Founded in 1960, the Liège Royal Philharmonic (OPRL) is French-speaking Belgium’s only professional symphony orchestra. Supported by the Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles (Belgium’s French-speaking Community), with the assistance of the National Lottery, and by the City of Liège and the Province of Liège, the OPRL performs in Liège – in the prestigious setting of the Salle Philharmonique (inaugurated in 1887) – and throughout Belgium (in Antwerp, Brussels, Charleroi, Hasselt, Mons, Namur, Saint-Hubert, Sankt Vith, Virton, and other locations), as well as in great concert halls and at major festivals around Europe (in Amsterdam, Paris, and Vienna, for example, as well as in Spain, in Switzerland, in other French cities, and elsewhere) and in Japan and the United States. In 2018 and 2019, the OPRL will be a guest of the Festival des Cathédrales de Picardie, La Seine Musicale (Paris), and the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. In 2019, it will tour Japan and will perform at the prestigious Enescu Festival in Bucharest.
Moulded by its founder, Fernand Quinet, and by its Music Directors (Manuel Rosenthal, Paul Strauss, Pierre Bartholomée, Louis Langrée, Pascal Rophé, François-Xavier Roth, and, since 2011, Christian Arming), the OPRL has developed a sound identity at the crossroads of the Germanic and French traditions. This course will continue under Gergely Madaras, starting in September 2019. It combines a determination to support new work and to promote the Franco-Belgian heritage, while also exploring new repertoire, with a recording policy that has led to nearly 100 recordings, most of which have won numerous international awards and distinctions.
Recent and ongoing developments in its discography include a recording with the Sirba Octet (out in May 2018 on Deutsche Grammophon/Universal France), Respighi’s complete symphonic works with John Neschling (on BIS, ongoing project), symphonic works by Saint-Saëns (BIS), the Bloch and Elgar cello concertos (with Gary Hoffman, on Dolce Volta, out in October 2018), Ysaÿe violin concertos (with Renaud Capuçon, on Alpha, to be released in December 2019), and, to mark Franck’s bicentenary, his symphonic works (on Fuga Libera) and oratorios (on Musique en Wallonie).
For more than fifteen years now, the OPRL has taken up the challenge of presenting the greatest music to the widest possible audience through original projects such as the “Music Factory”, “Les samedis en famille”, “Les Concerts du chef”, “Musique à midi”, and “Happy Hour!” and specific series such as “Musiques anciennes” (early music), “Musiques du monde” (world music), “Piano 5 étoiles”, and “Orgue” (organ). Since 2016, it has benefited from a partnership with the Mezzo Live HD television channel (in Europe and Asia).
The OPRL is also very much committed to the social role it plays throughout the year, taking music to sections of the population with little or no experience of classical culture. It makes a particular effort to reach young people, via educational workshops, activities in schools, thematic concerts (including “L’Orchestre à la portée des enfants”), and especially, since 2015, through the establishment of neighbourhood orchestras with the ReMuA association (El Sistema Liège).
The conductors and soloists lined up for the next few seasons include the first three laureates of the Queen Elisabeth Competition (Violin 2019), Jean-Jacques Kantorow, Renaud Capuçon, Nicholas Angelich, Gary Hoffman, and Adrien La Marca (in residence in 2018–19). Recent and upcoming commissions and premieres include works by Éric Tanguy (2017), Philippe Boesmans, Fazil Say (2019), and the young Belgian composer Gwenaël Grisi (in residence from January 2018 to June 2019).