The Philharmonic State Orchestra is Hamburg's largest and oldest orchestra and has been shaping the musical life of the Hanseatic city for more than 190 years. In addition to the Philharmonic Concerts and special concerts at the Elbphilharmonie, it performs at many opera and ballet evenings at the Hamburg State Opera. Since the 2015/2016 season, Kent Nagano as Hamburg's General Music Director and Georges Delnon as Intendant have been jointly in charge of the music operations at the Hamburg State Opera..
The Kühne Foundation is the main sponsor of the Philharmonic State Orchestra and, with a major donation spread over five years, has not only supported the extension of Kent Nagano's contract for a further five years until 2025, but with this donation also enables the further improvement of the State Orchestra envisaged by Kent Nagano. Thanks to the donation, new orchestra positions can be created, because only with a sufficient number of employed musicians is the orchestra able to implement new projects of high impact and achieve a top position in the international orchestral landscape. In the future, the orchestra will also be increasingly present abroad as a musical ambassador of the Hanseatic city: in 2019, extensive guest performance tours will take place in Spain and Japan. A tour of China is being planned, as well as further guest performances in Europe. These projects, too, are largely dependent on the orchestra's personnel.
Since Nagano's first season in Hamburg, there has already been a significant increase in attendance at the concerts, which took place in the venerable Laeiszhalle until the end of 2016. In the Elbphilharmonie, the orchestra now plays to a consistently sold-out audience.