Formed in 1986, the Orchestra was originally conceived as a chamber orchestra by founder Dr Andrew Constantine, the first concerts were given in the University of Leicester. The name Bardi derives from the Italian Count Giovanni Bardi who was associated with new ideas and approaches to the performance of music in the sixteenth century. Within just a year the Orchestra had expanded in size to form a full symphony orchestra performing in St James the Greater Church, and just four years later saw an orchestra of 132 players performing Mahler’s Symphony No 6 in De Montfort Hall, Leicester.
Music Director of the Bardi Symphony orchestra is Danish-born Claus Efland. Now in his thirteenth season with the Orchestra, he has continued to develop the Orchestra achieving levels of performance rare in an ensemble of this kind.
The players in the Orchestra come from an intriguing range of backgrounds. Having studied music to the highest levels many have chosen to pursue careers outside music but relish the opportunity to come together and play at a professional level. Their commitment and achievement have drawn soloists of the highest calibre to perform with them. In recent years the Orchestra has welcomed, amongst others, Natalia Lomeiko, Isata Kanneh Mason, Katya Apekisheva, Natalie Clein, Tasmin Little, Chloe Hanslip, Tamsin Waley-Cohen, and Nikolai Demidenko.
In addition to a range of instrumentalist soloists, the Orchestra has worked with a number of choruses over the 34 years of it’s history including Leicester Philharmonic Choir, Leicester Bach Choir, London Philharmonic Choir and Leicestershire Chorale and the Choristers of Leicester Cathedral.
Another successful collaboration in recent years has been the appearance of young dancers from Dance Activate, a well-respected centre for a range of dance styles based in Leicestershire. Recent collaborations have been fully staged versions of Stravinsky’s ‘Firebird’ and the second act of Tchaikovsky’s ’Sleeping Beauty’.
Founded in 2012, annual Bardi Young Musician concerts series goes from strength to strength. These concerts are intended to encourage emerging and talented young soloists from Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland by giving them a platform on which to perform with a full symphony orchestra. Auditions for BYM 2022 will take place in September 2021, next year is the turn of young brass players and the winner will appear with the Orchestra in a concert in early 2022.