Makala_2 Photo © Marco Borggreve Makala_3 Photo © Marco Borggreve Makala_4 Photo © Marco Borggreve OPO_1 Photo © Marco Borggreve Logo_OPO Logo © Oslo Philharmonic

On 27 September 1919, a new orchestra took to the stage of the old Logen Hall in Oslo to give its first public concert. Conductor Georg Schnéevoigt presided over performances of Grieg’s Piano Concerto and Sinding’s First Symphony. After 40 years of making do, the Norwegian capital had at last got the orchestra it deserved. The Oslo Philharmonic was born and soon world-famous musicians were coming to conduct, relishing its youth and enthusiasm. Stravinsky and Ravel visited Oslo to coach the musicians through brand-new music and the national broadcaster, NRK, began transmitting concerts across the entire country.

Over the next half-century, the Oslo Philharmonic’s reputation grew steadily and then blossomed in the 1960’s. Since then its chief conductors have famously included Herbert Blomstedt (1962 – 1968), Mariss Jansons (1979 – 2002), André Previn (2002 – 2006), Jukka-Pekka Saraste (2006 – 2013) and Vasily Petrenko (2013 – 2020).

In May 2018, Klaus Mäkelä first guest-conducted the orchestra and on the basis of this debut concert was invited to be its next chief conductor, effective from the 2020–2021 season. Three subsequent invitations consolidated the relationship between Klaus Mäkelä and the orchestra, and in May 2020, before the start of his tenure, the Oslo Philharmonic announced a four-year contract extension ahead of the start of his first season, taking the partnership to a total of seven seasons.

Introducing the 2020 / 21 season Klaus Mäkelä said: “One of our first big projects together will be performing all seven symphonies by Sibelius − music which is part of the orchestra’s and my DNA. Throughout the season I have made a point of programming Sibelius’ music alongside particular works by Monteverdi, Vivaldi, Debussy, Ravel and Penderecki amongst others. These couplings are designed to take us on a journey that I believe might well change our approach to each symphony.”