The ST.PETERSBURG ACADEMIC SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA started from the ensemble, organized back in 1931 at the Leningrad radio. Soon the ensemble grew to the level of a symphony orchestra and at the same time had acquired its particular individual features. One of the characteristics innate to the orchestra by virtue of its origin was the diversity and uniqueness of its repertoire. An orchestra, living in the live air format called for constant renovation of a program, and right after the First symphony of Shostakovich the work had started on «Lohengrin» of Wagner. The concert performance of the opera scenes, preceding the opera staging is one of the repertoire features of the orchestra in the pre-war period. The mobility of the orchestra had been helped by working with a great number of conductors, including Evgeny Mravinsky and Ilia Musin.
Following that, came the time of hard tests. The orchestra of Leningrad radio was the only symphony orchestra remaining in the blockaded city. And despite the fact that by the end of the first war year the orchestra all but ceased to exist, still in the August of 1942, directed by Karl Eliasberg, it played the historical Leningrad premiere of the Seventh of Shostakovich. The overall number of blockade concerts was over three hundred. It included live air concerts, and participation in Comedy theater productions, and concerts at the Grand hall of the Philharmonia. Performances of the Orchestra at the Philharmonic scene continued after the war, and in the summer of 1953 it becomes the second orchestra of Leningrad Philharmonia. The tours are held for the first time, including the tours abroad; in 1962–1963 the series of author’s concerts are complemented with I. Stravinsky and B. Britten. The collaboration with the local composers had also continued within the many-year season ticket «Soviet Musical news». The orchestra gets itself a fame of the best accompanying orchestras in the nation, performing with Van Cliburn, Sviatoslav Richter, Emil Gilels, Yehudi Menuhin and David Oistrakh. In 1968 right after PhD studies at Leningrad conservatory, Yuri Temirkanov joins the orchestra. His activity is related to the rapid growth in repertoire and important tours.
In 1977 the orchestra had been taken over by its today’s artistic director Alexander Dmitriev from the hands of Yuri Temirkanov. With him, the orchestra matures, and receives the statues of the «academic» (1985). It regularly tours abroad, participates in the prestigious international festivals («Arts Square», «Stars of White Nights», «Prague Autumn», «Swansea», «Canterbury»), performs with world-class musicians (M. Rostropovich, G. Sokolov, N. Gutman, E. Virssaladze, Y. Bashmet). The orchestra, to which, according to Slonimsky, he «owes his symphony debuts», the composer dedicates his Twelfth symphony (2005); at the concert dedicated to the 70th anniversary of Falik, there sounds the premiere of his Third symphony (2006). The orchestra, which participated in the debut of Leningrad conservatory student Andrey Petrov, more than fifty years later performs his pieces on the first concert dedicated to the memory of the composer.
The orchestra season of 2006-2007 was marked by the anniversary dates: its 75th anniversary with the special «Anniversary concert series», 60th anniversary of Vladimir Altshuler and thirty years of Alexander Dmitriev’s working with the St.Petersburg Academic Symphony Orchestra – for the first time in its history, the orchestra has such a long-term collaboration.
On September 2006 the orchestra participated in the culture program on connection with historic event - the transfer from the Kingdom of Denmark and the reburial in St.Peter and Paul’s Cathedral in St.Petersburg of Empress Dowager Maria Feodorovna. Musical events included St.Petersburg premiers of Part’s works under the baton of Andres Mustonen among others.
In the new season the orchestra will also present a premiere - concert performance of the Ravel’s «L'enfant et les sortileges», renowned bass soloist Robert Holl will perform selections from the Wagner’s operas, and New-Year Eve concert under the baton of Alexander Dmitriev is expected to became a symbolic equator of the «Arts Square» Festival and the entire season as well.
From the multitude of impressions of the St. Petersburg Academic symphony orchestra, there comes a phrase from one of the American newspapers: «Leningrad deserves to have two great orchestras and it has them».
This season shows again width of the orchestra’s repertoire range. The orchestra will make its contribution into a Mahler cycle (the collective will play his Symphonies No.1 and No.2) and will hold 5 out of 6 concerts “In Tailcoat and Jeans” series. Resident and guests of St. Petersburg will be able to approach academic music of the 20th century (along with pieces by Berg, Webern, Ravel, Milhaud, Poulenc, Honegger, Piazzolla, Schnittke, Petrov, Falik, Korchmar for the first time in Russia will be performed the Requiem by Jenkins) and also classical music, that shapes true taste. Traditionally the orchestra will participate in the festivals: “Arts Square”, “Musical Olympus” and “Petersburg Spring”. The tours history goes on: in October 2009 there was a grand tour over the United Kingdom with 17 concerts in 17 cities.