The Chamber Orchestra of Europe celebrates their 35th birthday in May and will undertaking a series of concerts as part of the celebrations.
The story of the COE is remarkable considering the orchestra has survived almost exclusively on private funding since 1981. The idea of the COE first emerged at the Salzburg Festival in August 1980 when around 40 of the most experienced members of the European Community Youth Orchestra (ECYO), at the time performing with Herbert von Karajan, decided to form a chamber orchestra to enable them to continue performing together on a professional and long-term basis.
This idea became a reality on the 18th of May 1981 when a launch concert was organised by Peter and Victoria Readman at the Merchant Taylors’ Hall in London. At the end of September 1981, another step forward was a fund-raising private concert at the then new Barbican Hall in London.
The Chamber Orchestra of Europe was the first professional orchestra of its kind when it was founded; a chamber orchestra without a principal conductor, fixed geographical base or public funding.
Against these considerable odds, the Orchestra began to build its reputation with its first major European tour with Claudio Abbado in 1982. Other tours around Europe and visits to Japan and America followed. The orchestra also began to become a force in recordings, winning a number of awards including its first two Gramophone Records of the Year. Part of the success of the orchestra is their relationships with some of the best conductors including Sir Georg Solti, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Semyon Bychkov, Bernard Haitink, Vladimir Jurowski and Yannick Nezet Seguin.
From humble beginnings, the Chamber Orchestra of Europe has developed a into one of the major European orchestras with a core of 60 musicians from all across Europe who undertake around 10 – 12 tours per year. The COE was the first orchestra to be resident at the Kammermusiksaal der Berliner Philharmonie, at Ferrara Musica and at the Salzburg Mozartwoche. Another first for the COE was the development of their own recording label “COE Records” which has played it part in the successful history of 250 recordings and 60 international prizes and awards including three Gramophone Record of the Year awards and two Grammys.
As part of the 35th birthday celebrations, Sir András Schiff will lead the COE into a series of concerts in May which will include an appearance at the Symphony Hall in Birmingham on May 23rd.
For more information about the orchestra, visit the COE website here
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