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BBC Philharmonic: Wikis


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The BBC Philharmonic is a professional broadcasting symphony orchestra based in Manchester, England. It is one of five radio orchestras maintained by the British Broadcasting Corporation.



The 2ZY Orchestra was formed in 1922 for a Manchester radio station of the same name. It gave the first broadcast performances of many famous English works, including Elgar's Dream of Gerontius and Enigma Variations and Holst's The Planets. The orchestra was part-funded by the British Broadcasting Company (precursor of the BBC), and re-named the Northern Wireless Orchestra in 1926.

When the BBC Symphony Orchestra was established in London in 1930, the new Corporation cut its regional orchestras' funding. The Northern Wireless Orchestra was downsized to just 9 players, and renamed the Northern Studio Orchestra.

Three years later, however, the BBC reversed its decision and maintained a full orchestra again - this time called the BBC Northern Symphony Orchestra. This was the beginning of the orchestra in its present form.


The orchestra played at its first Prom in 1961, and enjoyed popularity with performances at the Free Trade Hall, a venue it shared with the Hallé.

In 1982, the orchestra received a vote of confidence from the BBC, who expanded the orchestra and changed its name to the BBC Philharmonic. The name gave the message that ensemble was no longer a Northern orchestra - it was an orchestra based in the North. A musician's joke at the time referred to it as the BBC Enharmonic, as it had changed its name but sounded the same.


Like all BBC performing groups, the orchestra contributes to the schedule of Radio 3, recording at Studio 7 of New Broadcasting House on Oxford Road, Manchester. Since 1996, most of the orchestra's live performances have been at the city's Bridgewater Hall, although it frequently tours the UK and internationally.

Anecdotally, the 'BBC Phil' is known as the most adventurous of the BBC orchestras, and has a younger demographic of players. It has always embraced contemporary composers, working with Copland, Walton and Berio amongst others. Since 1991, the orchestra has appointed a British composer/conductor - Peter Maxwell Davies held the post until 2000, before being succeeded by James MacMillan. The orchestra also had a long-standing relationship with Sir Georg Solti.

The BBC Philharmonic has made over 150 recordings, and for the most part, it has steered clear of orchestral 'warhorses'. Series of British film music, the music of George Enescu, and Stokowski's Bach transcriptions have been featured, all on the Chandos label.

The current principal conductor is the Italian conductor Gianandrea Noseda

Principal conductors

External links

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