Based in Belfast, the Ulster Orchestra gives concerts across Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and has received international attention through its many recordings. Formed in 1966, the orchestra was first conducted by Maurice Miles. In 1981, the BBC Northern Ireland Orchestra was dissolved, so many of its members joined the Ulster Orchestra, increasing its size. Conductors who have led the orchestra include Sergiu Comissiona, Bryden Thomson, Vernon Handley, Yan Pascal Tortelier, Dmitry Sitkovetsky, Thierry Fischer, Kenneth Montgomery, JoAnn Falletta, and Rafael Payare. The Ulster Orchestra has had a long partnership with the BBC Northern Ireland, and it participates in broadcasts on BBC Radio 3, outreach programs, workshops, and master classes. Also through the BBC's funding and the support of the Arts Council for Northern Ireland and the Belfast City Council, the orchestra has commissioned new compositions from its associate composers, Brian Irvine and Ian Wilson, as well as from John Tavener, Rodion Shchedrin, Kevin Volans, Ciarán Farrell, Elaine Agnew, Donnacha Dennehy, Michael McGlynn, Deirdre Gribbin, Derek Bell, David Byers, Piers Hellawell, Edward McGuire, Malcolm Williamson, Lyell Cresswell, and Pawel Szymanski, among many others. The Ulster Orchestra has recorded for Naxos, Hyperion, Chandos, and Somm.