Famed Netherlands big band the Metropole Orchestra (aka Metropole Orkest) is world-renowned for its performances of jazz, pop, classical, world, and avant-garde music.
They are the world's oldest multi-genre orchestra, with more than 100 albums in their catalog, and their lineup can shift from 17 to 92 players on any given performance or recording. In addition to their own expansive body of work, they have collaborated in studio and on-stage with prominent artists ranging from Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, and Raymond Scott to Marcus Miller, Jacob Collier, and Clark Terry; from Tori Amos, Elvis Costello, and Snarky Puppy to Within Temptation, Bokante, and Basement Jaxx. Further, they have recorded original soundtracks for dozens of films on both sides of the Atlantic including The Stepford Wives, OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies, and Ober. In 2014, the group committed itself firmly to working with vocalists and issued Laura Mvula with Metropole Orkest and Live in Holland with Asha Bhosle. In 2018, they collaborated with Raul Midon for If You Really Want, and in 2019 performed Requiem with Triptykon at the Roadburn Festival.
The Metropole Orkest was founded in 1945 by the Dutch Radio Foundation under the leadership of conductor Dolf van der Linden; the 17-member ensemble made its debut on November 25 of that year, and in the decades to follow established itself as an institution of the European jazz community, backing everyone from Tony Bennett and Shirley Bassey to Natalie Cole. After 35 years at the helm, van der Linden left the orchestra in 1980 and was replaced by Rogier van Otterloo; in the wake of van Otterloo's 1988 death, the reins were handed to artistic director Dick Bakker, who held them until American composer, arranger, and conductor Vince Mendoza took over the baton in 2005. The orchestra's reputation flourished over the next several years. They issued albums on several labels that received global critical acclaim, including Best of Burt Bacharach Live with Trijntje Oosterhuis, Revolutions with Jim Beard in 2008, and the following year El Viento: The Garcia Lorca Project, Ivan Lins & the Metropole Orchestra and Morricone: The Maestro, The Music, And the Orchestra in 2010. Despite releasing some 20 albums between 2008 and 2011, the Dutch government seriously considered withdrawing funding from the orchestra. In December, funding was assured through 2017. Metropole Orkest issued some of its most prestigious recordings over the next five years, including Edu Lobo & Metropole Orkest, Perfect Vision: The Esquivel Sound, and Sylva with Snarky Puppy.
In the build-up to another Dutch parliamentary debate over public funding for arts and culture in May 2018, the Metropole Orkest announced that budget cuts during the preceding five years had caused a 50-percent reduction in the work the orchestra could offer its musicians. Many faced problems in combining the orchestra's irregular work hours with the part-time jobs required to make ends meet. They issued only a solitary digital recording in 2019 as a result: Melkweg with Jameszoo and Jules Buckley. That said, the group did perform a commissioned work with Triptykon at that year's Roadburn Festival. Entitled Requiem, it featured the entire performance of Celtic Frost's unfinished work of the same name composed by their own guitarist Tom Gabriel Warrior, the founder of Celtic Frost, who had started the band in 1986. The set was released by Century Media in the spring of 2020. ~ Thom Jurek & Jason Ankeny, Rovi