The Britten-Shostakovich Festival Orchestra is a unique bi-national ensemble bringing together young people of conservatoire age in a shared cultural experience.

The formation of the BSFO marks the 2019 Year of Music, a bilateral initiative between Russia and the United Kingdom. The orchestra is expected to flourish as a regular annual feature in the musical calendars of both countries. Its ambition is to maintain a dynamic cultural collaboration bringing together young musicians from Russia and the United Kingdom each year to work intensively and present a series of concerts on tour.


Applications for the orchestra came from many of the most talented orchestral musicians studying or just starting their careers across Russia and the United Kingdom. They were auditioned between March and May this year, and all are graduates of or students at leading conservatoires and music colleges in Moscow, St Petersburg, Rostov, London, Manchester, Birmingham, Oxford, Glasgow and Cardiff.


The orchestra is made up of similar numbers of British and Russian musicians, providing them with an invaluable musical and cultural experience that will leave a lasting impression at a key stage in their development. The public concerts in Russia and the United Kingdom will be the first time that most of these musicians will have experienced such international musical collaboration.


The inaugural season starts with a week in residence at the Sirius Park of Science and Art in Sochi, Russia, where the orchestra will rehearse and be coached by a professional faculty drawn from major orchestras and opera houses. It will then embark on its first tour, giving five concerts in Russia and seven across the United Kingdom, performing in several of the world’s most prestigious concert halls.


Jan Latham-Koenig, the British Artistic Director of the Kolobov Novaya Opera in Moscow, will conduct the orchestra. He is only British conductor to occupy such a senior titled position with one of Russia’s leading musical institutions.  


The orchestra wishes to thank the Britten-Pears Foundation and Mme Irina Shostakovich for their agreement to using the names Britten and Shostakovich, and also gratefully acknowledges the patronage of HRH Prince Michael of Kent, Mme Irina Shostakovich and Mr Yuri Temirkanov.