The Luzerner Sinfonieorchester, or Lucerne Symphony Orchestra, is the oldest orchestra in Switzerland if its direct predecessors are taken into account. The orchestra offers concerts that remain true to its early roots while also stressing a contemporary component. The contemporary Luzerner Sinfonieorchester can be traced back to the Allgemeine Musikgesellschaft Luzerne, a small group of players and aficionados, founded in 1806, who gathered to play the music of the Viennese composers of the day. The group's concerts were well attended, and the orchestra grew in stability over the 19th century. Much earlier than other regional European ensembles, the group had conductors drawn from outside its home country; the young Dutch conductor Willem Mengelberg served in Luzern from 1892 to 1895. Major shapers of the orchestra in the 20th century have included Max Sturzenegger, conductor from 1939 to 1960, and Ulrich Meyer-Schoelkopf (1972-1990. After brief periods of leadership from several other conductors, the orchestra has found new stability under American conductor James Gaffigan, appointed in 2011 and slated to serve at least until 2022. The orchestra began recording in 2005 under John Axelrod, but Gaffigan has expanded its recording catalog with new releases on the major Harmonia Mundi and Sony Classical labels. Gaffigan and the orchestra released a recording of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125, in 2018. With its concert headquarters at the new KKL Luzern (Lucerne Culture and Congress Centre), the Luzerner Sinfonieorchester has emerged as a leader in presenting educational concerts for youth and adults. The orchestra maintains an active youth music club, U25, as well as an Ensemble D concert series for listeners suffering from dementia. Perhaps uniquely, the group offers a Music Car that includes a music workshop space, an expandable stage, and a sound museum; the car is stationed at schools or other public buildings for a period of one or two weeks. In 2012, the orchestra established the Festival Zaubersee-Days of Russian Music. ~ James Manheim
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