The Bienne Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1969, when it was known as the Société d’orchestre de Bienne. From its very first concerts under the direction of conductor Jost Meier, it has won enthusiastic responses from its audiences. The orchestra presents symphonic concerts, and specializes in playing Viennese Classical and early Romantic repertoire, often on period instruments. With musicians in training who come from all parts of Switzerland, the Bienne Symphony Orchestra also offers programs for children, families, and seniors, as well as open-air concerts. The orchestra’s regular collaborations in the operatic world with the Théâtre Bienne Soleure, and with choirs in and around the city of Bienne, testify to its artistic flexibility. The orchestra’s chief conductors have been Jost Meier, Ivan Anguélov, Grzegorz Nowak, Marc Tardue, Hans Urbanek, and, since the summer of 2005, Thomas Rösner. It has welcomed many guest conductors of international renown, including Marcello Viotti, Armin Jordan, Heinz Holliger,Milan Horvat,Michel Corboz, JunMärkl, and Fabrizio Ventura.
The orchestra is often invited to play outside Switzerland. In 2008, it traveled to Austria for the Carinthian SummerMusic Festival. For years, the orchestra has helped promising musicians participate in the Ernest Ansermet Conducting Competition, and has accompanied young virtuosos in the Tibor Varga International Violin Competition. In 2009, when the orchestra celebrates its 40th birthday, it will perform at, among other venues, the KKL (Culture and Congress Center) in Lucerne, at Musikfestival Bern, and in Fribourg, Olten, and Delémont. It is also planning a nationwide composition competition.