About the orchestra
The New Philharmonic Orchestra of Westphalia was founded by a merger of two orchestras in the northern Ruhr area in 1996: the Westphalian Symphony Orchestra in Recklinghausen and the Philharmonic Orchestra in Gelsenkirchen.
Funding for the orchestra comes from the cities of Gelsenkirchen, Recklinghausen, and the district of Unna, as weil as from the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia. Between 1997 and 2007 the Austrian conductor Johannes Wildner was the new orchestra’s music director. In the summer of 2007, he was succeeded by Mecklenburg-born Heiko Mathias Förster, who had directed the Brandenburg and Munich Symphony Orchestras before.
The orchestra is one of the largest of the region and performs in about 300 events every season, both in Germany and abroad. With its 128 musicians the orchestra’s repertoire extends from the baroque to contemporary music.
In addition to accompanying the Gelsenkirchen opera and playing symphony concerts throughout the Ruhr Area, one of the orchestra’s main activities is working with children and young people: Thanks to the support of private sponsors, the musicians, together with keen teachers and parents, have succeeded in reaching a large number of young people and getting them interested in music.
It goes without saying that, as the largest of the three “Landesorchester” of North Rhine-Westphalia, the recording of outstanding projects is high on the orchestra’s agenda. Under the direction of Johannes Wilder, CDs with music by Bruckner, Brahms and Bruch have been published, followed by several recordings conducted by Heiko Mathias Förster, with mucis by Mahler, Beethoven, the Strauss family and others.
Numerous performances in the past years have succeeded in spreading the orchestra’s name beyond borders of the Ruhr Area: The “Landesorchester” performed at the cathedralof Speyer – one of the World Heritage Sites, at the Cologne and Berlin Philharmonic concert halls, the Bremen concert hall “Glocke”, followed by coneerts at the “Franziskaner” in Villingen, the “Teatro Dante Alighieri” in Ravenna, the “Teatro Communale di Modena”, at Zurich’s ‘Ton halle”, the Musical Theatre Basel as weil as at the “KölnArena” where the “Lord of the Rings”-Symphony received vociferous applause.
In September 2009, the orchestra was invited to perform, among other works, Heiko Mathias Förster’s adaptation of Richard Wagner’s “Ring without words” at the “Groïse Festspielhaus” (Great Festival Hall) in Salzburg. The year 2010 marked another highlight in the orchestra’s history with many coneerts and extraordinary projects for RUHR.2010, the European capitalof culture, as weil as a concert in Tongeren, Belgium, at the Basilica Festival.
In the autumn of 2000, the young orchestra made its debut outside Europe following an invitation to the “Bejing-Festival” in China.
Recently, the New Philharmonic Orchestra of Westphalia has become an important touring partner for internationally renowned soloists: In 2005/2006 there were two coneerts with the Russian singer Anna Netrebko; in 2007 the orchestra accompanied a gala performance with Angelika Kirchschlager and Simon Keenlyside as weil as the Italian star soprano Lucia Aliberti. Further highlights were several performances with the Latvian mezzo-soprano Elïna Garanèa in 2009, with Lang Lang and Herbie Hancock in the the same year and with Vittorio Grigolo, the new Italian world-class tenor, in spring 2011.