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 Concert Series”, “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 toured to Italy (1998), Germany (2000), Belgium (2001), Portugal (2000) and Switzerland (2002-2004 Montreux Festival). In February 2004 the orchestra has toured to Tokyo (Japan). In July 2011, BSO performed concerts at the Schleswig Holstein International Music Festival.
Bilkent Symphony Orchestra has performed under guest conductors such as Rauf Abdullayev, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Gürer Aykal, Serge Baudo, Jean-Claude Casadesus, Alexander Dimitriev, Vladimir Fedoseyev, Jean Fournet, Edward Gardner, Peter Gülke, Ernest Martinez Izquierdo, Yoel Levi, Ion Marin, Gennady Rozhdestvensky, Jose Serebrier, Nello Santi, Emil Tabakov, Gilbert Varga and Klaus Weise, with soloists such as Vladimir Afanassiev, Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Pierre Amoyal, Cihat Aşkın, Allison Balsom, Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, Nicola Benedetti, Boris Berezovsky, Boris Berman, İdil Biret, Gabor Boldoczki, Guy Braunstein, Han-Na Chang, Olivier Charlier, Robert Cohen, Jean-Philippe Collard, Costas Cotsiolis, Jose Cura, Nikolai Demidenko, Elena Dobracheva, Albert Dohmen, Klara Ek, Alexander Ghindin, Denyce Graves, Ilya Gringolts, Angela Hewitt, Sharon Isbin, Janine Jansen, Sumi Jo, Suna Kan, Olga Kern, Lang Lang, Elisabeth Leonskaja, Nikolai Lugansky, Mischa Maisky, Xavier de Maistre, Sabine Meyer, Shlomo Mintz, Cristian Oelze, Gülsin Onay, Emanuel Pahud, Güher ve Süher Pekinel, Mikhail Pletnev, Victoria Postnikova, Vadim Repin, Georgy Sandor, Fazıl Say, Hüseyin Sermet, Sayaka Shoji, Silver-Garburg Piano Duo, Marco Socias, Akiko Suwanai and Anna Vinnitskaya and with the Schleswig-Holstein Festival Chorus Lübeck, Rome, and Bulgarian National Philharmonic and Radio Choruses.
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” as well as public recognitions such as Andante Magazines’ 2011 Donizetti Classical Music “Orchestra of the Year” award assessed by jury and popular vote. UNICEF Turkey has honored the orchestra in 2009 by naming Bilkent Symphony Orchestra as “Goodwill Ambassador”.
Bilkent Symphony Orchestra and its ensembles will be welcoming audiences at the Bilkent Concert Halls in Ankara (800), Erzurum (300) and Erbil (750) and the Bilkent Odeon Amphitheatre (4000).