The Sinfonieorchester Basel (Basel Symphony Orchestra) is one of Switzerland's major orchestras and appears both in concert and at the opera house. The orchestra was formed in 1997 from the merger of two prior ensembles, the Basler Sinfonie-Orchester (Basel Symphony Orchestra) and the Radio-Sinfonieorchester Basel (Radio Symphony Orchestra Basel).
For decades the orchestra has produced a wide array of highlights under the batons of such conductors as Felix Weingartner, Hans Münch, Moshe Atzmon, Matthias Bamert, Gary Bertini, Pierre Boulez, Armin Jordan, Nello Santi, Mario Venzago and Walter Weller.
Mario Venzago was the first chief conductor of the newly formed ensemble, from 1997 to 2003. Marko Letonja succeeded Venzago as chief conductor from 2003 to 2006. In March 2008, the orchestra named the renowned American conductor and pianist Dennis Russell Davies its third chief conductor, as of the 2009-2010 season, with an initial contract of 5 years.
Today the Sinfonieorchester Basel numbers among Switzerland's leading musical ensembles, with some 100 highly qualified and highly motivated musicians. Its broad repertoire ranges effortlessly from the Viennese classics and to contemporary music. Whether in the concert hall or the opera house, at home or on its domestic and foreign tours, this internationally varied group of musicians constantly demonstrates its unique flexibility and artistic prowess.
The orchestra performs symphony concerts at the Musiksaal, Basel. The orchestra also serves as the opera orchestra and ballet orchestra for the Theater Basel. The orchestra receives funding from the half-cantons of Basel-Stadt and Basel-Landschaft.
The orchestra has recorded commercially for the Col Legno, CPO, Novalis and Ondine labels. Its CD recordings of the music of Robert Schumann, Maurice Ravel, Klaus Huber, Luigi Nono and Othmar Schoeck have received great international acclaim and many awards. 'A Different Schumann', for example, was awarded the Golden Tuning Fork from the German music industry.