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 masterpieces of the 1900, such as Respighi’s Fountains of Rome and Pines of Rome. 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 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, Semperoper in Dresden, Carnegie Hall in New York, Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires.
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 Award), Verdi’s Requiem (Gramophone Award, BBC Music Magazine, Brit Classical), Rossini’s and Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater with Anna Netrebko (Gramophone Editors’ Choice Award), Rossini’s William Tell, Mahler’s Symphony no.6, Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle, Verdi’s Quattro pezzi sacri, Britten’s War Requiem, and a CD entitled Rossini Overtures. Verdi’s Aida boasts a stellar cast (Anja Harteros, Jonas Kaufmann, Erwin Schrott) and has taken home numerous awards: 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, Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik, Echo Klassik in the category “Conductor of the Year”. A CD also came out in 2015, with Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto no. 1 and Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto no. 2 performed by Beatrice Rana, Brahms’s Violin Concerto with Janine Jansen (Decca) and Schumann’s Piano Concerto performed by Jan Lisiecki (DG). 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, Schumann’s Symphonies no. 2 and no. 4, Elgar’s Symphony no. 1 (ICA Classics), the CD Anna Netrebko. Verismo (DG) and Saint-Saëns’ Third Symphony and Le Carnaval des Animaux with Martha Argerich (Warner Classics 2017) and Bernstein’s complete Symphonies nos. 1- 3. In 2020 Verdi:Otello with Jonas Kaufmann (Sony) and Donizetti’s Tudor Queens with Diana Damrau and Strauss Ein Heldenleben/Burleske with Bertrand Chamayou have been published.