The history of the North Caucasus State Safonov Philharmonic is inextricably linked with the story of its elder ensemble – the Academic Symphony Orchestra. The ensemble was founded on the initiative of Vasily Safonov in 1895, at the same time as the Kursaal. Over the years musicians who have appeared with the orchestra include Sergei Rachmaninoff, Sergei Prokofiev, Sviatoslav Richter, Rudolf Kehrer, Mstislav Rostropovich, Nikolai Petrrov, Leonid Kogan, David Oistrakh, Leonid Sobinov, Antonina Nezhdanova, Leo Krämer and Fabio Mastrangelo.
The orchestra has been conducted by Vasily Safonov, Alexander Glazunov, Nikolai Golovanov, Ilya Musin, Nikolai Rabinovich, Yuri Simonov, Juozas Domarkas and Valery Gergiev. In recent decades the orchestra has been led by Yuri Kochnev, Conrad van Alphen, Alexander Chernushenko and Stanislav Kochanovsky. The orchestra's current Principal Conductor is Dimitris Botinis (since 2015), and its Principal Guest Conductor is Pyotr Nikiforoff (since 2016).
In 2002 there was a concert by the Academic Symphony Orchestra at the Great Hall of the St Petersburg Philharmonic, and in 2008 and 2010 it appeared in Mosow at the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall.
In 2010 the musicians toured to Spain, and in 2011 they travelled to Italy. The ensemble is planning tours to Japan, South Korea, Italy, Austria, the Czech Republic, the USA and Germany. Since 2010 the orchestra has actively collaborated with the St Petersburg House of Music and features in the projects Music of the Stars and Musical Team of Russia. These projects have seen the orchestra appear with the violinists Alena Baeva, Nikita Borisoglebsky, Pavel Milyukov and Andrei Baranov, cellists Alexandre Bouzlov, Sergei Antonov and Alexander Ramm, pianists Miroslav Kultyshev, and Sergei Redkin and mezzo-soprano Olesya Petrova among other artistes.
In 2016 the philharmonic held a premiere of Così fan tutte (Production Conductor – Dimitris Botinis), and in 2017 came a premiere of Tosca (Production Conductors – Pyotr Nikiforoff and Diego Willy Corna).
In recent years the orchestra has produced dozens of recordings together with the Kondrashin Classical Recordings label, among them Mozart's Requiem, Honegger's Symphonie Liturgique, Mahler's Tenth Symphony, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, Bach's Mass in B Minor, a cycle of symphonies and concerti by Rachmaninoff and Mozart, Mendelssohn's Violin and Piano Concerto and world premieres of a series of works by contemporary Swiss composer Fabio Arnaboldi.
The orchestra features in the subscription series Tales from the Old Kursaal of the North Caucasus State Philharmonic, its interests being focussed on developing children's interest in classical music.
Information for January 2018