Introduction to the Orchestra
Acknowledged as "the finest chamber orchestra in the world" (BBC 2 Television), 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, thirteen remain in the current core membership of around sixty. The members of the COE, selected by the Orchestra itself, 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. It is their wealth of cultural backgrounds and shared love of music-making which remain at the heart of their inspired performances.
Performances are given regularly in the major cities of Europe and occasionally in the USA and Japan.
The COE has strong links with the Lucerne Festival, the Styriarte Festival in Graz and also with many of the major concert halls in Europe. These include the Philharmonies 1 and 2 in Paris, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the Baden-Baden Festspielhaus, the Alte Oper in Frankfurt and the Cologne Philharmonie.
Over the years the COE has performed with many of the world’s greatest artists. The Orchestra developed especially close relationships with the late Claudio Abbado and Nikolaus Harnoncourt. Now, it is fortunate to be working very closely with Bernard Haitink, Yannick Nézet-Séguin and Sir András Schiff, who are all Honorary Members.
The Chamber Orchestra of Europe works with all the major recording companies and, in only thirty years, has recorded over 250 works. It has won numerous prizes for its recordings including three Gramophone Record of the Year awards and two Grammys. The COE was the first Orchestra to create its own label, “COE Records”, in association with ASV Records, now distributed by Sanctuary/Universal Music.
From 2007 to 2013 the Chamber Orchestra of Europe was a Cultural Ambassador for the European Union and received substantial financial support from the European Commission. The COE receives invaluable financial support from a number of Friends including particularly The Gatsby Charitable Foundation, without which it could not survive. The Leader Chair is supported by Dasha Shenkman. The Principal Cello Chair is supported by an anonymous donor. The Principal Bass Chair is supported by Sir Siegmund Warburg’s Voluntary Settlement. The Principal Oboe Chair and the Principal Flute Chair are supported by the Rupert Hughes Will Trust in memory of the late Rupert Hughes. The Principal Bassoon Chair is supported by The 35th Anniversary Friends. The Principal Trumpet Chair is supported by The Underwood Trust. The Principal Timpani Chair is supported by The American Friends.