Originally from Basel, Numa Bischof Ullmann has been the Artistic Director of the Luzerner Sinfonieorchester since 2004. Under his guidance the orchestra has become one of the leading ensembles in Switzerland. His accomplishments include expanding the orchestra, getting Chief conductor James Gaffigan to join, and positioning the orchestra internationally. He has also been responsible for establishing partnerships with CD labels and increasing the number of appearances. The orchestra’s budget has almost doubled since 2004, and today the orchestra not only performs in major cities worldwide but also produces recordings for top-class labels such as harmonia mundi and Sony BMG.
In addition to further establishing the orchestra in the region, Numa Bischof Ullmann is committed to building the orchestra’s international reputation. The orchestra has toured extensively and made guest appearances in numerous European capitals, in South America and repeatedly also in Asia.
Bischof-Ullmann adopted a new approach in terms of funding and organising this cultural institution by setting up the private «Foundation for the Luzerner Sinfonieorchester » in 2008, financed by leading Swiss entrepreneurs. This enabled the orchestra to add 20 musicians and helped secure its existence as an institution for future generations.
Under his aegis, a full-time position was created in 2006 to run the orchestra’s education programme – something that was still uncharted territory for Swiss symphony orchestras at the time. One successful product of this programme in 2014 was the Musikwagen – a mobile platform for bringing classical music to local communities.
Numa Bischof-Ullmann strongly believes in promoting new music. This has resulted in several new compositions being commissioned for the orchestra, such as the cycle Nähe Fern by Wolfgang Rihm as well as works by Sofia Gubaidulina and Thomas Adès. The 2011 premiere of Rodion Shchedrin’s concerto for piano, cello and orchestra – dedicated to Martha Argerich – remains one of his milestone achievements in the arts. He is also keen to promote young talent and has institutionalised his commitment through the Art Mentor Foundation Lucerne Award for Young Composers in collaboration with the Art Mentor Foundation Lucerne in 2010, the Arthur Waser Award in collaboration with the Arthur Waser Foundation in 2013 and the Rising Stars concert series in collaboration with the Strebi Foundation in 2016.
In addition to his work with the Luzerner Sinfonieorchester, Numa Bischof-Ullmann is also the founder and artistic director of the Zaubersee Festival – Russian Music in Lucerne, and from 2010 to 2015 he was vice president of the umbrella organisation of professional orchestras in Switzerland. In this position he initiated the Œuvres Suisses project in collaboration with Pro Helvetia, which is committed to promoting a new repertoire of contemporary Swiss orchestral works.
He is also on the board of trustees of an international beneficiary foundation, holds a position on the advisory board of Zurich Minds, is involved with another cultural foundation and has acted as a jury member at various competitions, such as the International Busoni Piano Competition in 2011 and the International Gilmore Award, USA (2011-2015).