The Norrköping Symphony Orchestra (= SON), was founded in 1912 and today comprises of 87 musicians. Norrköping, which is 170 kilometres southwest of Stockholm, was in October 1996 officially proclaimed as the Cultural City of the Year.
As the flagship of Norrköping, the symphony orchestra is central to the region's cultural life. In Norrköping, SON has a large and faithful audience that fills the Louis De Geer concert hall every week. Thanks to its extensive production of CDs in combination with tours outside the borders of Sweden, the international market holds the SON in high esteem. In addition to concerts in Norrköping, the SON appears regularly throughout the year in the Linköping Concert House and makes appearances each season in Stockholm, as well as the other major cities in Sweden and Scandinavia. Over the years many new works have received their premières in Norrköping, and have subsequently been recorded for CD. The SON is also renowned for its spectacular performances together with jazz musicians, rock musicians, folk musicians, dancers, and actors.
SON tours regularly throughout Sweden and has on many occasions given concerts in Oslo and Copenhagen. In 1989 and 1991, SON participated in the Bruckner Festival in Linz in Austria. On one occasion the orchestra performed before an audience of 100,000 people along the banks of the Danube, during a performance of Carmina Burana. In September 1994, SON participated in a three week tour of Japan with concerts in ten Japanese cities and direct broadcasts on radio and television from Tokyo. No other Scandinavian orchestra has made such an extensive tour of Japan. In January of 2000, SON gave concerts in Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and in Vienna's Musikverein. In October 2002 SON was in China to participate in the Beijing Music Festival, as the only foreign orchestra besides The New York Philharmonic, and also gave a concert in Guangzhou, in south of China.
Among the former Principal conductors in SONīs history, we can mention in particular Heinz Freudenthal 1936-1952, Herbert Blomstedt 1954-1062, Everett Lee 1962-1972, Franz Welser-Möst 1986-91, Junichi Hirokami 1991-1996, Ole Kristian Ruud 1996-1999, and from the beginning of the 1999-2000 season, LŸ Jia. As First Guest Conductor, SON has had such prominent names as Leif Segerstam 1995-1997, and since 1997, Daniel Harding.
Other notable guest conductors include Herbert Blomstedt, Joseph Swensen, Heinrich Schiff, Andrew Litton, James Judd, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Sixten Ehrling, Paavo Järvi, Yuzo Toyama, Roy Goodman, and Okko Kamu. Soloists Many of the worldīs most prominent artists have stood upon the stage with the SON. The violinist Anne Sofie Mutter has twice guested with SON. Others that can be named are the violinist Maxim Vengerov, trombonist Christian Lindberg, cellist Mischa Maisky, pianist Olli Mustonen, trumpeter Håkan Hardenberger and singers Anne Sofie von Otter, Barbara Hendricks, Barbara Bonney, Gösta Winbergh and Håkan Hagegård, to name but a few.
The SON is noted for performing a wide and varied repertoire. Recently, the influence of SONīs Asiatic chief conductors can be seen in the addition of Japanese and Chinese composers to the program. Through the years, SON has developed a reputation for being a progressive and forward-looking orchestra. Critically acclaimed recordings of symphonic music of Allan Pettersson, Hans Rott, and Max Reger under the direction of Leif Segerstam, as well as a cycle of Ture Rangströmīs symphonies under the direction of Michail Jurowski, have substantiated this reputation. While the emphasis of the repertoire of the SON remains focused upon the great romantic masters from L.v. Beethoven to Gustav Mahler, 20th century classical and contemporary music are also a regular feature of each season.
SON has a concert schedule of approximately 50 productions each year, of which many are performed several times, both in Norrköping and throughout the region In addition to the standard repertoire, and its commitment to new works, SON also bears a strong commitment to children and youth in the community. Every year between 15,000 and 20,000 school-aged children attend special school concerts designed to appeal and educate the younger audience. Popular concerts combined with well-known soloists also attract a large audience to SON's concerts. Another established tradition, which is one of the social highlights for Norrköping, is the Twelfth Night concert and ball.
Summer concerts are also very popular. Every year in August, one of Norrköpingīs many parks is filled to capacity with thousands of people enjoying the orchestra and eating their picnic lunches in the open air. As the cultural flagship of Norrköping, SON has a significant role to play in the Norrköping local governmentīs plans and projects. One such example was the councilīs production of "Sanna drömmar i kvarteret Oron," a multimedia happening in which several thousand Norrköping citizens participated. Here the orchestra played a central role; performing the music of Nielsen and Igor Stravinsky from a barge in the middle of the Motala watercourse.