The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra (= RLPO) administered by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Society, is one of the oldest concert-giving organisations in the world. It gave its first performance on March 12 1840, and was awarded Royal Patronage in 1957. It remains today the only orchestral society in Britain to own and operate its own hall.
The original Philharmonic Hall opened its doors in 1849 but was destroyed by fire in 1933. Renowned Liverpool architect Herbert J Rowse was commissioned to design the current Art Deco building, which was completed in 1939. Between 1992 and 1995 the society embarked on an extensive ?10.3 million refurbishment and the hall's facilities and acoustics can now rival those of any concert hall in the country.
The RLPO has a distinguished history and an impressive list of Principal Conductors including Max Bruch, Sir Charles Halle, Sir Henry J. Wood, Sir Malcolm Sargent, Sir John Pritchard and Sir Charles Groves. More recently the post has been held by Walter Weller, David Atherton and Marek Janowski. Libor Pesek was appointed Principal Conductor in 1987 and became Music Director in 1988. Petr Altrichter became Principal Conductor in 1997.
The RLPO undertakes a broad range of concerts in Liverpool each year including one of the nation's most successful seasons of summer concerts, the Summer Pops, which regularly attracts more than 35,000 people. The orchestra also gives a series of concerts in Preston, its second home, and appears regularly in Blackburn, Birmingham, Carlisle and Leeds. The RLPO tours frequently, both in the UK and overseas. Appearances in recent years have included the USA, the Far east and extensively throughout Europe and in 1993 it became the first non-Czech orchestra to be afforded the honour of opening the Prague Spring Festival.
For nearly 50 years the RLPO has made successful recordings in the superb acoustics of Philharmonic Hall. Sir Malcolm Sargent conducted the first recordings, which included George Frideric Handel's Messiah, and Libor Pesek has led recordings of Benjamin Britten, Gustav Mahler, Smetana, Suk and Strauss as well as a Dvoràk Symphony cycle, all for Virgin Classics. Conductor Laureate Vernon Handley completed a highly-acclaimed cycle of Vaughan Williams Symphonies foe EMI Eminence while Sir Charles Mackerras recorded L.v. Beethoven Symphonies and Gustav Mahler Symphonies for the same label.
The RLPO has an extensive community education programme, and the RLPO give over 15 concerts for young people each season. The RLPO works closely through each season with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Choir, which actually pre-dates the orchestra as a fixed entity. Since 1985 Professor Ian Tracey has been Chorus Master of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Choir and it has established an excellent reputation in its own right through recordings and foreign tours. The RLPO with Carl Davis undertook a month long tour of the east coast of USA in February 1996. The RLPO made a return visit to the Prague Spring Festival in May 1996, and has toured to Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Spain, Canary Islands, Singapore, and Taiwan. The orchestra will be returning to the Prague Spring Festival in May 2000 for their third visit, and are planning an extensive USA tour for 2004 with their Music Director Designate, Gerard Schwarz.