The New Philharmonic Orchestra of Westphalia was founded by a merger of two orchestras in the northern Ruhr area in 1996: the Westphalian Symphony Orchestra in Recklinghausen and the Philharmonic Orchestra in Gelsenkirchen.
The year 2010 has given the Neue Philharmonie Westfalen another opportunity to present itself and the culture of the Ruhr to audiences from far beyond the region, with the orchestra being represented at many levels in the programme of the European Capital of Culture RUHR.2010 – whether within the framework of Local Heroes Weeks, the Henze Project, “!SING Symphony of a Thousand” conducted by Lorin Maazel or the internet opera of the Ruhr Music Theatre – and yet again functioning as an ambassador for culture.
The conductor Heiko Mathias Förster makes regular guest appearances with orchestras all over the world. The Israel Symphony Orchestra, the National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra, the Radio Symphony Orchestra of Berlin, the Orquesta Sinfónica del Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona and the Prague Symphony Orchestra are only a few of the ensembles Heiko Mathias Förster has conducted in recent years.
Ursula Schoch played in the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra under Claudio Abbado for two years. In 2000 she became leader of the Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam, which with its principal conductor Mariss Jansons is one of the most popular European ensembles.