Chamber Orchestra of Europe

(c) Julia Wesely

brief information

The Chamber Orchestra of Europe (COE) was founded in 1981 by a group of young musicians who became acquainted as part of the European Community Youth Orchestra (now EUYO). There are now about 60 members of the COE, who pursue parallel careers as principals or section leaders of nationally-based orchestras, as eminent chamber musicians, and as tutors of music.

Following Brexit, the ensemble, headquartered in London, has encountered new challenges as a European orchestra engaged in extensive travel. With the commencement of the 2021/22 season and the inauguration of the new Casals Forum, the COE has also discovered a new “musical home” on the European mainland, serving as Kronberg Academy’s inaugural “Orchestra in Residence“. Beginning in 2022, the Chamber Orchestra of Europe has additionally assumed the role of the orchestra in residence at Esterházy Palace in Eisenstadt, Austria. This residency encompasses a minimum of four concerts annually in the Haydn Hall of the Esterházy Palace, featured both within the HERBSTGOLD festival and the classic.Esterhazy concert series. As part of this residency, a comprehensive audiovisual partnership has been established between the COE, Esterházy Palace, and, the foremost online platform for classical music. All COE concerts in Eisenstadt will be streamed live on, with on-demand replays, thereby reaching a global audience.

The highlights of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe’s 2024 season are many and varied. As orchestra in residence at Esterházy Palace, the orchestra will perform chamber music in Eisenstadt in May (22 May) and with Sir András Schiff as soloist at the piano (26 May). In June, the orchestra will then present the Mahler Rückert Lieder with Sir Simon Rattle and Magdalena Kožená (22 February). In September, the orchestra will take part in the HERBSTGOLD Festival in Eisenstadt, with festival director Julian Rachlin as conductor and Yefim Bronfman as soloist in the Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 5 (14 September). The orchestra will also perform Camille Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals – and of course Haydn – with the “Grande Dame” of the piano, Martha Argerich, Iddo Bar-Shai, Annie Argerich-Dutoit (narrator) and Marieke Blankenstijn (11 September). And once again this year, the concerts of the HERBSTGOLD Festival will be broadcast by medici TV and will be available live and digitally afterwards.

As Orchestra in Residence at Kronberg Academy, the COE will perform with Heinz Holliger, Kirill Gerstein, Ilya Gringolts and Sir András Schiff (28/29 September), among others. Prior to this, the orchestra will once again perform at the Baden-Baden Festival in summer 2024, with Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Joyce di Donato and Seong-Jin Cho (19, 20, 21 and 22 July).

Further dates will take the orchestra to the festivals in Lugano (24 June) and Ravenna (28 June) with Sir Simon Rattle and Magdalena Kožená, among others. The orchestra will also perform in Hamburg with Sir András Schiff at the Laeiszhalle (28 May) and later in the year at the Philharmonie Paris with Sir Antonio Pappano and Bertrand Chamayou (18 November).

The members, chosen by the musicians themselves, consist of soloists and section leaders from prestigious orchestras, alongside accomplished chamber musicians and music professors. They travel from various European countries to their designated rehearsal locations for the respective projects. Within the ensemble itself, different European cultures, languages, and schools come together, fostering a flexible, professional, focused, and open working atmosphere.

From the start, the COE’s identity was shaped by its partnerships with leading conductors and soloists. In the early years, Claudio Abbado in particular was an important mentor. Since 2019, the orchestra has regularly returned to the Chamber Music Hall of the Berlin Philharmonie, where it was in residence from 1988-2002, with memorial concerts in his honour at the invitation of the Berliner Philharmoniker. The orchestra currently works closely with Sir András Schiff and Yannick Nézet-Séguin, who are both honorary members and follow in the footsteps of Bernard Haitink and Nikolaus Harnoncourt. The orchestra also has important artistic partnerships with Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Lisa Batiashvili, Janine Jansen, Vladimir Jurowski, Leonidas Kavakos, Sir Antonio Pappano and Robin Ticciati.

The COE performs regularly in all major music centres in Europe and at regular intervals in the USA and Asia. It has special links with the Lucerne Festival, the Philharmonie de Paris, the Concertgebouw Amsterdam, the Kölner Philharmonie, the Philharmonie Luxembourg, the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden and the Alte Oper Frankfurt. To mark Beethoven’s 250th birthday in 2020, the COE and Yannick Nézet-Séguin had planned to perform all the symphonies in Luxembourg and Paris in spring 2020 and to record the concerts for television and Deutsche Grammophon. These projects had to be cancelled due to coronavirus. The album with the Beethoven symphony cycle was then recorded with Yannick Nézet-Séguin in Baden-Baden in summer 2021 and released by Deutsche Grammophon in July 2022.

In 2020, the COE released a Schubert box set with previously unreleased recordings from 1988, conducted by Nikolaus Harnoncourt, which was both a flashback and a preview of the orchestra’s 40th anniversary in 2021.

In the meantime, the orchestra has released further albums and CD boxes with selected recordings under the direction of Nikolaus Harnoncourt, among others, to mark its anniversary. Another release in January 2022 was the DVD/Blu-Ray with the complete Sibelius symphony cycle, performed by the COE and Paavo Berglund at the Helsinki Festival 1998. In total, the COE has recorded more than 250 works and its recordings have been honoured with various awards, including two Grammys and three “Record of the Year” awards from Gramophone Magazine.

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Contact persons

Bettina Schimmer Friederike Eckhardt