The Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della Rai was created in 1994 from the unification of the public radio orchestras of Turin, Rome, Milan and Naples, becoming one of the most prestigious musical ensembles in Italy. Its first concerts were conducted by Georges Prêtre and Giuseppe Sinopoli, who were followed by Jeffrey Tate, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Eliahu Inbal, and Gianandrea Noseda.
Since November 2009 Juraj Valčuha has been the Orchestra’s Principal Conductor.
James Conlon will be its new Principal Conductor from October 2016.
Other important guest conductors include Carlo Maria Giulini, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Mstislav Rostropovič, Myung-Whun Chung, Riccardo Chailly, Lorin Maazel, Zubin Mehta, Yuri Ahronovitch, Marek Janowski, Semyon Bychkov, Dmitrij Kitaenko, Aleksandr Lazarev, Valery Gergiev, Gerd Albrecht, Yutaka Sado, Mikko Franck, Roberto Abbado and Kirill Petrenko.
Thanks to its concerts being broadcasted on radio (Radio3) and television (Rai1, Rai3 and Rai5), the OSN Rai has contributed to the diffusion of the great symphonic repertoire as well as the historic and contemporary avant-garde, with commissions and premieres that have won the Orchestra acclaim from artistic, editorial and recording industries. Particularly noteworthy is Rai NuovaMusica, a contemporary music festival created in 2004.
The orchestra holds regular concert seasons and special concerts in Turin (Italy) and is often invited at important festivals such as MITO SettembreMusica, the Biennale di Venezia, the Ravenna Festival, and the Sagra Malatestiana di Rimini. Among its official engagements is the Christmas Concert in Assisi, broadcasted worldwide, and celebrations for the Italian Republic Day.
The Orchestra has numerous prestigious engagements worldwide: besides its international tours (Japan, England, Ireland, France, Spain, Canary, South America, Greece), and an invitation in 2006 to the Salzburg Festival and to Berlin’s Philharmonie to celebrate Hans Werner Henze’s eightieth birthday, more recent years have seen the Orchestra performing at the Abu Dhabi Classics Festival in the United Arab Emirates in 2011, and in concert tours in Germany, Austria and Slovakia, including the Orchestra’s debut at the Musikverein in Vienna, conducted by Juraj Valčuha. The Orchestra also made its debuts at the RadiRO Festival in 2012 and at the Enescu Festival in Bucharest in 2013. It held concert tours in Germany and Switzerland in the fall of 2014 and in Russia in October 2015.
The OSN took part in the production of the operatic film Rigoletto a Mantova, conducted by Zubin Mehta, and directed by Marco Bellocchio, and Cenerentola, una favola in diretta, live broadcasted worldwide on Rai1. The orchestra is also involved in the recording of themes and soundtracks for several Rai television programmes. Its live concerts are often released on CD and DVD.