Founded in 1989 by Sir John Eliot Gardiner, the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique (ORR) strives to provide bold new perspectives on the music of the 19th and early 20th centuries through its stylistic fidelity and intensity of expression.
Leader - Peter Hanson
The ORR has won plaudits internationally ever since its first concert, a performance of Beethoven’s Missa solemnis. It has maintained a strong reputation for its interpretation of the works of Beethoven, which it has performed extensively and recorded for Deutsche Grammophon in the 1990s. The orchestra has recently returned to this repertoire with successful tours of Beethoven symphonies and Missa solemnis in Europe and the USA, including a live recording of Missa solemnis by the company’s own record label, Soli Deo Gloria.
The ORR has also been acclaimed for its interpretations of major early Romantic composers, starting with Hector Berlioz. They performed and recorded his Symphonie fantastique in the hall of the old Paris Conservatoire, where the very first performance took place in 1830. In 1993, together with the Monteverdi Choir, the orchestra gave the first modern performances of the newly rediscovered Messe solennelle. They later joined forces to perform L’Enfance du Christ at the Proms as well as the first complete staged performances in Paris of Berlioz’s masterpiece Les Troyens, given at the Théâtre du Châtelet.
Other critically acclaimed initiatives have included a project entitled ‘Schumann Revealed’ given at the Barbican, including recordings of the complete Schumann symphonies and Das Paradies und die Peri. The ORR has performed operas by Weber (Oberon and Le Freyschütz), Bizet (Carmen), Chabrier (L’Etoile), Verdi (Falstaff) and Debussy (Pelléas et Mélisande) in new productions in France, Italy and London.
Since 2015, the ORR has again focused on Berlioz, performing his Symphonie fantastique at the BBC Proms, followed by performances of Lélio and Symphonie fantastique at the Edinburgh International Festival and Festival Berlioz. In 2016, the ORR returned to the Proms with Berlioz’s Roméo et Juliette (as part of Shakespeare 400), before touring a programme of Beethoven, Schubert and Brahms with acclaimed concert pianist Kristian Bezuidenhout. In 2017, the Orchestra once again returned to the music of Berlioz via performances of his monumental La damnation de Faust.
2018 saw a continued commitment to the music of Berlioz, with an extensive tour of his major symphonic works (including Harold in Italy, Lélio and Symphonie fantastique), the highlight of which was undoubtedly an appearance at the BBC Proms with star mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, amongst concerts in Europe and in the United States. As well as Berlioz, the ORR also gave several performances of Verdi’s Requiem with the Monteverdi Choir on a critically-acclaimed European tour.
The ORR’s Berlioz celebrations culminated in 2019, marking the 150th anniversary of the composer’s death. In the summer, the orchestra was joined by the Monteverdi Choir and a cast of international soloists for a series of staged concerts of Berlioz’s first opera, Benvenuto Cellini, in what were the first contemporary performances of the work on period instruments.
The 2019/20 season marks 30 years since the founding of the ORR, as well as the 250th anniversary of the birth of Ludwig van Beethoven. In celebration of these twin milestones, the orchestra will embark on another momentous project, performing a cycle of all nine of the composer’s symphonies in residencies across Europe and the United States. The celebrations continue in September as the ORR unites with the Monteverdi Choir to perform Beethoven’s Missa solemnis at some of Europe’s most prestigious music festivals.
The Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique is under the patronage of HRH The Prince of Wales.