The Jena Philharmonic Orchestra is an indispensable presence in the cultural life of the city of Jena and Free State of Thuringia. In addition to its regional quality as Thuringia’s largest and exclusive philharmonic orchestra, the Jena Philharmonic Orchestra is also recognised as a flagship ensemble both at home and abroad. As such, it is an obvious partner for prominent soloists and guest conductors from around the world.
Standout projects — including a critically acclaimed nationwide Mahler-Scartazzini cycle and “DER KLANG VON JENA” (“The Sound of Jena”), popular theme days featuring different concert formats — reflect a young and dedicated orchestra constantly on the move. The Jena Philharmonic Orchestra actively engages with its city and is committed to music education and reaching new audiences. Its concert series include performances at local venues such as Volksbad, a performing arts space; Kassablanca, a club; Trafo, a former transformer substation converted into a contemporary arts space; and at different University of Jena locations. The orchestra also appears in ArenaOuvertüre, an annual open-air concert at the Lobeda-West fairground.Read More
From 1999 to 2002, for three years in a row, the Jena Philharmonic Orchestra was recognised with the “Best Concert Programme of the Season” award by the German Music Publishers’ Association. In 2017, it was one of six German ensembles selected by the German Federal Government to receive funding through the “Excellent German Orchestras” scheme. Since Autumn 2005, the Jena Philharmonic Orchestra has been a member of Orchestra Network for Europe (ONE®), co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union. Concert tours have taken the Jena Philharmonic Orchestra to Frankfurt’s Alte Oper, Cologne’s Philharmonie, Berlin’s Konzerthaus, Zurich’s Tonhalle and Paris’ Radio France (as a guest of the “Printemps Musical” festival), as well as to Italy, Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia and Armenia. In December 2018 and January 2019, the Jena Philharmonic Orchestra embarked on a major China tour; the 2019-2020 season featured concerts in Switzerland’s prominent concert halls, at Konzerthaus Freiburg and at the Gustav Mahler Music Weeks in Toblach. The orchestra’s numerous CD recordings attest to both its quality and versatility.
Founded as the Jena Symphony Orchestra over eighty years ago, the Jena Philharmonic Orchestra assumed its current name on 21 September 1969. During the tenure of then-Chief Conductor Günter Blumhagen, who led the orchestra from 1967 to 1980, the number of musicians in the orchestra increased to 85. Blumhagen’s successors as the orchestra’s General Music Directors were Christian Ehwald (1981-88), Andreas S. Weiser (1990-98), Andrey Boreyko (1998-2004), Nicholas Milton (2004-11), and Marc Tardue (2011-17). Simon Gaudenz has led the Jena Philharmonic Orchestra as its General Music Director since the 2018-19 season.
The Jena Philharmonic Orchestra resides in Jena’s Volkshaus, built in 1903 and home to a magnificent Great Hall, where 14 subscription concerts and numerous special concerts are performed each season. Choral works feature prominently in the orchestra’s repertoire through collaborations with its affiliated choirs: the Philharmonic Choir, Madrigal Choir and Boys’ Choir.
For over 50 years, the University of Music FRANZ LISZT Weimar has also been an important cooperation partner of the orchestra through the International Weimar Master Classes, which takes place every summer.
With the support of the Jena Philharmonic Society, the Jena Philharmonic Orchestra plays an active role in the “MUSIK macht schlau.” (“Music Makes You Smart”) network, which brings classical music to children and young people in Jena and its neighbouring counties.
In addition, the Jena Philharmonic Orchestra is known for a wide range of chamber music activities featuring its own musicians; numerous chamber music ensembles complement and enrich the orchestra’s concert series with their programmes.