Ulster Orchestra

One of Northern Ireland’s finest cultural assets

Based in Belfast, the Ulster Orchestra was formed in 1966 and has established itself as one of the major symphony orchestras in the United Kingdom. The Ulster Orchestra is one of Northern Ireland’s finest cultural assets with its annual concert season in Belfast’s Ulster and Waterfront Halls.

Its participation in the Belfast Festival at Queen’s, regional performances across the country, accompaniment to opera and ballet productions and its extensive education and outreach work was recognised a few years ago by an award from the Royal Philharmonic Society.

The Swiss conductor Thierry Fischer succeeded Dmitry Sitkovetsky as Principal Conductor and Artistic Adviser in 2001. He follows a list of distinguished artists who have previously held the post including Bryden Thomson, Vernon Handley and Yan Pascal Tortelier. Takuo Yuasa is the Orchestra’s current Principal Guest Conductor and Vernon Handley it’s newly appointed Conductor Laureate. A distinguished roster of conductors and soloists, ranging from Vladimir Spivakov and Christian Lindberg to Louis Lortie and Libor Pesek also work with the Orchestra throughout its regular concert season.

The Ulster Orchestra has made more than 60 recordings, notably for Chandos, Naxos, Hyperion and BMG and several of its CDs have won prestigious British awards. The Orchestra has a unique relationship with the BBC, its exclusive broadcast partner, which results in special recordings and performance relays on BBC Radio 3, Radio Ulster and BBC TV. This output has considerably enhanced the Orchestra’s international reputation.

Tours of Europe, Asia and the USA have also increased the Ulster Orchestra’s international profile. In September 2001 the Ulster Orchestra travelled to New York to launch the UKwithNY Festival and in the same month toured the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia.

Further reading:
Orchestra in the Community: West Belfast and the Ulster Orchestra (1999) by Tom Hartley; In Conjunction with the British Broadcast Corporation, Ulster Hall, Belfast, March 13 (1938) by Harlold Holt; History of the Orchestra (1979) by Arts Council of Northern Ireland.