For the fourth consecutive year, the Gramophone Classical Music Awards will be naming
an Orchestra of the Year. The only award decided on by public vote, Orchestra of the Year celebrates collaborative music-making at the highest level.

In the footsteps of the Seattle Symphony (2018’s winner), the Hong Kong Philharmonic (2019) and The Philadelphia Orchestra (2020), the contenders for the 2021 Orchestra of the Year Award are:

Academy of Ancient Music (UK)

Accademia Bizantina (Italy)

Bamberger Symphoniker (Germany)

Berliner Philharmoniker (Germany)

The Cleveland Orchestra (USA)

Philharmonia Orchestra (UK)

Orchestre symphonique de Montréal (Canada)

Minnesota Orchestra (USA)

Singapore Symphony Orchestra (Singapore)

Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich (Switzerland)

Nomination comes as a result of each ensemble impressing Gramophone’s editors and reviewers by its work on record, and all ten have released magnificent and often thought-provoking new albums over the past 12 months. This year’s ten sees a number of collaborations with a new chief conductor that have caught Gramophone’s attention, but also a few long-term partnerships where experience and mutual respect provide their own rewards.

Gramophone has created 11 Apple Music playlists in lossless audio – one for each ensemble, as well as a dynamic playlist that will be updated throughout the summer, exclusively available to listen to on Apple Music. Listen HERE

Gramophone will also be posting two podcasts focused on the ten orchestras, adding to its podcast library which recently passed the 500,000 download milestone.

Voting opens at noon on Thursday, July 1 and remains live until 8am (BST) on Monday, September 13. Votes can be cast on Gramophone’s website – The Orchestra of the Year will be revealed on October 5 at the 2021 Gramophone Classical Music Awards.

James Jolly, Editor-in-Chief of Gramophone says ‘The chances to hear an orchestra live over the past 15 or so months have been greatly reduced, and even when many ensembles embraced streaming, it was often in music that of necessity called for a smaller group. But thanks to recorded music we could still enjoy that unique experience of numerous musicians playing together, not only a glorious physical sensation but also a wonderful example of what mankind can achieve when we work together in a creative endeavour. Among our ten ensembles are a couple of period-instrument orchestras, as well as eight “traditional” orchestras that have all evolved and grown thanks to the leadership of visionary conductors and administrations determined to be the best.’