The Radio Philharmonic Orchestra performs with leading conductors, regularly plays premieres and can frequently be heard as a broadcast orchestra in the concert series on NPO Radio 4. The Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra has been a unique orchestra in The Netherlands since 1945.
The Radio Philharmonic Orchestra (RFO) is in the service of Dutch Public Broadcasting and features prominently in the broadcasting series AVROTROS Vrijdagconcert, NTR ZaterdagMatinee and Het Zondagochtend Concert. The orchestra distinguishes itself by special programmed symphonic concerts, often characterised by first performances in the Netherlands and world premieres. For this indispensable role in Dutch musical life, the Radio Philharmonic Orchestra was rewarded with the Edison Oeuvre Award in 2014. In September 2017, the orchestra, together with the Groot Omroepkoor, received the Concertgebouw Prize for the important contribution they have made to the artistic profile of the Amsterdam concert hall over an extended period.
After the Second World War, the broadcasting associations were given the task of putting together an orchestral apparatus for the radio. So it was that in 1945 the Radio Philharmonic Orchestra (from 1956 Radio Philharmonic) was founded by Albert van Raalte. He also became the first chief conductor of the orchestra. In the early years, the RFO played almost exclusively in the studio, but gradually more and more live performances in concert halls were added. Most of these take place in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw and TivoliVredenburg in Utrecht. The orchestra can also regularly be heard together with the Groot Omroepkoor. An extensive historiography can be found here.
The list of chief conductors of the RFO is impressive. After Van Raalte, the orchestra was conducted successively by Paul van Kempen, Bernard Haitink, Jean Fournet, Willem van Otterloo, Hans Vonk, Sergiu Comissiona, Edo de Waart (honorary conductor), Jaap van Zweden (honorary chief conductor) and Markus Stenz. Some famous guest conductors of the past and present are Antal Doráti, Mariss Jansons, Riccardo Muti, Kurt Masur, Valery Gergiev and James Gaffigan, who is a permanent guest conductor.
Since the start of the 2019-2020 season, Karina Canellakis has been chief conductor of the RFO. Her exceptional debut with the orchestra in March 2018 left no doubt about asking her to be chief conductor. Canellakis is known for the spontaneity and depth she brings to music and the orchestral beauty and perfection of her concerts.
She speaks highly of the orchestra, as during an interview in October 2019 for the NOS Radio 1 news: "What is really special about them is their versatility, because they can play literally anything, from Bach to contemporary composers. Moreover, they treat everything with the same seriousness, combined with a completely open mind, so that you can shape each piece exactly as you, the conductor, would like. That is very rare."
Bernard Haitink was appointed patron of the RFO in 2012. After the announcement of the budget cuts by cabinet Rutte I, Haitink strongly pleaded for the preservation of the broadcasting ensembles.