The Bilkent Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1993 as an original artistic project of Bilkent University.
Developed by the Faculty of Music and Performing Arts, the orchestra is composed of proficient artists and academicians of the Faculty from Turkey and 12 countries. With these characteristics the Bilkent Symphony Orchestra, is the first “private, international and academic”, artistic ensemble of Turkey.
With Turkish and foreign guest conductors, soloists and choruses, the orchestra has distinguished itself through its season events of over 50 performances per year and television and radio broadcasts. The national label Bilkent Music Production has released over 40 CD’s of the orchestras’ concerts. Since 2003 prestigious labels such as EMI, CPO and Naxos have released recordings of the orchestra.
Through events such as the Bilkent Odeon Concert, Turkish Composers Week, Education Concerts and The Bilkent International Anatolia Music Festival, the orchestra aims to bring a wide range of activities to large audiences, to spread the appreciation of music at national level, undertake international activities and develop cooperation with institutions abroad. Along these objectives the orchestra has hosted numerous international ensembles and has taken part in Siena International Montepulciano Music Festival in Italy, International San Leo Music Festival in San Marino, Montreux Music Festival in Switzerland and Schleswig Holstein International Music Festival. It has toured to Germany, Portugal, Belgium, Japan, and Poland .
Bilkent Symphony Orchestra has performed under guest conductors such as Stefan Asbury, Vladimir Ashkenazy, John Axelrod, Jean-Claude Casadesus, James Feddeck, Vladimir Fedoseyev, Ernest Martinez Izquierdo, Yoel Levi, Christian Lindberg, Ion Marin, Gabor Takacs Nagy, Christoph Poppen, Santtu-Matias Rouvali, Gennady Rozhdestvensky, Stefan Sanderling, Gilbert Varga and with soloists such as Vladimir Afanassiev, Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Joseph Alessi, Pierre Amoyal, Avi Avital, Sergio Azzolini, Radek Baborak, Allison Balsom, Elena Bashkirova, Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, Nicola Benedetti, Boris Berezovsky, Boris Berman, Lise Berthaud, Gabor Boldoczki, Guy Braunstein, Olivier Charlier, Jose Cura, Nikolai Demidenko, Aniello Desiderio, Klara Ek, Reinhold Friederich, Patrick Gallois, Alexander Ghindin, Denyce Graves, Ilya Gringolts, Jean-François Heisser, Angela Hewitt, Sharon Isbin, Janine Jansen, Sumi Jo, Olga Kern, Lang Lang, Elisabeth Leonskaja, Nikolai Lugansky, Mischa Maisky, Xavier de Maistre, Sabine Meyer, Shlomo Mintz, Georg Nigl, Vikingur Olafsson, Emanuel Pahud, Mikhail Pletnev, İvo Pogorelich, Jean Guihen Queyras, Dezsö Ranki, Vadim Repin, Georgy Sandor, Sayaka Shoji, Valeriy Sokolov, Martin Stadtfeld, Akiko Suwanai, Gabor Tarkövi, Anna Vinnitskaya, Esther Yoo.
Since its founding, the orchestra has partnered and cooperated with non-governmental organizations with the aim of achieving a wider function for the arts, in public life. The ensemble has won awards named after its contributions to “Global Solidarity and World Peace” and in “Promoting Culture, Rural to Global”. UNICEF Turkey has honored the orchestra in 2009 by naming Bilkent Symphony Orchestra as “Goodwill Ambassador”.