The Orchestra of the State Hermitage was founded in 1989 as the St Petersburg Camerata by the outstanding conductor, People's Artist of the USSR and State Prize winner Professor Saulius Sondeckis. Students of the Leningrad Conservatory made up what was then the country's youngest professional orchestra.
On February 14th 1994 the ensemble was awarded the unique status of the Orchestra of the State Hermitage. Since then it has continued to display its trademark creative courage and ability to experiment, whilst at the same time maintaining a highly respectful and professional attitude towards the classical traditions of orchestral music.
Since its foundation the orchestra has given some 1300 concerts in many of the world's best concert halls and has recorded more than thirty CDs, some on the renowned Sony Classical label.
Many prominent conductors and musicians have performed with the orchestra, amongst them Sir Yehudi Menuhin, Mstislav Rostropovich, Maxim Shostakovich, Vladimir Minin, Daniil Shafran, Natalia Gutman, Ivan Monighetty, Vladimir Krainev, Valery Afansiev, Igor Oistrakh, Victor Tretiakov, Grigory Zhislin, Katia Ricciarelli, Dmitry Khvorostovsky, Lyubov Kazarnovskaya, Nikolai Gedda and Barbara Bonney. Among its permanent partners is conductor Mats Liljefors (Sweden).
In recent years the orchestra has toured extensively in France, Switzerland, Cyprus, Poland, Austria, Sweden, Spain, Japan and elsewhere. It has taken part in the opening of many of the exhibitions of the State Hermitage, performing in the halls of the museum as well as in the museums of Lipezk, Irkutsk, Abakan, Ulan-Ude, Kemerovo, Novorossiisk, and Krasnodar, and has on many occasions appeared in both halls of the St Petersburg Philharmonic Society and in the hall of the Academic Capella. In 2003 Mikhail Sinkevich became the orchestra's principle guest conductor.
Starting with the magnificent Tuba Mirum, the now-traditional summer festival The Music of the Greater Hermitage was first performed in 2001. In 2004 the tenth anniversary of the award of Orchestra of the State Hermitage status was celebrated by the international festival One Thousand and One Concerts, an event that became the first of the winter cycle The Musical Hermitage.
The orchestra takes part in both of these festivals, as well as in various projects of the Hermitage Music Academy programme. Its concerts in the Hermitage Theatre and in the halls and yards of the museum are extremely popular and much loved by its audience.