The NHK Symphony Orchestra
is a Japanese orchestra based in Tokyo. The orchestra gives concerts in several venues, including the NHK Hall, Suntory Hall, and the Tokyo Opera City Concert Hall.
The orchestra began as the New Symphony Orchestra on October 5, 1926 and was the country's first professional symphony orchestra. Later, it changed its name to the Japan Symphony Orchestra. In 1951, after receiving financial support from NHK, the orchestra took its current name.
The most recent music director of the orchestra was Vladimir Ashkenazy, from 2004 to 2007. Ashkenazy now has the title of conductor laureate. Charles Dutoit, the orchestra's music director from 1998 to 2003, is now its music director emeritus. Wolfgang Sawallisch, honorary conductor from 1967 to 1994, held the title of honorary conductor laureate until his death. The orchestra's current permanent conductors are Yuzo Toyama, since 1979, and Tadaaki Otaka, since 2010. Herbert Blomstedt holds the title of honorary conductor, since 1986. André Previn has the title of principal guest conductor, and is scheduled to relinquish that post in August 2012. In June 2012, the orchestra named Paavo Järvi as its next chief conductor, as of the 2015–2016 season, with an initial contract of 3 years.
Järvi’ssecond season as Chief Conductor of the NHK Symphony Orchestra opened on a high when he conducts Mahler’s Symphony No.8 in celebration of the orchestra’s 90th Anniversary. They also performed Mahler to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of Suntory Hall and they will embark on a major European tour in spring 2017 with performances in Berlin, Luxembourg, Paris, Amsterdam, London, Vienna and Cologne.
As Artistic Director of The Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, Paavo Järvi and the orchestra returned to Asia for performances across Taiwan and Japan in autumn 2016. Throughout the season they will continue their critically acclaimed Brahms symphony cycle with performances throughout Germany and Switzerland. The first recording of the Brahms cycle is released on Sony’s, RCA label in spring 2017.
In summer 2016, Paavo Järvi concluded his highly successful tenure as Music Director of the Orchestre de Paris and was simultaneously heralded by the French Critics’ Association as ‘Musical Personality of the Year’. Highlights of his six year tenure included conducting the opening concerts of the new Paris Philhamonie which were recorded for i-Tunes and immediately became an international bestseller; the Sibelius Medal in recognition of his achievements in championing the Finnish composer’s music in France: and the release of his highly acclaimed recording of music by Dutilleux on the Erato label which received an Echo Klassik Award for contemporary recording.
Guest engagements see the completion of Paavo Järvi’s extensive Nielsen Symphony Cycle with the Philharmonia Orchestra in London, return visits to the Wiener Symphoniker, Berlin Staatskapelle and performances with the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, Budapest Festival Orchestra, and L’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia. In spring 2017 Paavo Järvi also conducts Don Giovanni at Milan’s Teatro alla Scala as well as orchestral concerts with the La Scala orchestra. He also returns to conduct the Frankfurt Radio Symphony, where he is Conductor Laureate.
The 2016/17 season concludes with a week of performances in mid-July at the Pärnu Music Festival in Estonia. Founded in 2010 by Paavo Järvi, the festival offers both conducting master-classes and concerts. As a festival celebrating the orchestra at its heart, Järvi created a new ensemble which has become the uncontested highlight of the summer season; the Estonian Festival Orchestra brings together leading Estonian musicians with soloists from Europe’s top-ranking orchestras.
With an extensive discography, Paavo Järvi’s latest releases are the complete Nielsen Symphonies with the Frankfurt Radio Symphony on Sony Japan, and Elgar and Walton’s Cello Concertos with Steven Isserlis and the Philharmonia Orchestra on Hyperion. He was named Artist of the Year by both Gramophone (UK) and Diapason (France) in autumn 2015.