2022 saw the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra embark on much-missed full calendar year of in-person concerts and community and education projects with RPO Resound, with twelve packed months of discovery and reconnecting with our audiences across the world.
This year we performed in over 80 venues across the United Kingdom, Europe and, for the first time since the pandemic, the United States. Thank you to everyone who joined the journey.
Our award-winning Community and Education programme, RPO Resound, also felt the benefits of a full year without restrictions, delivering 447 sessions across a range of impactful projects. From partnering with the Football Association on the UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 cultural programme on a project that reached more than 100,000 audience members, through 4,000 participants across ten host cities, to our Relaxed Performance in Brent. RPO Resound has touched so many lives through the power of music this year.
Read on to see some of favourite moments from 2022
At the beginning of 2022, the Orchestra travelled to America, becoming the first international orchestra to tour the USA post-pandemic. The tour featured a week-long residency in Orlando where the Orchestra collaborated with Jennifer Hudson and Leon Bridges, and concerts in California, Virginia, and New Jersey before finally arriving at New York's Carnegie Hall, marking the return of the RPO to the venue for the first time in 25 years.
“A landmark arrived on Monday evening, however, when the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of London became the first international orchestra to appear at the hall since the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique on Feb. 24, 2020...
“The cellist Kian Soltani, the soloist in the Elgar, played with buttery understatement and intimacy, and considerable wit in the Lento. It speaks to his collegiality that his encore included five of the orchestra’s cellists in his arrangement of an excerpt from Shostakovich’s film score for “The Gadfly.”
New York Times
On 11 January BBC Radio 4 aired a documentary on the Lullaby Project, a project in which RPO musicians, in partnership with the Irene Taylor Trust, helped mums and dads in challenging circumstances the opportunity to create bespoke lullabies, allowing them to explore their thoughts and feelings about their children, enhancing the bond between them by creating something that can be treasured forever. The documentary highlighted the RPO's work in HMP Norwich in October and November 2021.
The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Vasily Petrenko returned from their USA tour for a performance of Holst's The Planets in a packed Royal Festival Hall, alongside Rachmaninov's Paganini Variations performed by Mao Fujita and a new commission by composer Dani Howard that marked 75 years of the Orchestra, titled Ellipsis.
We also welcomed our Artist-in-Residence for 2022, violinist Fumiaki Miura.
On Wednesday 2 March the Royal Albert Hall was filled with the noise and dazzling lights of Broadway as the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra performed the hits from the nation's best-loved musicals with stars Marisha Wallace, Bradley Jaden, Ben Forster and Kerry Ellis, presented by Broadway legend Gary Wilmot.
We also celebrated the legendary John Williams' 90th birthday earlier in the year with a programme of his film music in Cambridge's Corn Exchange.
Our Great British Music season continued with Elgar's The Dream of Gerontius in the Royal Albert Hall, with tenor Ed Lyon taking up the titular role, Kai Rüütel singing as the Angel, Derek Welton stepping in as the Angel of the Agony and the voices of the Philharmonia Chorus.
"Not everyone in the large audience knew this work well perhaps, but Petrenko and colleagues surely made converts." Bachtrack
In May the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra completed its first major European tour since the pandemic with ten concerts across Germany conducted by Vasily Petrenko, who was joined by soloists Anne-Sophie Mutter and Khatia Buniatishvili.
Back in the UK our Great British Music series delivered another highlight, with Vasily Petrenko conducting Britten’s War Requiem at the Royal Albert Hall. For the first time ever in the United Kingdom the piece was accompanied by a BSL interpreter throughout the performance allowing more audiences to experience Britten’s powerful work.
The Orchestra’s Community and Education team, RPO Resound, initiated a new mental health programme in Brent for Mental Health Awareness Week (9-15 May) with the support of The Baring Foundation. The project aims to work with adults and adolescents who are engaging with mental health services, and began with workshops at the Kingswood Centre, a secure unit in Brent.
Wrapping up the Great British Music season at Southbank Centre was Elgar's Sea Pictures with mezzo-soprano Kathryn Rudge, alongside Mahler's Symphony No.6 in the second half.
"...a shattering performance of volcanic power and leaving one in no doubt as to the strength of his relationship with the RPO." Bachtrack
On Thursday 2 June the RPO performed Video Games in concert at the Royal Albert Hall, playing music from Kingdom Hearts, Fortnite, The Legend of Zelda, Hades, Fallout and many more games to a rapturous reception. Composer Eímear Noone conducted the occasion with guest singer Aisling McGlynn.
The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra helped deliver the UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 Cultural Programme in partnership with the Football Association, celebrating women's football as the nation cheered on the Lionesses. Taking place across ten host cities and featuring seven female workshop leaders/composers, ten local anthems, two new full orchestral pieces (including a football concerto) and an expert panel series, the programme reached more than 100,000 people from February to July.
The return of the world's largest classical music festival in the summer saw two Royal Philharmonic Orchestra concerts, the first being 8-Bit to Infinity, the very first video game music Prom. Conducted by Robert Ames, the works of composers such as Jessica Curry, Austin Wintory, Hildur Guðnadóttir and Sam Slater formed the unique programme.
One year since Vasily Petrenko took up the helm as the Orchestra's Music Director, he conducted the RPO's second Prom of the season with Prokofiev's Symphony no.5, alongside George Walker's Trombone Concerto with soloist Peter Moore.
The first concert of our 2022-23 Resident season in London's Cadogan Hall starred our new Artist-in-Residence Isata Kanneh-Mason, who performed Clara Schumann's Piano Concerto on 22 September with conductor Anu Tali.
Wednesday 14 – 15 September also saw the Orchestra make a short trip across the continent to play in Prague's Rudolfinum for the Prague Dvořák Festival and Linz's Brucknerhaus with Vasily Petrenko.
Our Journeys of Discovery series began on 2 October in Southbank Centre's Royal Festival Hall with 'Awakening', featuring Grieg's Piano Concerto and the grand philosophical vistas of the imagination in Strauss' Also Sprach Zarathustra. Vasily Petrenko conducted the first programme of a series he described as "journeys of the human spirit, all the emotions, all the music, all the ultimate obsessions, of the ecstasy, of transcendence, of dreams, of conflict and of freedom."
On that day we also introduced our limited-edition Journeys of Discovery Lemon & Thyme London Dry Gin produced by Wardington's Originals, led by Shaun Ward. Combined with strong citrus notes, lemon balm, and herbs, every bottle purchased supports the RPO's work. Find out more in our shop.
On 23 October we gave a rare performance of Mahler's gargantuan Symphony No.8 in the Royal Albert Hall, the second concert of our Journeys of Discovery series. Five choirs, eight soloists and the Orchestra combined with nearly 600 people on stage for this performance of the 1906 work.
"For anyone mourning the loss of large-scale, mind-shattering events in the past two years, this was redemption." The Observer
We also embarked on an extensive tour across Slovakia, Croatia, Poland, Lithuania and Greece with soloists Simon Trpčeski, Sergei Krylov and Anastasiya Petryshak.
On 4 October RPO Resound visited Thorpe Park for ACE International Schools' STEAM Day, celebrating science, technology, engineering, the arts and maths in education, with 8,553 children in attendance. The students were engaged with orchestral music by taking part in interactive performances, trying out musical instruments and having opportunities to make their own compositions.
Our Resident London season at Cadogan Hall continued in November with Principal Associate Conductor Alexander Shelley conducting a special performance of Mendelssohn's A Midsummer Night's Dream. The unique rendition featured the Bard's story brilliantly retold live on stage by actor Tama Matheson.
Christmas made a rip-roaring return in 2022 with our all-time favourite festive shows. From Cadogan Hall’s much loved Christmas Cracker and the timeless treats in A Classical Christmas, to John Rutter’s Christmas Celebration in the Royal Albert Hall, December is the time for making merry with music.
7.30pm 17 Dec CROWD SELFIE!! The audiences at the shows this year are something else!! The love, the excitement, the laughs. Feels SO GOOD!! Thanks for being awesome. @RoyalAlbertHall @rpoonline @nycgb @royalchoral #RAHChristmas ?❤️??? pic.twitter.com/OAj7TZwVp5
— Greg Beardsell (@gregbeardsell) December 17, 2022
Thank you for joining us on our journey so far, and we hope to see you again soon in the new year.