The Sinfonieorchester Wuppertal (Wuppertal Symphony Orchestra; = SOW), which comprises 88 musicians, is classed as an 'A' grade orchestra in Germany. It has been under the leadership of Professor Toshiyuki Kamioka since the 2004-2005 season and in that time has evolved considerably, both musically and technically.
The orchestra can look back on an almost 150-year history, if the founding of the Elberfeld Kapelle, one of its two local predecessors, is taken as the origin of the ensemble. Soon after its formation, the orchestra was honoured by the presence of major artists such as Clara Schumann, Johannes Brahms and Max Bruch. Many world-famous conductors began their careers in Wuppertal, including Erich Kleiber, Otto Klemperer, and Hans Weisbach.
The orchestra's home for over 100 years has been the Historische Stadthalle Wuppertal - a jewel of the Jugendstil. Its remarkable acoustics make it one of the best concert halls in Europe. Here, every season, the ensemble gives over 40 performances ranging from symphony, choral and chamber concerts to special events.
The 'Wuppertalers' regularly appear in Germany and abroad. Their concert tours have taken them to, among others, Paris, Wroclaw, Turin and Rome. In addition to annual performances in Milan, they were fêted at a concert with world-famous saxophonist Branford Marsalis at the Ravello Festival in 2007. They have also undertaken a highly successful concert tour in Japan, where they played to full houses in Musashino, Tsukuba, Tokyo and Yokohama. Two new CD’s resulted from this tour: Tchaikovsky's Pathétique und Bruckner's 7th Symphony. A further, more extensive tour in Japan is planned for the 2010-2011 season.
The Sinfonieorchester Wuppertal has recently moved into new and unchartered territories with the recording of film scores by Hans Zimmer. In 2007, it recorded the music for the animated Hollywood feature film Little Dodo. This was followed, in 2008, by the documentary film Tortuga and the German animated film Mullewapp - Das große Abenteuer der Freunde.
The ensemble also devotes much attention to younger concert goers. In addition to concerts in schools and family concerts, the ensemble organises project-oriented workshops for musicians and teachers, as well as visiting schools. The range of activities is completed by the School-Concert Project, during which professionals rehearse and then perform with young amateurs.