The Metropole Orkest (or Metropole Orchestra) is a multiple Grammy winning jazz and pop orchestra based in the Netherlands, and is the largest full-time ensemble of its kind in the world. A hybrid orchestra, it is a combination of jazz big band and symphony orchestra. Comprising 52 musicians, it is versatile across many musical forms, and is equipped with a "double rhythm section" - one for pop and rock, and one for jazz based music.
The Metropole Orkest was founded in 1945 by Dolf van der Linden at the urging of officials from Netherlands Public Broadcasting, which manages and subsidizes the orchestra. Since then, the Metropole has become a symbol of Dutch culture around the world. The name of the group was suggested by one of the musicians. Dolf van der Linden led the ensemble for 35 years until he stepped down in 1980. He was replaced by Rogier van Otterloo, who led the group until his sudden death in 1988. Dick Bakker held the baton until 2005 when Vince Mendoza took over. He gave the orchestra a more international character. Since August 2013 Jules Buckley took over the position of chief conductor from Vince Mendoza.
The Metropole Orkest is a regular feature at the North Sea Jazz festival and the yearly Holland Festival along with many TV and radio programs broadcast to millions. The ever-growing Dutch film and television industry relies heavily on the Metropole Orkest for its film scores. From 2005 to 2013 the Metropole was under the baton of four-time Grammy Award winner Vince Mendoza and performed frequently on the concert stage, at festivals and on recordings of both Dutch and international artists.
In European Radio broadcasting, its closest counterparts are the BBC Concert Orchestra, and in particular the now defunct BBC Radio Orchestra which had the same instrumentation. The ensembles often performed with the same guest conductors and soloists, using the same bespoke arrangements. The Metropole Orkest is known for its adaptations to World music and classic Jazz works. Throughout the years the orchestra had some unique partnerships. Some examples are Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Al Jarreau, New York Voices, Bono, Elvis Costello, Within Temptation, Snarky Puppy, Todd Rundgren and Basement Jaxx.
The government was looking to pull their funding from the famous orchestra and Dutch cultural icon. At the last minute, in December 2012, politicians secured funding for the orchestra until 2017.
Dolf van der Linden 1945-1980
Rogier van Otterloo 1980-1988
Dick Bakker 1991-2005
Vince Mendoza 2005-2013
Jules Buckley 2013–present