrenko’s] relationship with the RPO." Bachtrack, May 2022 ★★★★
"Petrenko’s left hand was hypnotic to watch, shaping phrases, highly expressive and fluid. The players responded by giving it their all, thrillingly, elementally." The Arts Desk, March 2022 ★★★★
"The excellent players in the RPO can make all the requisite polished sounds, but what was most impressive was how the orchestra, under Petrenko, managed the blend and balances between instruments and groups." New York Classical Review, February 2022
"...plenty of signs that, under this conductor, the RPO’s profile is likely to rise just at a time when the orchestra, and musicians generally, most sorely need it." The Guardian, November 2021 ★★★★
"The multi-hued score glittered with bombast and swagger under the conductor Vasily Petrenko. Heavy extra brass pealed from above." The Times, September 2021 ★★★★
‘...with poised contributions from across the orchestra, including silky, dextrous solos by the concertmaster Duncan Riddell and Katherine Lacy’s bubbly, characterful clarinet, everything felt just right. [Vasily] Petrenko incisively peeled away the bombast and uncovered the delicacy as well as the drama of the music.’ The Times, June 2019
‘[Alexander] Shelley and the RPO were on great form here, with Shelley setting quick tempi and the RPO responding with accuracy and tight ensemble. The woodwind section deserve particular praise, with considerable solo work required, not least from bassoonist Helen Storey, with that heartrending plea in the Largo, as well as flautist Emer McDonough’s plaintive second movement solo.’ Bachtrack, November 2019
‘[The concert] was a wonderfully engaging affair, notable for the beauty of the orchestral sound.’ The Guardian
‘The string and wind sections played off each other spectacularly, with careful attention to detail and tone. This was to be expected from the Royal Philharmonic, one of the best and most prestigious symphonic orchestras in the world.’ The Daily Californian