The Rousse Philharmonic Orchestra
The Rousse Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1919 as a successor to the traditions of the symphonic work in Rousse after the Liberation. The first concert of the Rousse Urban Philharmonic Orchestra took place on March 2nd, 1919. In the first 30 years of its existence, the orchestra underwent many metamorphoses, according to its funding opportunities and participations in various structures such as the Lyra Society and Opera Society. In 1947 the orchestra was nationalized and on January 4, 1948, performed its first concert as State Symphony Orchestra – Rousse under the conducting of Konstantin Iliev.
Two years after its founding in 1950 in Rousse The Rousse Symphony Orchestra starts to work the conductor Dobrin Petkov.
Born in Rousse Sasha Popov – a virtuoso violinist, conductor and creator of the Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra – returned to his hometown in 1959 and started working with the Rousse Symphony Orchestra. In 1960 Sasha Popov became the first Chief Conductor of the Rousse Philharmonic. The 1960 Dunavski zvutsi (The Sounds of Danube Choir), a musical choir, performed as a philharmonic chorale and played dozens of concerts with the Rousse Philharmonic Orchestra.
In its creative way the Rousse Philharmonic Orchestra has gained a rich repertoire – classic and modern. The premieres of national importance are a tradition. A number of works by Shostakovich, Prokofiev, G. Kanchelli, Hindemith, R. Strauss, P. Hadjiev, K. Iliev, Kr. Kyurkchiyski, Lazar Nikolov, Vassil Kazanjiev, A. Vladigerov, E. Tabakov, Jenkins, Charpentier are performed for the first time in Bulgaria. Over the past 50 years, the orchestra has worked with the best Bulgarian conductors as well as with a number of prominent foreign artists such as: Kurt Mazur, Carlo Tseki, Dmitry Kitayenko, Kurt Sanderling, Evgeny Svetlanov, Valery Gergiev and others and the soloists: Sviatoslav Richter, Rudolf Kerer, I. Oistrakh, Leonid Kogan, R. Ritchie, Vladimir Spivakov, Franco Petraki, Yuri Bashmet, Robert Cohen , as well as the world-famous names of many Bulgarian instrumentalists.
One of the most memorable events in the orchestra’s history is its collaboration with Dmitry Shostakovich and the premiere of his Second piano concert in 1958.
The orchestra is the initiator and host of the International Festival March Music Days, The Winter Music Evenings Festival and the Festival Stage by the River. The musicians participated in prestigious national and international festivals: Sofia Music Weeks, New Bulgarian Music, Varna Summer Fest, Musical Weeks-Siena, Italy, where the orchestra worked from 1984 to 1991 with famous musicians such as Franco Ferrara, Carlo Maria Giulini, Katia Ricciarelli, Boris Belkin, Yuri Bashmet and others. From the end of the 90’s until today, the Rousse Philharmonic Orchestra is an annual guest at one of the biggest symphonic and choral music festivals in France.
In the history of Rousse Symphony Orchestra the bulgarian conductors record their names with world recognition Ilia Temkov, Russlan Raychev, Alexander Vladigerov, Alipi Naydenov, Emil Tabakov, Georgi Dimitrov, Nayden Todorov, Yordan Kamdzhalov.
The Orchestra has a number of international tours, moving to high art level in Germany, Poland, Austria, Switzerland, Italy and France, Belgium, Spain, Portugal and others. It has recordings in the Golden Fund of the Bulgarian National Radio, Bulgarian National Television and Berlin Radio, as well as gramophone records and CDs for various companies in Europe and the United States.
After merging with the State Opera – Rousse in 1999, the ensemble performs its new tasks of opera – symphony orchestra with its inherent high artistic level. It also has a rich opera repertoire: Nabucco, Il Trovatrore, Otello, La Traviata, Un ballo in maschera, Rigoletto by Verdi; Puccini – Tosca, Turandot; Bizet – Carmen; Bellini – Norma; Donizetti – Don Pasquale and many others. It has been a great success at the opera festivals of the Rhodes, Greece – 2001, 2002; on Palma de Mallorca, Spain – 2001 and 2002; at the “Classic Open Air” in Solothurn, Switzerland – 2008-2013. In 2003, the orchestra was awarded the Crystal Lyre Award for the opening of the “March Music Days” festival and the concluding concert with works by Stravinsky. In 2014, the Rousse Philharmonic repeats its great success, receiving Crystal Lyre for the first performance in Bulgaria of the “Armed Man” by Karl Jenkins.
In 2015, the Rousse Philharmonic Orchestra, as the Rousse State – Opera Orchestra, receives one of the most prestigious awards in its history – Ensemble of the Year Award.