The English Chamber Orchestra is one of the world’s leading chamber orchestras, having performed in more countries than any other orchestra, recorded over 1,200 works and played with the world’s greatest musicians. The ECO aims to celebrate and build upon its traditions of maintaining the highest international musical standards and nurturing new talent, as well as being the chamber orchestra of choice for many of the world’s greatest soloists. The Orchestra receives no public funding in support of its activities.

The illustrious history of the ECO features many major musical figures. Benjamin Britten was the orchestra’s first Patron and a significant musical influence. The Orchestra’s long relationship with Daniel Barenboim led to an acclaimed complete cycle of Mozart piano concertos as live performances and recordings, followed later by two further recordings of the complete cycle, with Murray Perahia and Mitsuko Uchida. Jeffrey Tate was appointed as the first Principal Conductor in 1985, and was succeeded by Ralf Gothóni in 2000. The Orchestra continues to attract musicians of the stature few chamber orchestras can match.

After a successful first summer in 2007 the ECO is now resident at Grange Park Opera in Hampshire, performing Bellini's "Norma" and "The Cunning Little Vixen" by Janácek during June and July 2009.

Foreign tours in 2008/9 season include Istanbul, Merano, Dubai, Paris, Bermuda, Warsaw, Lisbon, Naantali, Dresden, Mecklenberg, Eisenstadt and Bucharest with conductors including Pinchas Zukerman, Vladimir Ashkenazy and Sir Colin Davis.

Since its inception the ECO has regularly commissioned new works, most recently Three Welsh Songs for Strings by Huw Watkins
(commissioned for the Orchestra's Patron, HRH The Prince of Wales's, 60th birthday, 2008), Oboe Concerto Sahara by David Heath (2009), Sheer by Anthony Gilbert (2006), Concertino for Bassoon by Simon Proctor (2005) and Pratirupa by Sir John Tavener (premiered in London, November 2004 when the ECO performed the composer’s 60th birthday concert).

The ECO has been chosen to record many successful film soundtracks (including several scores by John Barry and Dario Marianelli’s award-winning soundtracks for Pride and Prejudice and Atonement) and has taken part in a variety of film and television projects.

The ECO is proud of its outreach programme, Close Encounters, which takes music into communities and schools around the UK and overseas - from Bristol and London to Bermuda and Soweto.
This biography was most recently edited by...
sbarnebey - 22 Dec 2009