The Luzerner Sinfonieorchester is the orchestra-in-residence of the renowned KKL Luzern. As Switzerland’s oldest symphony orchestra, it has gained an international standing that extends far beyond its home territory. Strongly anchored in Lucerne, a city with a worldwide reputation for music, the orchestra offers a number of annual concert cycles and organizes the Zaubersee Festival – Russian Music Lucerne.
It also acts as the opera orchestra of the Lucerne Theatre. In the 2011/12 season, James Gaffigan was appointed Chief Conductor of the orchestra. His contract was extended early in 2015 until 2022. With the formation of the private foundation Stiftung für das Luzerner Sinfonieorchester in 2007/08, the orchestra expanded by 20 musicians to its current size of 70 players.
Leading conductors such as former chief conductor Jonathan Nott, Pinchas Steinberg, Sir Neville Marriner, Leonard Slatkin, Matthias Bamert, Lawrence Foster, Andrey Boreyko, Peter Eötvös, Andris Nelsons, Vasily Petrenko, Marco Armiliato, Hannu Lintu and Domingo Hindoyan are regularly invited. The orchestra’s concerts have long featured soloists of international renown – these include Renaud Capuçon, Isabelle Faust, Kirill Gerstein, Vadim Gluzman, Hilary Hahn, Gidon Kremer, Vilde Frang, Martha Argerich, Nelson Freire, Maria João Pires, Fazil Say, Steven Isserlis, Gautier Capuçon, Truls Mørk and Hélène Grimaud.
The Luzerner Sinfonieorchester was founded in 1805/06. As a dynamic ensemble with a 200-year history, it understands how to mediate successfully and creatively between tradition and innovation. It attacks the classical-romantic repertoire with unabashed curiosity; its focus on individual composers gives rise to creative cycles of their works, deepening audience appreciation of the music. In addition, the orchestra takes every opportunity to highlight rarities in the repertoire, broadening the horizons of its eager audiences and embracing music of a contemporary character. The orchestra has long been a champion of modern music, commissioning work from composers such as Sofia Gubaidulina, Rodion Shchedrin, Fazil Say, Thomas Adès and Marc-André Dalbavie. A four-part cycle of premieres featuring work by Wolfgang Rihm received a great deal of attention in the 2011/12 season. Through programs like Rising Stars, Lunch Concerts, the Arthur Waser Award, and the Art Mentor Foundation Lucerne Award for Young Composers the Luzerner Sinfonieorchester advocates for young artists.
The orchestra, in recent years, has been invited to perform at the Ravinia Festival, Chicago; at the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam; the Grosse Festspielhaus, Salzburg; the Shostakovich Philharmonia, St. Petersburg; the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Paris; the Suntory Hall, Tokyo; the Barbican Hall, London; and the Tchaikovsky Hall, Moscow. In the 2016/17 season the orchestra played at the third Bogotá International Music Festival and in Bologna. Following a tour of Japan in 2008 and a tour of China in 2011, the orchestra embarked on its third Asian tour in 2016, including debuts in important concert halls in China, South Korea, Singapore and India. Previous tours took the orchestra to South America, Israel and Spain.
The orchestra's international profile is reflected in its recordings: most recently it has recorded a CD for BIS Records with Brahms’ violin concerto with Vadim Gluzman (April 2017). Other recorings include an album with works by Saint-Saëns (2016), Dutilleux’s tout un monde lointain (2015), Dvořák’s Symphony No. 6 and the American Suite (2014) and Wolfgang Rihm’s symphony Nähe fern (2013) for the French label harmonia mundi. The Orchestra has recorded a DVD of works by Shchedrin, Dvořák, Franck and Shostakovich for the German Accentus Music label as well as CDs. It has recorded CDs for Naïve Classique, Kairos and Sony Classical.