The Turku Philharmonic Orchestra is the oldest orchestra in Finland. Founded in 1790, the orchestra played Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven while the composers were still alive.
In 1927 the orchestra was municipalized. At that time it had 27 members. Today the number of the members is 73, which makes the Turku Philharmonic Orchestra the fourth largest orchestra in Finland.
At present, the Turku Philharmonic Orchestra has no permanent conductor, but from autumn 1995 the orchestra has a contract with Ralf Gothóni to act as a principal guest conductor and soloist until 1997. Ralf Gothóni (Gilmore Prize in 1995) conducts 4-5 concerts each year.
The main programme of the orchestra usually consists of 18 symphony concerts in a year. Each concert is performed twice. On Saturdays the orchestra performs a series of chamber music concerts. A Christmas concert, a Labour Day concert and a Good Friday sacred concert are also parts of the annual programme. In addition to these performances, the orchestra tours the province and gives concerts for children, students and pensioners.
Each year, the orchestra takes part in an opera production in co-operation with the Turku City Theatre and the Turku Opera Association as well as taking part in opera galas accompaning soloists such as José Carreras, Placido Domingo and Kiri Te Kanawa. The orchestra plays at various festivities arranged by the City of Turku, and has also performed on such occasions as the Pori Jazz Festival and Ruisrock, an annual rock festival held in Turku.
In 1972 the Turku Philharmonic Orchestra made its first tour abroad, to Tallinn, Estonia. Since then there have been seven other tours. The latest was to St. Petersburg, Russia in the summer of 1995.
The Turku Philharmonic Orchestra has recorded seven CDs. In September 1995 it became the first Finnish orchestra to record Finnish orchestra music for the Naxos label. In a short period of time the record sold over 30,000 copies.
At home, the Turku Philharmonic Orchestra performs in the Concert Hall, designed by architect Risto Luukkonen, which has 1002 seats and was built in1952.