RAI Symphony Orchestra, Turin
The Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della Rai (OSN Rai) was established in 1994, since when it has welcomed some of the best musicians of recent years to join its original forces. Its early concerts were conducted by Georges Prêtre and Giuseppe Sinopoli, and the current principal director is James Conlon, who took up his post in October 2016. His immediate predecessor was Slovakian conductor Juraj Valčuh, who had held the post since November 2009. Jeffrey Tate was principal guest conductor between 1998 and 2002, and honorary conductor until July 2011. Between 2001 and 2007 Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos was principal conductor, while Gianandrea Noseda served as principal guest conductor from 2003 to 2006, and Eliahu Inbal was honorary conductor from 1996 to 2001. Other eminent conductors to have taken the helm of the OSN Rai include Carlo Maria Giulini, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Mstislav Rostropovich, Myung-Whun Chung, Riccardo Chailly, Lorin Maazel, Zubin Mehta, Yuri Ahronovitch, Marek Janowski, Semyon Bychkov, Dmitrij Kitajenko, Alexander Lazarev, Valery Gergiev, Gerd Albrecht, Yutaka Sado, Mikko Franck, Roberto Abbado and Kirill Petrenko.
Because its concerts are broadcast on Italian radio (Radio 3) and television (Rai 1, Rai 3 and Rai 5), the OSN Rai has played a significant role in promoting not only the core orchestral repertoire but also avant-garde and contemporary works. It has commissioned and premiered a number of new works, receiving critical acclaim and numerous awards, including the 2004 Premio Abbiati for “best musical initiative” for its Rai NuovaMusica contemporary-music project.
The orchestra is based in Turin, where it presents an annual season, as well as performing in special concert series. Since 2013 it has also taken part in classical music festivals held in the Piazza San Carlo, events organised each summer by Turin City Council. It is frequently invited to perform at major festivals such as the MITO SettembreMusica, the Venice Biennale, Ravenna Festival and the Sagra Musicale Malatestiana in Rimini, and plays a leading role in events such as the Assisi Christmas concerts, which are broadcast worldwide, and the celebrations held to mark Italy’s Republic Day.
The orchestra also has many prestigious commitments outside Italy, having undertaken many international tours (taking in Austria, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Spain and the Canaries, the UK, Japan and South America). In 2006 it was invited to perform at the Salzburg Festival and at the Berlin Philharmonie, as part of the Hans Werner Henze eightieth-birthday celebrations. In 2011 the OSN Rai performed in the United Arab Emirates as part of the Abu Dhabi Classics, and toured Germany, Austria and Slovakia, making its debut at the Vienna Musikverein. A year later it made its first appearance at the RadiRO Festival in Bucharest, with its debut at the city’s Enescu Festival following in 2013. In November 2014 the orchestra toured Germany and Switzerland, while in October 2015 it visited Russia. April last year saw performances at venues in the south of Italy (Catania, Reggio Calabria and Taranto) and, in December, an acclaimed reading of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony at the Royal Opera House of Muscat (Oman).
The OSN Rai appears in the opera films Rigoletto from Mantova, conducted by Zubin Mehta and directed by Marco Bellocchio [Naxos 2.110374-77 (DVD) / NBD0052-54 (Blu-ray video)], and Cenerentola: A Live Fairy Tale, both of which were broadcast by Rai 1. The orchestra has also recorded signature tunes and soundtracks for various Rai television programmes. Many of its concerts have been recorded live and are available on CD and DVD.