This world-class orchestra has a full symphonic component, but it began from a modest ensemble called the Cardiff Station Orchestra, which was formed in 1928.
This group played from the first day BBC Radio began broadcasting in Wales until 1931, when funding problems forced its disbandment. Among the orchestra's achievements was the first British airing of all of the symphonies by Sibelius. The BBC Welsh Orchestra stepped in to fill the gap in 1935. This group of 20 players, under the leadership of the BBC Wales' director of music Idris Lewis, assisted and encouraged Welsh composers by scheduling performances of their work. This ensemble was kept together until the outbreak of war in 1939. In 1946, due to the recommendations of Adrian Boult, who had been touring Wales with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the BBC Welsh Orchestra, a group of 31 members, was established by the BBC and the Arts Council to perform as a national orchestra and make broadcasts on the Welsh Home Service. The orchestra quickly gained an excellent reputation for itself with performances of light music works under the conductorship of Rae Jenkins. The number of members was expanded to 44 in the 1960-1961 season. Under the direction of Erwin Hoffman, the BBC Welsh Orchestra gave its first performance at the Proms at the Royal Albert Hall in London in August 1971, playing music by Haydn, Mozart, Stravinsky, and Brahms. In 1982, the orchestra, now consisting of 78 performers, finally received a permanent home when it moved into St. David's Hall in Cardiff.