Yan Pascal Tortelier - Conductor from 1989 to 1992
Rafael Payare - Conductor from 2014 to 2019
Maurice Miles - Conductor from 1966 to 1967
Sergiu Comissiona - Conductor from 1967 to 1969
Edgar Cosma - Conductor from 1969 to 1974
Alun Francis - Conductor from 1974 to 1976
Vernon Handley - Conductor from 1985 to 1989
En Shao - Conductor from 1992 to 1995
Dmitry Sitkovetsky - Conductor from 1996 to 2001
Thierry Fischer - Conductor from 2001 to 2006
Kenneth Montgomery - Conductor from 2007 to 2010
JoAnn Falletta - Conductor from 2011 to 2014
Daniele Rustioni - Conductor from 2019
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The orchestra was founded in 1966 by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, with Maurice Miles as its first principal conductor and with János Fürst as its first concertmaster/leader. Fürst later became the orchestra's assistant conductor. The Orchestra has existed in its present form since 1981, when the BBC Northern Ireland Orchestra (BBC NIO) was disbanded. The Ulster Orchestra Society Ltd was then established (a company limited by guarantee and a registered charity) with funding from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, the BBC, Belfast City Council and Gallaher Ltd., and the size of the Orchestra was increased with players from the disbanded BBC NIO.
Past Principal Conductors have included Bryden Thomson, Vernon Handley, Yan Pascal Tortelier, Dmitry Sitkovetsky, Thierry Fischer, and Kenneth Montgomery. Handley also held the title of Conductor Laureate from 2003 until his death in 2008. Principal guest conductors of the orchestra have included Paul Watkins. JoAnn Falletta was principal conductor of the orchestra from 2011 to 2014, the first American and the first female conductor to hold the post. In January 2014, the orchestra announced the appointment of Rafael Payare as its 13th chief conductor, effective with the 2014-2015 season. In October 2016, the orchestra announced the extension of Payare's contract through the 2017-2018 season, and also a change in his title from chief conductor to music director.
Past Associate Composers with the orchestra have included Brian Irvine, and the current Associate Composer is Ian Wilson. Past chief executive officers of the orchestra have included David Byers, who was named as interim chief executive in June 2002, and was formally named to the position in March 2003, initially for a 5-year contract. He retired from the post in September 2010, after which Dick Mackenzie became interim chief executive. Declan McGovern was chief executive on secondment from the BBC between January 2011 and March 2012. Ed Smith was interim chief executive between July and December 2012. Rosa Solinas was chief executive between February 2013 and March 2014.
The orchestra has made commercial recordings for such labels as Chandos, Naxos Records and Toccata Classics. Wikipedia