The Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia was the first orchestra in Italy to devote itself exclusively to the symphonic repertoire, giving premieres of major contemporary masterpieces, such as Respighi’s Fountains of Rome and Pines of Rome, Henze’s Opfergang, Pärt’s Cecilia, vergine romana, Dubugnon’s Caprice Romain and Sciarrino’s Euridice secondo Rilke.
Founded in 1908, the Orchestra has been conducted by some of the major musical figures of the 20th century: from Mahler, Debussy, Saint-Saëns, Strauss, Stravinsky, Sibelius, Hindemith, Toscanini, Furtwängler, De Sabata, Karajan and Abbado to the most impressive performers of our day including Muti, Gergiev, Thielemann, Dudamel, Temirkanov while Bernardino Molinari, Franco Ferrara, Fernando Previtali, Igor Markevitch, Thomas Schippers, Giuseppe Sinopoli, Daniele Gatti, and Myung-Whun Chung have been its Music Directors.
Leonard Bernstein was Honorary President from 1983 to 1990.
With Sir Antonio Pappano in the role of Music Director since 2005, the stature of the Orchestra has enjoyed extraordinary success, building an international reputation for itself. With Pappano at the helm, the Orchestra has appeared at some of the major music festivals including the Proms in London, White Nights in St. Petersburg, Lucerne Festival, Salzburg Festival and has performed in some of the most world’s best-known venues, including the Philharmonie in Berlin, Musikverein and Konzerthaus in Vienna, Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Royal Albert Hall in London, Salle Pleyel and Philharmonie in Paris, La Scala in Milan, Suntory Hall in Tokyo, Carnegie Hall in New York, Semperoper in Dresden.
After long-term collaboration with some of the biggest international record labels who have produced recordings that have since become legendary, Santa Cecilia Orchestra records extensively for Warner Classic. The releases, under Pappano, include Puccini’s Madama Butterfly (with Angela Gheorghiu; the recording won a Brit Classical Award), Verdi’s Requiem (Gramophone Award, BBC Music Magazine Award, Brit Classical Award), Rossini’s and Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater with Anna Netrebko (Gramophone Editors’ Choice Award), Rossini’s William Tell, Britten’s War Requiem, Mahler’s Symphony no. 6, Verdi’s Aida boasts a stellar cast (Anja Harteros, Jonas Kaufmann, Erwin Schrott) and has taken home numerous awards: Echo-Klassik-Award 2016, best Recording 2015 for The New York Times and for The Telegraph, Best opera 2015 – Apple Music, Choc Classica de l’année, Diapason D’or and Choix de France Musique, Record of the month for Gramophone. Antonio Pappano and the Orchestra also recorded Nessun Dorma, The Puccini Album with tenor Jonas Kaufmann (Best Classical Music Recordings of 2015 for The New York Times), which made the world charts, Anna Netrebko’s Verismo (DG) and Saint-Saëns’ Symphony No. 3 and The Carnival of the Animals with Martha Argerich.