Russian National Orchestra

About the Orchestra

About

Short Form Biography

The Russian National Orchestra was founded in 1990 by pianist and conductor Mikhail Pletnev and today is widely recognized as one of the world’s top orchestras.  Of its debut at the BBC Proms in London, the Evening Standard wrote, "They played with such captivating beauty that the audience gave an involuntary sigh of pleasure."  The RNO is also described as "a living symbol of the best in Russian art" (Miami Herald), "as close to perfect as one could hope for" (Trinity Mirror), and "astoundingly virtuosic" (Glasgow Herald).

The first Russian orchestra to perform at the Vatican and in Israel, the RNO maintains an active international tour schedule, appearing throughout Europe, Asia and the Americas.  The RNO is a frequent visitor to major festivals  such as Edinburgh, Shanghai  and the BBC Proms.  The orchestra presents its own RNO Grand Festival  each September to open the Moscow season, and is the founding orchestra of Festival Napa Valley, held every July in California’s Napa Valley. 

RNO concerts are regularly aired on National Public Radio in the United States, the European Broadcasting Union, and Russia’s Kultura channel. The orchestra’s critically acclaimed discography, launched with a 1991 CD cited as the best recording of Tchaikovsky's Pathétique in history, now numbers  more than 80 recordings on Deutsche Grammophon, Pentatone and other prestigious labels. Notable releases include the complete Beethoven symphonies and piano concertos on Deutsche Grammophon and Tchaikovsky’s six symphonies for Pentatone.  The orchestra’s Shostakovich project, also on Pentatone, has been cited as “the most exciting cycle of the Shostakovich symphonies to be put down on disc, and easily the best recorded” (SACD.net). 

The RNO's recording of Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf and Beintus's Wolf Tracks, conducted by Kent Nagano and narrated by Sophia Loren, Bill Clinton and Mikhail Gorbachev, received a 2004 Grammy Award, making the RNO the first Russian orchestra to win the recording industry's highest honor.   The orchestra’s recording of Shostakovich's Symphony No. 7, conducted by Paavo Järvi, was awarded the prestigious Diapason d’Or de l’Année 2015 as the year's best symphonic album, and nominated for a 2016 Grammy award.

The RNO is unique among the principal Russian ensembles as a private institution funded with the support of individuals, corporations and foundations in Russia and throughout the world. In recognition of its artistry and path-breaking structure, the RNO was the first non-governmental orchestra to receive grant support from the Russian Federation.