Acknowledged as one of the finest orchestras in the world, the Chamber Orchestra of Europe was founded in 1981 by a group of young musicians graduating from the European Union Youth Orchestra. It was their ambition to continue working together at the highest possible professional level, and of that original group, eighteen remain in the current core membership of fifty. The members of COE pursue parallel careers as international soloists, Leaders and Principals of nationally-based orchestras, as members of eminent chamber groups, and as tutors and professors of music. The Chamber Orchestra of Europe provides an excellent illustration of how Europeans can come together artistically to create a strong European ethos. It is the players’ wealth of cultural backgrounds and shared love of music-making which remain at the heart of their inspired performances.
Over the years the COE has developed especially close relationships with Claudio Abbado, Bernard Haitink and Nikolaus Harnoncourt, and works frequently with Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Semyon Bychkov, Vladimir Jurowski, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Sakari Oramo, András Schiff and Mitsuko Uchida. The COE has strong links with the Lucerne Festival, the Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon, the Styriarte Festival in Graz, and also with certain of the major concert halls in Europe. These include the Cité de la musique in Paris, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the Alte Oper in Frankfurt, the Philharmonie in Cologne and the Opéra in Dijon.
The Orchestra has made over 250 recordings, many of which have won prestigious international awards including three Gramophone “Record of the Year” awards with Claudio Abbado and Nikolaus Harnoncourt. COE has also won two Grammys and the MIDEM “Classical Download” award. DVD releases include Mozart’s The Magic Flute directed by Kenneth Branagh, and Schubert’s Alfonso & Estrella conducted by Nikolaus Harnoncourt. During 2010 the COE has released three concert DVDs, firstly Richard Strauss’ Metamorphosen and Bourgeois Gentilhomme and Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G with Hélène Grimaud and Vladimir Jurowski; secondly Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and Mass in C Major conducted by Nikolaus Harnoncourt at the 2007 Styriarte Festival in Graz; and thirdly Schumann’s Symphony No. 2 in C major, Sibelius’ Rakastava, for strings and percussion, Valse Triste and Violin Concerto in D minor with Vladimir Ashkenazy and Valeriy Sokolov.
The COE was appointed an “Ambassador” of the European Union in 2007, and benefits from generous support from the EU Culture Programme and The Gatsby Charitable Foundation.