London Symphony Orchestra

The London Symphony Orchestra
aims to bring the greatest music
to the greatest number of people –
this is at the heart of everything we do.

Our History
& Heritage

The LSO’s commitment to serve music and the people who love music remains as strong today as it was in 1904, when the Orchestra was formed by a group of London’s finest musicians.

We are a self-governing musical collective built on artistic ownership and partnership, which allows us to maintain our professional ambitions and keep music-making at the forefront of everything we do. The LSO is said to have a signature sound emanating from the combined virtuosity of its 95 brilliant musicians, who come from all over the world.

Resident at the Barbican,
touring around the globe

The LSO has been the Resident Orchestra at the Barbican Centre in the City of London since it opened in 1982. Giving 70 symphonic concerts there every year, and a further 70 on tour around the world, the LSO also annually programmes 25 concerts at LSO St Luke’s (the Orchestra’s own venue), and 950 workshops and 150 concerts through its community and education programme, LSO Discovery. We are a champion of new music and regularly commission some of the foremost British composers to write significant new works for the full orchestra as well as mixed-ability ensembles.

Our new family of artists
& our Members

The LSO has developed a close family of artists including Sir Simon Rattle as Music Director, Daniel Harding and Gianandrea Noseda as Principal Guest Conductors, Michael Tilson Thomas as Conductor Laureate, and André Previn as Conductor Emeritus. We also have long-standing relationships with some of the world’s greatest guest conductors and soloists. Many LSO Members enjoy flourishing solo and chamber music careers and teach at conservatoires in London and abroad, sharing their extensive knowledge with the musicians of the future.

Our co-operative spirit

Many millions have enjoyed the LSO as a leading orchestra for film, having performed on (and been specifically chosen for) hundreds of classic scores including Star Wars, Harry Potter and Indiana Jones. LSO Discovery brings the work of the LSO to all parts of society, and every year we give a free outdoor concert in London’s Trafalgar Square. These activities reflect our co-operative spirit and ongoing commitment to making music as accessible as possible to the greatest number of people.

Education & Community

LSO Discovery was founded in 1990 and remains a pioneering programme for music education in the UK. Since 2003 much of its activity has been based at LSO St Luke’s, following extensive restoration to the once-abandoned church. The building now acts as home to a wide range of education and music engagement projects, and as a venue for concerts designed for the local community, encouraging many to take their first steps towards enjoying classical music. And because much of LSO Discovery’s work is captured and shared digitally, enthusiasts, pupils and teachers from around the world can benefit from these activities wherever their physical location. Committed to nurturing the next generation of musical talent, LSO Discovery also provides extensive support and training for emerging young instrumentalists, composers and conductors.

A 21st century entrepreneur

The LSO has a proud history of innovation that helps to keep it relevant and contemporary. With the formation of our own recording label LSO Live in 1999, we brought about a revolution in how live orchestral music was recorded. LSO Live embraces new digital technologies, taking advantage of digital platforms such as iTunes and Google Play right through to virtual reality streaming on Melody VR. Our own platform, LSO Play, also allows people to observe the Orchestra from many different angles and experience every gesture and emotion on the musicians’ faces as they perform.

A Great Musical Future

We are determined to ensure the future of great music in London and throughout the world, and are proud to be part of a cultural hub in the City of London alongside the Barbican Centre, the Museum of London and the Guildhall School. Our Barbican Residency is funded by the City of London Corporation and the LSO is a National Portfolio Organisation of Arts Council England. The Orchestra enjoys major artistic residencies throughout the world – in New York, Paris and Tokyo – plus growing relationships elsewhere in Asia, principally China and South Korea, where our expertise in education work is key. The Orchestra relies on all of these strategic partnerships, plus our generous funders, the enlightened support of our donors, sponsors, and trust and foundation supporters, to enable us to continue delivering a uniquely dynamic range of work.