The Lucerne Symphony Orchestra is the resident orchestra at the prestigious KKL Luzern. As Switzerland's oldest symphony orchestra, it has achieved international standing and is considered one of the leading Swiss orchestras. Strongly anchored in Lucerne, a city with a worldwide reputation for music, the orchestra runs a number of concert series and initiated the annual piano festival “Le piano symphonique” in 2022. It also acts as the opera orchestra of the Lucerne Theatre. Michael Sanderling has held the post of Chief Conductor of the orchestra since the 2021/22 season.
Renowned chief conductors including James Gaffigan (2010 – 2021) and Jonathan Nott (1997 – 2002) have shaped the ensemble over the last two decades. Big names such as Constantinos Carydis, Thomas Dausgaard, Charles Dutoit, Marek Janowski, Juanjo Mena, Andris Nelsons and John Storgårds are regular guest conductors of the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra. Many artists of international repute enjoy a close association with the orchestra including Martha Argerich, Joshua Bell, Rudolf Buchbinder, Gautier and Renaud Capuçon, Julia Fischer, Vilde Frang, Gil Shaham, Vadim Gluzman, Hélène Grimaud, Steven Isserlis, Sol Gabetta, Truls Mørk, Daniil Trifonov and Krystian Zimerman.
The Lucerne Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1805/06, at the same time as Beethoven was writing his Violin Concerto, his Fourth Symphony and his Fourth Piano Concerto. With its 200-year history, the orchestra successfully combines tradition and innovation. It actively promotes new music through the commissioning of works from composers including Sofia Gubaidulina, Dieter Ammann, Rodion Shchedrin, Thomas Adès and Wolfgang Rihm. The Rising Stars series, lunchtime concerts and the Arthur Waser Prize signal the orchestra’s commitment to fostering young talent. It runs its own orchestra academy and a comprehensive outreach programme, for which it was awarded the “Junge Ohren” prize in 2018.
In 2021 the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra was able to move into its new home on the Südpol campus. The Orchestra House provides the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra with a state of the art, full-scale rehearsal venue. Besides rehearsals – some of which are open to the public – chamber music concerts and numerous music outreach events also take place at this location.
Guest performances in around 30 countries on 4 continents and in 90 cities have taken the orchestra to the world’s best-known concert halls, such as Amsterdam Concertgebouw, the Philharmonie de Paris, London’s Barbican Hall, St. Petersburg Philharmonie, Salzburg Great Festival Hall, Vienna Musikverein, Moscow’s Tchaikovsky Concert Hall, Seoul Arts Center and Suntory Hall in Tokyo. The Lucerne Symphony Orchestra was the first Swiss orchestra to perform at the Ravinia Festival in Chicago, the Festival de Pâques in Aix-en-Provence and the Bologna Festival. Regular tours to Asia include destinations such as Japan, China, Korea, India and Singapore. Further engagements have taken the orchestra to Germany, Israel, Italy, Spain, Turkey, and also further afield to Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, and Uruguay. The 2022/23 season brings notable debuts for the orchestra, including the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg.
The international profile of the orchestra is reflected in its output of CDs and DVDs. The most recent releases are “Americans” on the French label Harmonia Mundi, and the much-acclaimed recording of two violin concertos by Beethoven and Schnittke for BIS Records. Sony Classical has released albums including “Rachmaninoff in Lucerne” and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. Further recordings with works by Saint-Saëns and Dutilleux (German Record Critics’ Award), Dvořák‘s Sixth Symphony (Top Music Recording 2014, New York Times) and Wolfgang Rihm’s symphony “Nähe Fern” have received awards from Harmonia Mundi. A DVD was released by Accentus Music with Martha Argerich and works by Shchedrin, Dvořák and Shostakovich.
In 2021 the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra sealed a long-term partnership with Warner Classics.
The international promotion of the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra receives its principal funding from the Michael and Emmy Lou Pieper Trust.