The Hallé

The Hallé

Infobox musical artist
Name = Hallé orchestra

Img_size = 180
Background = classical_ensemble
Origin = flagicon|UK Manchester, England, UK
Genre = Classical
Occupation = Symphony orchestra
Years_active = 1858-"present"
Label =
Associated_acts = Hallé Choir, Hallé Youth Orchestra, Hallé Youth Choir
URL = []
Current_members = Music Director
Mark Elder
Principal Guest Conductor
Cristian Mandeal
Assistant Conductor
Rory Macdonald
Choral Director
James Burton
Associate Composer
Colin Matthews
Past_members = Founder
Charles Hallé
Notable_instruments =

The Hallé is a symphony orchestra based in Manchester, England, it claims the status of "the oldest professional orchestra" in the United Kingdom. Since 1996 the orchestra has been resident at the Bridgewater Hall.


In May 1857, the pianist and conductor Charles Hallé set up an orchestra to perform at the Manchester Arts Treasures Exhibition, and the orchestra performed through October 1857. Hallé then decided to continue work with this orchestra as a formal organisation, and the orchestra gave its first concert under those auspices on 30 January 1858. The orchestra's home for the first part of its history was the Free Trade Hall. The orchestra was in financial trouble in 1861, when it performed only two concerts.cite news | url=;jsessionid=CW4IP5KH5U3VDQFIQMFCFF4AVCBQYIV0?xml=/arts/2008/01/07/bmelder107.xml | title=Manchester's Hallé: Knees-up for our oldest orchestra | work=Telegraph | author=Ivan Hewett | date=07 January 2008 | accessdate=2008-01-12] [cite news | url= | title=How an orchestra changed my life | work=The Independent | author=Howard Jacobson | date=11 January 2008 | accessdate=2008-01-12]

Hans Richter served as music director from 1899 to 1911. During his tenure, the orchestra gave the first performance of the Symphony No. 1 of Sir Edward Elgar.

In 1943, the orchestra was again in crisis, having diminished in size to 30 players. Over the next 27 years, from 1943 to 1970, the orchestra's next music director, Sir John Barbirolli, restored the Hallé to national prominence. Together, they made many recordings, including the first recording of Ralph Vaughan Williams' "Symphony No. 8", of which they also gave the first performance. During Barbirolli's tenure, one of the most notable orchestra members was concertmaster Martin Milner, who served in that capacity from 1958 to 1987. Barbirolli regarded Milner as his "right-hand man" and once wrote in appreciation to him: "You are the finest leader I have ever had in my fairly long career." [cite news | url=,,336724,00.html | title=Martin Milner: Barbirolli's right-hand man who led the Hallé through arduous times | work=The Guardian | author=Clive Smart | date=27 Jun 2000 | accessdate=2007-05-19]

Kent Nagano was principal conductor of the orchestra from 1992 to 1999. The orchestra moved from the Free Trade Hall to the Bridgewater Hall in 1996, as its primary concert venue. During his tenure, Nagano received criticism for his expensive and ambitious programming, as well as his conducting fees. [cite news | url=,,299041,00.html | title=Nagano passes on Halle baton | work=The Guardian | author=John Ezard | date=25 May 1999 | accessdate=2007-05-19] However, poor financial management at the orchestra separately contributed to the fiscal troubles of the orchestra. The orchestra faced major financial problems during the late 1990s, including a GB£1.3 million deficit in 1998, to the point where the existence of the orchestra was threatened with loss of funding from the Arts Council and ultimately bankruptcy. [cite news | url= | title=A city reborn | work=The Times | author=Richard Morrison | date=14 Jan 2004 | accessdate=2007-05-19]

During 1997, there was an eight-month period when the orchestra had no executive director. However, Leslie Robinson then served for two years as chief executive after that period. Robinson began to implement changes to the orchestra to start to bring under control the orchestra's financial troubles. These included public fund-raising, which netted GB£2 million, cutting the number of people on the orchestra board in half, and reducing the number of musicians in the orchestra from 98 to 80.

Since 1999, the orchestra's chief executive is John Summers, and he continued Robinson's fiscal practices to restore greater financial security to the orchestra. [cite news | url= | title=In perfect harmony | work=The Times | author= | date=24 Mar 2004 | accessdate=2007-05-19] In 2001, the Arts Council awarded the orchestra a GB£3.8 million grant to allow it to pay off accumulated debts and increase musician salaries, which had been frozen for 4 years. [cite news | url=,,510258,00.html | title=Troubled orchestra gets £3.8m fillip | work=The Guardian | author=David Ward | date=21 June 2001 | accessdate=2007-05-19]

In September 2000, Mark Elder, CBE, took up the appointment of the orchestra's music director, having been appointed to the post in 1999. [ [,,292269,00.html Fiachra Gibbons, "Miracle man to stir Halle giant". "The Guardian", 7 June 1999.] ] His concerts with the orchestra have received consistently positive reviews, and he is generally regarded as having restored the orchestra to high critical and musical standards. [cite news | url= | title=Orchestras: these are the champions | work=The Times | author=Richard Morrison | date=1 Sep 2006 | accessdate=2007-05-19] In 2004, Elder signed a contract to extend his tenure which is now expected to continue through at least 2010. [cite news | url= | title=Opera: Armed for action | work=The Times | author=Hugh Canning | date=16 October 2005 | accessdate=2007-05-19]

One of the orchestra's recent ideas was to try to find alternative stage dress to the traditional "penguin suits", but this idea did not come to fruition. [ [,,957301,00.html David Ward, "Halle keeps penguin suits for new season". "The Guardian", 16 May 2003.] ] The orchestra has also begun to issue new CD recordings under its own label. [ [,,718534,00.html David Ward, "Hallé opts to record on own label". "The Guardian", 20 May 2002.] ]

In March 2006, the orchestra was forced to cancel a planned tour of the United States because of the cost and administrative difficulties in obtaining visas for the musicians, a result of the tougher visa regulations intended to combat potential terrorist attacks. [cite news | url= | title=Visa hurdle forces Hallé to cancel US tour | work=BBC Music Magazine | author= | date=5 Apr 2006 | accessdate=2007-05-19]

The orchestra appointed its first-ever principal guest conductor, Cristian Mandeal, in 2006. He is scheduled to serve in this post until 2009. In February 2008, the orchestra announced the appointment of Markus Stenz as its next principal guest conductor, starting in 2009. Rory Macdonald is the current assistant conductor of the orchestra. Ewa Strusińska is scheduled to take over the assistant conductorship in 2008. The current leader of the orchestra is Lyn Fletcher. The orchestra's current head of artistic planning is Geoffrey Owen.

;Notable premieres
* Edward Elgar, Symphony No. 1 (1908)
* Anthony Collins, "Threnody for a Soldier Killed in Action" (1945) [ [,,705937,00.html Pauline Fairclough, Review of the Hallé Orchestra with conductor Thierry Fischer. "The Guardian", 22 April 2002.] ]
* William Alwyn, Symphony No. 1, (1949-1950)
* William Alwyn, Symphony No. 2 (1953)
* Ralph Vaughan Williams, "Sinfonia antartica" (1953)
* Gerald Finzi, Cello Concerto (1955) [ [,,1542847,00.html Anne Inglis and Anthea Sharma, Obituary for Christopher Bunting. "The Guardian", 5 August 2005.] ]
* Anthony Milner, "Variations for Orchestra" (1959) [ [,,802096,00.html William Mival, Obituary for Anthony Milner. "The Guardian", 1 October 2002.] ]
* Thomas Adès, "These Premises Are Alarmed" (1996)
* Gustav Mahler "Das Klagende Lied (complete version)" (1997)
* Graham Fitkin, 'North' (1998)
* Colin Matthews, 'Pluto,' an addition to Holst's "The Planets" (2000)

Hallé Choir

The Hallé Choir was founded with the Orchestra in 1858 by Sir Charles Hallé. The choir gives around twenty concerts a year with the Hallé at the Bridgewater Hall and other venues across the UK. Appearing with many international conductors and soloists in concert and recordings, the choir performs an exciting and varied repertoire of major choral and operatic works. James Burton was appointed choral director in April 2002.

The choir's activities include individual vocal coaching, sectional and full choir rehearsals as well as social events.

The Hallé Choir has received outstanding critical acclaim for many performances with Elder, including a memorable Verdi centenary programme at the BBC Proms and performances of Joseph Haydn's "The Creation", J.S. Bach's "St. John Passion" and Leoš Janáček's "Glagolitic Mass". The Hallé's CD label features the choir on three of its releases, "English Rhapsody", "Hallé Christmas Classics" and "Elgar: A Self-Portrait".

Principal conductors

*1858–1895 Sir Charles Hallé
*1895–1899 Sir Frederic Cowen
*1899–1911 Hans Richter
*1912–1914 Michael Balling
*1915–1920 Sir Thomas Beecham (musical adviser)
*1920–1934 Sir Hamilton Harty
*1939–1942 Sir Malcolm Sargent (conductor-in-Chief)
*1943–1970 Sir John Barbirolli
*1972–1983 James Loughran
*1983–1992 Stanisław Skrowaczewski
*1992–1999 Kent Nagano
*2000–"present" Sir Mark Elder


External links

* [ The Hallé official website]
* [ The Bridgewater Hall web site]
* [ More information about The Hallé]

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