The Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra dates back to 1765 and is thus one of the world’s oldest orchestras, celebrating its 250th anniversary in 2015. Edvard Grieg had a close relationship with the orchestra and was its artistic director during the years 1880–82. In 2003 Andrew Litton, currently music director of the orchestra, was appointed chief conductor. Under Litton’s direction the orchestra has been increasing its international activities by means of touring, commissions and recording projects. Edward Gardner is engaged as principal guest conductor (he will take over as chief conductor in 2015) and Kai Grinde Myrann as assistant conductor.
The orchestra, with the status of a Norwegian National Orchestra, consists of 101 players. Touring regularly, it has during the last few seasons performed in the Concertgebouw, Royal Albert Hall, the Vienna Musikverein and Konzerthaus, the Gasteig Philharmonie in Munich, Carnegie Hall in New York, Usher Hall in Edinburgh and the Philharmonie in Berlin. The orchestra records extensively for BIS and in 2007 received a special award for its recording of all Grieg’s orchestral music from the Grieg Society of Great Britain. Other acclaimed releases include a disc of piano concertos by Prokofiev with Freddy Kempf as soloist, and a three-disc cycle of Mendelssohn’s symphonies which also received critical praise, with Symphony No.2 receiving a 2010 BBC Music Magazine Award. The orchestra’s recording of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring and Petrushka was nominated for a 2011 Gramophone Award, while a release of Bruch’s First Violin Concerto with Vadim Gluzman received a Diapason d’Or de l’Année the same year.