Philadelphia Orchestra, The


Founded in 1900, The Philadelphia Orchestra has distinguished itself as one of the leading orchestras in the world through a century of acclaimed performances, historic international tours, best-selling recordings, and its unprecedented record of innovation in recording technologies and outreach. With only six music directors piloting The Philadelphia Orchestra through its first century, the ensemble has maintained an unparalleled cohesiveness and unity in artistic leadership.

This rich tradition is carried on by Christoph Eschenbach, who began his tenure as the Orchestra's seventh music director in September 2003. As Mr. Eschenbach and the Orchestra inaugurate a new era in the ensemble's esteemed history, the Orchestra has announced the launch of the public phase of a five-year, $125 million endowment campaign, entitled A Sound, A City, A Civilization. Commitments to the campaign include a lead gift of $50 million from the Annenberg Foundation, along with other major leadership gifts that have allowed the Orchestra to raise the original campaign goal from $75 million to $125 million.

In addition to Mr. Eschenbach's appointment as music director, the Orchestra has observed several important milestones in recent years. The Orchestra's 2002-2003 season celebrated Wolfgang Sawallisch's ten highly acclaimed years at the Orchestra's helm and paid tribute to his artistic achievements with the release of a Grammy-nominated three-disc set of Schumann recordings, the first recordings made in Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. The Orchestra moved to its new home at The Kimmel Center in December 2001, after celebrating its 100th Anniversary through a series of activities surrounding the year 2000, including the internationally televised gala Birthday Concert on November 16, 2000, a tour of Europe in 2000, and tours of Asia and the United States in 2001. A tour in the spring of 2003 took the Orchestra to nine cities in the United States, Mexico, and South America. Christoph Eschenbach and the Orchestra will cap their first full season together with a tour of the music capitals of Europe in the spring of 2004.

The Philadelphia Orchestra annually touches the lives of more than 1 million music lovers worldwide through its performances (more than 300 concerts and other presentations each year), publications, recordings, and broadcasts. A major winter subscription season is presented in Philadelphia each year from September to May, in addition to education and community partnership programs. The Orchestra presents a series of concerts each year at New York's Carnegie Hall, performing encores of some of its acclaimed concerts from Philadelphia. Its summer schedule includes a month-long outdoor season in Philadelphia at The Mann Center for the Performing Arts, free concerts in local neighborhoods, and a three-week residency each August at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in upstate New York.

The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts hosts the Orchestra's home subscription concerts. The Center includes two performance spaces, the 2500-seat Verizon Hall, designed and built especially for the Orchestra, and the 650-seat Perelman Theater for chamber music concerts. Designed by architect Rafael Viñoly along with acoustician Russell Johnson of Artec Consultants Inc., the Kimmel Center provides the Orchestra with a state-of-the-art facility for concerts, recordings, and education activities. The landmark building is named in honor of Philadelphia businessman and philanthropist Sidney Kimmel, who gave the largest individual gift toward its construction. Kimmel has served on the Board of Directors of The Philadelphia Orchestra since 1995.

The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts (KCPA) and the historic Academy of Music (where the Orchestra performed for 101 seasons) are operated together as a single cultural facility by Kimmel Center, Inc. (KCI). A variety of Philadelphia's other performing arts groups serve as resident companies for the two buildings. KCI owns, manages, supports, and maintains the KCPA. Kimmel Center, Inc., also manages the Academy of Music, owned by The Philadelphia Orchestra Association since 1957, and where the Orchestra continues to present the highly anticipated annual Academy Anniversary Concert and Ball.

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