Orchestre de la Suisse Romande
Founded in 1918 by Ernest Ansermet, who was its principal conductor until 1967, the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande (OSR) is made up of 112 permanent musicians. It gives subscription concerts in Geneva and Lausanne, symphonic programmes for the City of Geneva, the annual United Nations Day concert and accompanies operatic performances at the Grand Théâtre of Geneva. Over the decades, the OSR has built up an international reputation thanks to its historic recordings and its interpretation of the 20th-century French and Russian repertories.
The British conductor Jonathan Nott has served as the OSR’s Music and Artistic Director since January 2017, following in the steps of the OSR’s founding head and successive music directors: Paul Klecki (1967-1970), Wolfgang Sawallisch (1970-1980), Horst Stein (1980-1985), Armin Jordan (1985-1997), Fabio Luisi (1997-2002), Pinchas Steinberg (2002-2005), Marek Janowski (2005-2012), Neeme Järvi (2012-2015) and its principal guest conductor Kazuki Yamada (2012-2017). Under their guidance, the OSR has been a key player in the history of music through its discovery, first performance and support of contemporary composers. Works by Igor Stravinsky, Darius Milhaud, Arthur Honegger, Frank Martin, André-François Marescotti, Benjamin Britten, Witold Lutoslawski, Heinz Holliger, William Blank, Peter Eötvös, James Macmillan Pascal Dusapin and Michael Jarrell constitute just some of the OSR’s world premières. The OSR has continually pursued as one of its important missions the promotion and performance of new symphonic music, especially by Swiss composers.
With Swiss Radio and Television as its close partner since its beginnings, the OSR had its programmes broadcast on the airwaves already early on, bringing them to millions of listeners throughout the world. Its partnership with Decca (over 100 discs) gave rise to truly legendary recordings, enhancing its position on the international music scene. The orchestra has made prize-winning recordings for around a dozen international labels. In 2019, Decca plans a major re-release of the OSR’s complete recordings with Ansermet for the 50th anniversary of the conductor’s death. The orchestra currently makes two to three recordings each season for PentaTone, and Jonathan Nott will make his recording debut with the OSR in June 2019 at Geneva’s Victoria Hall with music by Johann and Richard Strauss for PentaTone.
The OSR’s international tours have taken it to the leading concert halls in Europe (Berlin, London, Vienna, Salzburg, Paris, Amsterdam) and Asia (Tokyo, Seoul, Beijing), as well as the most important music centres in the Americas (Boston, New York, San Francisco, Washington, São Paulo, Buenos Aires and Montevideo). During the 2011-2012 Season, the OSR played for the first time in Moscow and St. Petersburg, and July 2014 saw appearances at Tokyo’s Suntory Hall and the SeongNam Arts Center in Seoul. In February 2015, it gave seven concerts on the US East and West Coasts, and in April/May 2016 it was invited to China and India. In January 2017, the OSR under Jonathan Nott made guest appearances in Madrid and elsewhere in Spain. The OSR was in South America in May 2018 for six concerts, and returns to Asia in April 2019 for nine concerts.
The OSR is highly sought after by prestigious festivals, including, since 2000, the Budapest Spring Festival, the Chorégies d'Orange, the Música de Canarias Festival, the Lucerne Easter Festival, Les Nuits Romantiques in Aix-les-Bains, the Radio France and Montpellier Festival, the Menuhin Festival Gstaad, the Musical September in Montreux, the Robeco Zomerconcerten in Amsterdam, the Music Festival Grafenegg in Austria and the BBC Proms in London.
The Orchestre de la Suisse Romande enjoys the support of the City of Geneva, the Republic and Canton of Geneva, the Canton of Vaud, Swiss Radio-Television, the Genevan and Vaud Friends of the Orchestra, and many other sponsors and patrons. It benefits from the support of the Canton of Vaud for its subscription concerts in Lausanne.