A birthday message

For the COE, an international touring orchestra comprising of musicians who live far apart from each other in different European cities, the knock-on effects of the COVID-19 pandemic could not be more acutely felt. We have faced the nightmare scenario since last March of many difficult months without being able to make music together as concert halls and music festivals all over the world close down.

The dark clouds however cleared last year on October 5, and we were able to perform at the Berlin Philharmonie with Sir Simon Rattle and violinist Vilde Frang. We presented repeat concerts at 5pm and 9pm in performance of Beethoven Violin Concerto and Haydn Symphony No. 90. We had longed to work with Sir Simon Rattle for many years and it was an immense boost for us all, both musically and psychologically to have this opportunity with him at this difficult and important time for the orchestra. We have been fortunate to perform with Vilde in the past and it was a great pleasure to join her again to discover and immerse ourselves in her interpretation of the Beethoven Concerto. In addition to the enjoyment and success of the rehearsals and concerts the project was a Beacon of Hope. We were able to join together and truly recharge our batteries and look to the future with renewed optimism. We would not have been able to realise the concert without Sir Simon’s support and with that of the Berlin Philharmonie nor without sponsorship from the Gatsby Foundation for which we are extremely grateful.

Please visit (and start following!) our brand new Instagram page for photos of our Berlin adventure.

Five-star review in RBB Kultur online (06/10/2020)
“This Orchestra does not need hierarchies and gives conductors the feeling to be musicians themselves.” (“The Sound of Democracy“, Tagesspiegel, 06/10/2020)
Five-star review on Bachtrack (08/10/2020): “In the double variations, the excellent soloists of the orchestra could be admired.”

We are also extremely grateful to the Wilo-Foundation who have most generously helped to support the COE musicians directly during the difficult months of 2020.

Importantly, during November 2020, we released a 4-CD box-set of the Schubert Symphonies, recorded live by the Austrian Radio (ORF) in 1988 with Nikolaus Harnoncourt at the Styriarte Festival in Graz. Since the release, we are delighted that the critics all seem unanimous so far and have received this box-set with great enthusiasm.

As we begin 2021, the virus is still extremely active and we continue to be faced with closed venues and severe travel and quarantine restrictions. We know that all our projects are cancelled until Easter and very much hope that we are able to return to the concert platform soon afterwards.

Thank you for visiting our website and for your interest in the COE. We hope that you are keeping safe and well and that, as soon as possible, we will be able to join you and be able to make music again soon.


A birthday message

All of us at the Chamber Orchestra of Europe (COE) offer our strong support to those who are dealing with the current COVID-19 pandemic on the front line and to colleagues and organisations in our precious world of music whose lives and businesses have been thrown into uncertainty. Times have never been more difficult in living memory and many orchestras in our independent sector are now coping with an existential threat.

The COE is a close-knit international musical family and this time of crisis draws together all our friends and colleagues for whom music is an essential part of life. Like all orchestras at this time, we are facing cancellations and watching hard-fought-for special projects dissolve before our eyes for reasons beyond our control. Although this is deeply disappointing, we want to ensure that not all projects will be lost and by working closely with our partners, we hope to reinstate as many as possible in the future.

Even though the independent orchestral sector is more vulnerable at times such as these as a result of the fact that we operate mostly without concert hall or state support, we will just have to be more flexible and resilient than ever. Certainly our loyal and long standing friends are determined to protect the Orchestra and we are now working actively with all our partners, both artistic and financial, to find a path through these challenging times.

Ever since our first concert in 1981 we have believed that it is up to us to solve our own problems and to provide a challenging and stimulating life for all involved in our organisation. The Orchestra’s original objectives were the pursuit of excellence, the breaking down of barriers and the achieving of international success against the odds. These objectives were the reasons for our creation and they have sustained us for nearly 40 years. They are still as strong and important as ever.

There are many challenges to be faced over the coming months and we are confident that we can weather the storm. As we navigate these turbulent and uncharted waters we would be delighted to hear from you if you would like to  help in any way.

Thank you for your many messages of support and we look forward to joining you in the concert hall again as soon as possible. In the meantime please follow us on Twitter or Facebook for news of the many recordings of the COE’s past concerts over the coming months.

Your friends at the Chamber Orchestra of Europe.


Beethoven cycle

It is with great disappointment that we must inform you that the Luxembourg and Paris Philharmonies have been forced to cancel our forthcoming concerts with Yannick Nézet-Séguin who was due to be conducting Beethoven symphony cycles in both cities. This project was of course going to be a major milestone in the close to 40 year life of the COE and the concerts, apart from being sold out weeks ago, were going to be recorded for Deutsche Grammophon.

Beethoven’s symphonic repertoire has been at the very heart of the COE since its foundation in 1981, and it is an immense blow for us to lose this opportunity to be able to rediscover, perform and record these extraordinary works with Yannick, our special Honorary Member.

It is almost 30 years ago that we performed and recorded our first Beethoven symphony cycle with our first Honorary Member, Nikolaus Harnoncourt , a recording which went on to win every major recording award and which sold over one million CDs. Looking to the future, we will hopefully find a way to bring our current project back to life with Yannick and will announce our rescheduled plans as soon as possible.

Inevitably, we are very concerned about all our concerts that are scheduled in the coming months, particularly those in Germany in May and early June as well as our visit to the Bravo Vail Festival in Colorado with Yuja Wang at the end of June. While we hope a miracle may yet happen, we have to be realistic and accept that all our forthcoming projects in the next few months are in jeopardy as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak. We can however assure you that we have every intention of fighting our way through these difficult times and indeed being in a position to continue to make music at the highest level throughout the world, as we have done for almost four decades.

A message from Yannick



These are difficult times.
A particularly challenging aspect for us though is the social aspect. We are a very closely bonded team, used to spending a lot of time with each other deeply focused on playing as one. The love and respect we have for one another has grown over the years into a powerful connection on many levels. Suddenly, we won’t be seeing each other for much longer than the few weeks we were expecting after the end of the last tour.
We are missing each other terribly!!
Below, we ask each other two questions: What do you love most about COE? What do you miss most about COE?
#missingcoe #wewillbeback #wewillmeetagain

“It is amazing to look back and realise that I have played with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe ever since the closing months of my time as a student at the RNCM back in 1982. If one word sums up my experience it is – privilege. I piggybacked into the orchestra thanks to Jonathan Williams our previous principal horn who asked me to come and play alongside him on his first time with the orchestra. A case of being in the right place at the right time.
Playing with COE has never felt like “going to work”. Each time we meet to play it is always amazing. The vibrant joy of so many strong musical personalities combining to create beauty and something meaningful. No going through the motions with this band! I love the thrill of not just playing but the strong listening/playing ethos. Each player is valued equally.
I have to say, it is a great life – travelling to so many wonderful places, and wonderful restaurants, but unlike many other orchestras, we are able to enjoy them because the schedule isn’t just full of “one night stands”.
Although I am enjoying a good rest during this Lockdown (almost a taste of retirement), it was a major disappointment to realise that suddenly the diary was empty. I haven’t played with the orchestra since October and I am really missing The warmth of friendships as well as the excitement of playing. Thankfully COE fans are serious music fans, so, although we are anticipating a pants economic situation for some time to come I believe the orchestra will recover from this enforced rest. In fact, I believe it will be all the stronger as a result.”

Pete Richards, Horn

Mats Zetterqvist (what do you, love/miss, the most about COE?).
The sensation playing with the COE for the first time was to experience that it was actually possible to play symphonic music in the same way as chamber music. With everyone breathing together, all players knowing exactly when to give input and when to follow others – and why. Still after many years I never played in a project without having a minimum of one severe attack of goosebumps!

One of the characteristics of working with the COE is that we are never at home when playing together. We are always on tour, being able to focus on the music we play and the friends we play with. How different and sad these days…

Mats Zetterqvist, Violin

Bernard Haitink, conductor
Maia Cabeza, Violin
Fiona Brett, Violin
Iris Juda, Violin
Elizabeth Wexler, Founder member, violin
Matilda Kaul, Violin, and Tomas Djupsjöbacka, Cello
Dorle Sommer, Viola
Sophie Besançon, Violin
Philippe Tondre, Oboe
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