Formed thirty years ago in 1986 and 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. Just a year later 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. The 30th Anniversary Season opened with a first for Leicester when all three of the city’s leading choirs came together to join the Orchestra and sing in a performance of Elgar’s ‘The Dream of Gerontius’.
Music Director of the Bardi Symphony Orchestra is Danish-born Claus Efland. Now in his tenth season 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 including Katya Apekisheva, Nikolai Demidenko, Tasmin Little, Samantha Ward, Natalie Clein, Raphael Wallfisch, Chlöe Hanslip, Craig Ogden and Tamsin Waley-Cohen. As well as a range of instrumentalist soloists, the Orchestra has worked with a number of choruses over the 30 years of its history including, Leicestershire Chorale, Leicester Philharmonic Choir, The Leicester Bach Choir and London Philharmonic Choir.
The annual Bardi Young Musician concerts series goes from strength to strength. These concerts are intended to encourage emerging and talented young soloists by giving them a platform on which to perform with a full symphony orchestra. The 2017 Bardi Young Musician clarinettist Sam Abbot, was chosen from a strong field of woodwind players in late March, and the sixth BYM concert featuring Sam playing Finzi’s Clarinet Concerto was held at Fraser Noble Hall, London Road, Leicester on Sunday 9 July 2017.