The London Symphony Orchestra, or LSO, is an independent orchestra - at its formation the UK's first. It is, in fact, a limited company, managed and owned by the orchestra's members.
Founded in 1904, the orchestra boasts a long line of distinguished conductors. Beginning with Hans Richter, the orchestra has played under the baton of Sir Thomas Beecham, Pierre Monteux and Claudio Abbado. Currently, Sir Colin Davis is Principal Conductor, taking on the role in 1995.
A top-quality conductor is essential, as are top-quality players. The orchestra operates a joint Principal scheme, similar to a jobshare, which allows quality musicians to work with the LSO whilst maintaining solo or chamber orchestra careers. The LSO also welcomes a wide range of guest musicians, including Nathan Gunn, Piotr Anderszewski and Maxim Vengerov.
The London Symphony Orchestra has, over the years, attracted high regard from both British and overseas admirers. It became the first British orchestra to travel abroad, visiting Paris in 1906, America (1912), Israel (1960) and Japan in 1963. In 1966 the orchestra was invited to take up a residency at the Florida International Festival, and seven years later was invited to appear at the Salzburg Festival.
As a limited company, the LSO partially supports itself with its own CD label: LSO Live. This label provides an opportunity for the orchestra to release exclusive recordings of their performances.
The LSO currently enjoys residency at the Barbican Centre in London. Refurbished in 2001, the Barbican is widely considered to be the finest symphony hall in London. March 2003 saw the opening of LSO St. Luke's, a centre of education housed in a converted church. This provides a centre for the orchestra's LSO Discovery programme.