Royal Flemish Philharmonic Orchestra, Martyn Brabbins, Belgium, 2010
Royal Flemish Philharmonic OrchestraRoyal Flemish Philharmonic OrchestraMartyn Brabbins

The Orchestra
Martyn Brabbins


In celebration of 40 years of diplomatic relations between Belgium and the People’s Republic of China, Wu Promotion, supported by the Belgian Embassy, is delighted to present the second Chinese tour of the Royal Flemish Philharmonic. From the 26th of December, the orchestra will appear in Beijing, Macao, Shenzhen,Guangzhou, Zhuhai, Zhongshan and Sihui, performing the works of Dvorák, Strauss Ⅰand Strauss Ⅱunder the baton of British conductor Martyn Brabbins. The tour will culminate with a special New Year appearance at the Forbidden City Concert Hall in Beijing on 5th January 2011, where they will open with Chinese composer Mr. Huanzhi Li Spring Festival Overture.

Royal Flemish Philharmonic

A Flemish government institution, the Royal Flemish Philharmonic brings the main orchestral repertoire to local and international concert halls. It occupies a unique position in the Flemish cultural landscape and reaches a number of target groups with productions that fit in the contemporary audience experience.

The orchestra has grown into an enthusiastic and dynamic quality ensemble that cherishes the classical masterpieces. This way the Royal Flemish Philharmonic is a symbol of the Flemish cultural policy. The orchestra attaches great value to its role within the community. It aims to be an institution that presents, produces and opens up the crucial orchestral repertoire to large audiences as well as specific target groups.

The Royal Flemish Philharmonic applies itself to the main orchestral repertoire of the past and the present. Every season, the Philharmonic attracts internationally renowned soloists and famous conductors as well as upcoming homegrown talent that want to enter the international playing field. Chief Conductor Jaap van Zweden and Principal Conductor Philippe Herreweghe guarantee that the Philharmonic continually improves itself artistically.

Unique position in Flanders

Thanks to its own series of concerts in large venues, the Royal Flemish Philharmonic occupies a unique position in Flanders. The orchestra has earned itself a recurring spot on the annual programmes of the Queen Elisabeth Hall and deSingel in home base Antwerp, where it also sporadically performs in De Roma and Our Lady’s Cathedral. The Centre for Fine Arts in Brussels, de Bijloke Muziekcentrum in Ghent and the Bruges Concertgebouw are familiar venues.



On tour

The Royal Flemish Philharmonic has also been a guest of some major foreign concert halls. International tours through Europe and Japan are a constant item in the yearly calendar.

The orchestra can also be heard locally at a variety of cultural institutions scattered all over Flanders. It also develops unique projects, like a yearly open air concert in the heart of Antwerp with free admission.


Alongside its regular concerts, the Philharmonic attaches great value to developing educational projects, such as the successful KIDconcerts and the educational ‘OORcolleges’, where the orchestra guides children and youngsters through the symphonic tonal universe. In collaboration with the publisher, Lannoo, the Philharmonic is currently developing a series of audio books with original orchestral narration for children.

The orchestra is also developing a variety of social projects, offering people from a diversity of cultures and with different social backgrounds the opportunity to get acquainted with the symphony orchestra from close quarters. In cooperation with the social assistance network OCMW, the Royal Flemish Philharmonic has created a special discount that allows the underprivileged to enjoy live symphonic music at a bargain price.

New media

The Royal Flemish Philharmonic also wants to position itself in the new media. On the orchestra’s interactive and informative website, images from rehearsals and exclusive interviews are being offered in video format. Interesting music files and live recordings are downloadable from the site.

The orchestra can also be heard on the classical radio station Klara and seen on television. Recently the Philharmonic closed a deal with the digital television station EURO1080 for several years, making a selection of concerts available in high definition for European viewers.


Several of the orchestra's CDs received acclaim by the professional press, including the recent recordings of Beethoven symphonies conducted by Philippe Herreweghe on the PentaTone label. With Jaap van Zweden as Chief Conductor, the Royal Flemish Philharmonic will release symphonies by Shostakovich on the Naïve label.


Martyn Brabbins (Principal Guest Conductor)

Martyn Brabbins

British conductor Martyn Brabbins has been appointed as Principal Guest Conductor of the Royal Flemish Philharmonic (deFilharmonie) for a four-year period (2009-2013) from September 2009 onwards. The collaboration will lead among others to a series of recordings for the prestigious British classical record label Hyperion, as well as a number of innovative concert formulas. Martyn Brabbins will fulfil an important, complementary role, in addition to the collaboration between Chief Conductor Jaap van Zweden and Principal Conductor Philippe Herreweghe.

The Royal Flemish Philharmonic welcomed Martyn Brabbins as a guest conductor for the first time in October 2005. In the frame of the Music@venture Festival, Brabbins conducted a concert featuring music by Param Vir, Jonathan Harvey and Olivier Messiaen. In 2007 and 2008, he once again collaborated with the orchestra, conducting programmes featuring modern and contemporary music. Both the conductor and the orchestra alike enjoyed this stimulating and utterly inspiring collaboration.

Brabbins is one of the leading and most versatile British conductors of his generation. He started his career as a conductor in Saint Petersburg, as a student with Ilya Musin. After winning first prize at the Leeds Conductors' Competition, his career took off. Since then, he has worked with Britain’s most prominent orchestras, and has been invited to guest by various international top orchestras and opera houses. In addition to his regular orchestra and opera repertory, Martyn Brabbins is very much in demand as a conductor of contemporary music. His marked interest in the unknown romantic repertory is characteristic of his musical curiosity. This preference is reflected in his comprehensive discography.

The Royal Flemish Philharmonic will use Brabbins’ expertise for the traditional concert programme, as well as for a series of innovative concert formulas and musical-cultural projects. The emphasis in the collaboration is on the willingness to expand the orchestra’s symphonic repertory and to reinforce the Royal Flemish Philharmonic’s international character.



“...shimmering Symphony No. 6 with its lovely tone painting of the beauties of nature contains descriptive titles for each movement coupled with a short explanation...”
- Mike Birman, 2009

“...the work's instillation of Romantic temperament into traditionally Classical models (a minuet in the third movement) produces a result that is at once highly unusual and highly invigorating...”
- Dave Paxton, 2008

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