The MDR-Sinfonieorchester is Germany's oldest radio orchestra and, two years before its centennial in 2024, continues to uphold the principles of its time of origin: it brings cultural education and musical entertainment to the people, live or over the "airwaves"; it reflects the creative spirit of Central Germany, represented by composers such as Bach, Mendelssohn, Wagner, Schumann, Liszt and Weill. It cultivates musical traditions and the music of the present; the latest music and cross-genre concert formats are as much a part of the program as lively performances of the traditional repertoire.
As the radio orchestra of the region, the MDR-Sinfonieorchester maintains its presence outside the musical centers of Central Germany. The production of exceptional repertoire for radio programs as well as digital formats, especially in the field of education, is increasingly part of the orchestra's tasks, as is the recording of film music. Soundtrack productions include the music for the series "Sense8" by Lilly and Lana Wachowski, for Tom Tykwer's films "Cloud Atlas," "Hologram for a King" and his series "Babylon Berlin. In addition, the MDR\-Sinfonieorchester (with the MDR Children's Choir) has recorded the music for the Kika series "Beutolomäus", and for ARTE the music for the silent films "Prince Achmed", "New Year's Eve" and "Mr. Radio".
The very different personalities who have been at the helm of the MDR-Sinfonieorchester as principal conductors - including Kristjan Järvi, Jun Märkl, Fabio Luisi, Wolf-Dieter Hauschild, Herbert Kegel, Hermann Abendroth - have shaped the orchestra's versatility. Since summer 2020, Dennis Russell Davies has been principal conductor and, as an experienced orchestra educator and accomplished program planner, shapes the orchestra's offbeat repertoire culture.
Among the many guest conductors who have recently led the MDR-Sinfonieorchester are. Krzysztof Urbański, Stefan Asbury, Alain Altinoglu, Roberto Abbado, Bertrand de Billy, James Gaffigan, Neeme Järvi, Michail Jurowski, Kristiina Poska, Santtu-Matias Rouvali, Markus Stenz, Frank Strobel, Karl-Heinz Steffens, Robert Trevino, Jan Willem de Vriend, Kazuki Yamada, Simone Young, Lothar Zagrosek, as well as conductors of the younger generation such as Ariane Matiakh, Anja Bihlmaier, Duncan Ward, Nicholas Carter and Klaus Mäkelä. Guest artists such as Julia Fischer, Renaud and Gautier Capuçon, Alexander Toradze, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Pekka Kuusisto, Gabriela Montero, Nils Mönkemeyer, Antoine Tamestit and Nicolas Altstaedt shaped the programs. Wolfgang Muthspiel, Francesco Tristano, Stefano Bollani, Bryce Dessner, Hauschka, Max Richter and Anoushka Shankar added important color with their concerts.
As the radio orchestra of the region, the MDR-Sinfonieorchester maintains its presence outside the musical centers of Central Germany, giving concerts in places from Altenburg to Zeulenroda. Guest appearances in the 2022/23 season will also take it to the Philharmonie Berlin, the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, Ludwigsburg and Leipzig's twin city Brno.