Since adopting a new artistic profile, The Hague Philharmonic is demonstrating more than ever that symphonic music can still be meaningful to large and diverse audiences in the 21st century. At the new Zuiderstrandtheater in Scheveningen, the orchestra’s home venue, prior to concerts audiences are treated to a lively RO-Starter pre-programme of live music and interviews. Special productions are also provided at The Hague’s Paard van Troje throughout the season, making the orchestra appealing to both students and young professionals as well. In addition, The Hague Philharmonic performs regularly at various other major concert halls at home and abroad.
Over the next few years, The Hague Philharmonic will be working with two principal conductors: Jan Willem de Vriend and the young Englishman Nicholas Collon (from summer 2016). Richard Egarr has been appointed principal guest conductor of the orchestra.
The Hague Philharmonic is renowned throughout The Hague and Leiden region. The orchestra takes part in many important high-profile events, including the annual Speech from the Throne, Festival Classique and, starting in 2017, the performance of Bach’s St Matthew Passion at St Peter’s Church in Leiden. During Christmas, New Year and Prince’s Day, the orchestra celebrates with people across the region by performing various special concerts. There are also many prolific collaborations with a wide range of local partners, including the Dutch National Theatre, Paard van Troje, Gemeentemuseum and The Hague African Festival, as well as with the Dutch National Opera and the NTR Saturday Matinee.
The Hague Philharmonic’s ambitions are spearheaded by a proactive education policy. Its educational projects involve over 31,000 contact moments with school children annually, which makes The Hague Philharmonic the driving force behind music education in the region. Numerous special activities have been developed for both primary and secondary schools, from school concerts and rehearsal visits to a refresher course for teachers and an intensive three-year music education programme for the city’s primary schools. The orchestra also regularly organises masterclasses and weekends for amateur musicians.
The Residents project is designed to provide primary school pupils in The Hague’s Schilderswijk, Transvaal, Escamp and Mariahoeve neighbourhoods with an opportunity to learn to play a musical instrument. Initiated by The Hague Philharmonic in 2011, the aim of the programme is to help build social cohesion within the city. The orchestra is actively involved in talent development as well through an intensive collaboration with the Royal Conservatoire, which includes the Orchestra Master Programme and joint projects with the Composition Department. Furthermore, The Hague Philharmonic is heavily involved with the Dutch National Opera Academy and the National Master Programme in Orchestral Conducting.
In the early years, The Hague Philharmonic was conducted by Henri Viotta, who founded the orchestra in 1904. The orchestra soon attracted composers like Richard Strauss, Igor Stravinsky, Max Reger, Maurice Ravel, Paul Hindemith and Vincent d’Indy. Guest conductors included Arturo Toscanini, Bruno Walter, Leonard Bernstein and Hans Knappertsbusch. After World War II, Willem van Otterloo was appointed chief conductor. He led the orchestra from 1949 to 1973 and built a strong reputation by combining high-quality performances with adventurous programming. After Van Otterloo, the chief conductor mantle passed to Jean Martinon, followed by Ferdinand Leitner, Hans Vonk, Evgenii Svetlanov, Jaap van Zweden and Neeme Järvi.