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The summer of 2003 saw the birth of the LUCERNE FESTIVAL ORCHESTRA, which was founded by the Italian conductor Claudio Abbado and by the Festival’s Executive and Artistic Director Michael Haefliger. In this way they established a link with the legendary “elite orchestra” for which Arturo Toscanini assembled acclaimed virtuosos of his time to create a magnificent ensemble, introducing it in a “Concert de Gala” in 1938, the year of the Festival’s founding. Abbado served as Music Director of the LUCERNE FESTIVAL ORCHESTRA up until his death in January 2014. Riccardo Chailly, who was appointed as his successor, inaugurated his tenure as the new Music Director in the summer of 2016 with two performances of Mah-ler’s Eighth Symphony, thus concluding the Mahler cycle that Abbado had been unable to finish. The orchestra comprises internationally acclaimed principals, chamber musicians, and music teachers, as well as members of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and the Filarmonica della Scala. For the 2018 Summer Festival, Chailly will prepare three different programs with them in which the focus is on Igor Stravinsky, Maurice Ravel, and Anton Bruckner. Many of the LUCERNE FESTIVAL ORCHESTRA’s performances over the last decade have been broadcast on television and then released on DVD or CD; these have garnered such awards as the Diapason d’or, the BBC Music Magazine Award, and the International Classical Music Award. Their most-recent production, which appeared in June 2018, is a DVD of Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Tchaikovsky’s Manfred Symphony. The LUCERNE FESTIVAL ORCHESTRA has previously toured to many of the musical metropolises in Europe, as well as to New York, Tokyo, and Beijing. In the fall of 2018 they plan a tour to La Scala in Milan and a residency in Shanghai, China.
The LUCERNE FESTIVAL ORCHESTRA has played annually at LUCERNE FESTIVAL ever since its first performances in the summer of 2003.