The Chamber Orchestra of Europe (COE) was founded in 1981 by a group of young musicians who became acquainted as part of the European Community Youth Orchestra (now EUYO). There are now about 60 members of the COE, who pursue parallel careers as principals or section leaders of nationally-based orchestras, as eminent chamber musicians, and as tutors of music.

From the start, the COE’s identity was shaped by its partnerships with leading conductors and soloists. It was Claudio Abbado above all who served as an important mentor in the early years. He led the COE in staged works such as Rossini’s Il viaggio a Reims and Il barbiere di Siviglia and Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro and Don Giovanni and conducted numerous concerts featuring works by Schubert and Brahms in particular. Nikolaus Harnoncourt also had a major influence on the development of the COE through his performances and recordings of all of the Beethoven symphonies, as well as through opera productions at the Salzburg, Vienna, and Styriarte festivals.

Currently the Orchestra works closely with Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Sir Simon Rattle and Sir András Schiff, who are Honorary Members (following in the footsteps of Bernard Haitink and Nikolaus Harnoncourt), and also Sir Antonio Pappano and Robin Ticciati.

The COE has strong links with many of the major festivals and concert halls in Europe including the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden, the Kammermusiksaal der Philharmonie in Berlin, the Cologne, Luxembourg and Paris Philharmonies, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and the Alte Oper in Frankfurt. In partnership with the Kronberg Academy, the COE became the first-ever Orchestra-in-residence at the Casals Forum in Kronberg in 2022. The Chamber Orchestra of Europe has also been Orchestra-in-residence at the Esterhazy Palace in Eisenstadt since 2022.

With more than 250 works in its discography, the COE’s CDs have won numerous international prizes, including two Grammys and three Gramophone Record of the Year Awards. Their most recent release is an archive recording of the Schubert Symphonies, performed at the Styriarte Festival in Graz in 1988 with Nikolaus Harnoncourt, released by ICA Classics. The 4-CD box-set has been enthusiastically received by the critics internationally and we have now released a second box-set of archive recordings with Nikolaus Harnoncourt, featuring works by Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Brahms. In January 2022, we also released all of the Sibelius Symphonies on DVD and BluRay, conducted by Paavo Berglund at the Helsinki Festival in 1998. In February 2023, the recording of the Clara Wieck-Schumann and Robert Schumann’s Piano Concertos with Beatrice Rana and Yannick Nézet-Séguin was released to international acclaim. Deutsche Grammophon plans to release our Brahms Symphonies, recorded at the Baden-Baden Festspielhaus with Yannick Nézet-Séguin, some time in 2024.

In 2009, the COE Academy was created in order to give a select group of exceptional students the chance to study with the principal players of COE and, importantly, to give the students the opportunity to travel “on tour” with the orchestra.

The COE is a private orchestra which receives invaluable financial support from particularly the Gatsby Charitable Foundation and a further number of Friends including Dasha Shenkman, Sir Siegmund Warburg’s Voluntary Settlement, the Rupert Hughes Will Trust, the Underwood Trust, the 35th Anniversary Friends and American Friends.

To find out more about the COE and its members, you can listen to our podcast presented by Simon Mundy.

Feature about the COE, ‘Continental drift’ by Simon Mundy, in Classical Music Magazine (April 2019)

Read more about our relationships with Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Bernard Haitink and Claudio Abbado.

For a year-by-year chronology of the COE odyssey, as told by our bass trombonist Nick Eastop, please visit our #COE40 page.

Please click here to download the COE’s full biography.



The History of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe

Please click on the chapters below to discover the unique story of the creation of the COE and to find out how the Orchestra has evolved since 1981.

Harmony on a honeymoon – or listen to the story of the COE’s genesis on our podcast here.

The 1980’s and 1990’s

The COE in the new millennium

For a year-by-year chronology of the COE odyssey, as told by our bass trombonist Nick Eastop, please visit our #COE40 page.



COE Timeline

Please enlarge to full screen and turn the sound on for an optimal experience. To do this, please click on the three dots at the bottom right of the screen and then on the arrows pointing outwards.

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  • Honorary Members
    Yannick Nézet-Séguin
    Sir András Schiff
    Sir Simon Rattle
    Bernard Haitink †, Honorary Member
    Nikolaus and Alice Harnoncourt †, Honorary Members
  • Violin
    Lorenza Borrani, Leader/Director
    Lucy Gould, Principal Second Violin
    Maia Cabeza, Principal Second Violin
    Sophie Besançon, Violin
    Fiona Brett, Violin
    Christian Eisenberger, Violin
    Benjamin Gilmore, Violin
    Matilda Kaul, Violin
    Stefano Mollo, Violin
    Fredrik Paulsson, Violin
    Joe Rappaport, Violin
    Håkan Rudner, Violin
    Henriette Scheytt, Violin
    Martin Walch, Violin
    Elizabeth Wexler, Violin
    Marieke Blankestijn, Associate Leader
    Ulrika Jansson, Violin (Associate)
    Iris Juda, Violin (Associate)
    Maria Kubizek, Violin (Associate)
  • Viola
    Pascal Siffert, Principal Viola
    Claudia Hofert, Viola
    Riikka Repo, Viola
    Dorle Sommer, Viola
    Wouter Raubenheimer, Viola
    Ida Grøn, Viola (Associate)
    Simone von Rahden, Viola (Associate)
    Stephen Wright, Viola (Associate)
  • Cello
    William Conway, Principal Cello
    Richard Lester, Principal Cello
    Luise Buchberger, Cello
    Kate Gould, Cello
    Tomas Djupsjöbacka, Cello
    Henrik Brendstrup, Cello (Associate)
    Kim Bak Dinitzen, Cello (Associate)
    Sally-Jane Pendlebury, Cello (Associate)
    Howard Penny, Cello (Associate)
  • Double Bass
    Enno Senft, Principal Double Bass
    Dane Roberts, Double Bass
    Philip Nelson, Double Bass
    Håkan Ehrén, Double Bass (Associate)
  • Flute
    Clara Andrada de la Calle, Principal Flute
    Josine Buter, Flute
  • Oboe
    Philippe Tondre, Principal Oboe
    Rachel Frost, Oboe and Cor Anglais
  • Clarinet
    Romain Guyot, Principal Clarinet
    Marie Lloyd, Clarinet
  • Bassoon
    Rie Koyama, Principal Bassoon
    Christopher Gunia, Bassoon
  • Horn
    Jasper de Waal, Principal Horn
    Beth Randell, Horn
    Jan Harshagen, Horn (Associate)
    Peter Richards, Horn (Associate)
  • Trumpet
    Neil Brough, Principal Trumpet
    Julian Poore, Trumpet
  • Trombone
    Håkan Björkman, Principal Trombone (Associate)
    Helen Vollam, Trombone (Associate)
  • Bass Trombone
    Nicholas Eastop, Bass Trombone
  • Tuba
    Jens Bjørn-Larsen, Tuba (Associate)
  • Timpani
    John Chimes, Timpani
  • Trustees
    Peter Readman, COE Executive Chairman
    James Judd, Conductor
    Michael Hoare, C.Hoare & Co
  • Management
    Peter Readman, Executive Chairman
    Simon Fletcher, General Manager
    Camilla Follett, Planning and Personnel Manager
    Patrick McEntee, Tour and Stage Manager
    Derri Lewis, Tours and Library Assistant
    Coralia Galtier, Business Development Manager
    Giovanni Quaglia, Finance and Project Manager
    Norman Thomas, Accountant
  • Advisers
    Stephen Wright, International Adviser, SWM
    Caroline Harding-Gelbard, Digital Strategy Adviser (Paperless Post)
  • Former Members
    James Clark, Leader
    Lukas Hagen, Leader
    Gerard Korsten, Leader
    Matthias Lingenfelder, Leader
    Gordan Nikolic, Leader
    Keith Pascoe, Leader
    Christoph Poppen, Leader
    David Alberman, Principal Second Violin
    Mats Zetterqvist, Principal Second Violin
    Kolbjørn Holthe, Principal Second Violin
    Katrine Yttrehus, Principal Second Violin
    Sarah Bevan-Baker, Violin
    Annette Bik, Violin
    Peter Brunt, Violin
    Cindy Foster, Violin
    Lily Francis, Violin
    Ingrid Friedrich, Violin
    Ulf Forsberg, Violin
    Florian Geldsetzer, Violin
    Stephanie Gonley, Violin
    Lesley Hatfield, Violin
    Jackie Hartley, Violin
    Silvia Iberer, Violin
    Hans Liviabella, Violin
    Fiona McCapra, Violin
    Maighread McCrann, Violin
    Benjamin Nabarro, Violin
    Andrew Roberts, Violin
    Gyula Stuller, Violin
    Stewart Eaton, Principal Viola
    Douglas Paterson, Principal Viola
    Graham Oppenheimer, Principal Viola
    Diemut Poppen, Principal Viola
    Gert-Inge Andersson, Viola
    Corinne Contardo, Viola
    Roger Tapping, Viola
    Charlotte Walterspiel, Viola
    Pal Banda, Cello
    Marco Guidarini, Cello
    Christoph Marks, Cello
    Tanya Lugli, Cello
    Herbert Mayr, Double-bass
    Lutz Schumacher, Double Bass
    Rick Stotijn, Double-Bass
    Thierry Fischer, Principal Flute
    Noor Kamerbeek, Principal Flute
    Jaime Martin, Principal Flute
    Jacques Zoon, Principal Flute
    Douglas Boyd, Principal Oboe
    François Leleux, Principal Oboe
    Kai Frömbgen, Principal Oboe
    Richard Hosford, Principal Clarinet
    John Bradbury, Clarinet
    Lynsey Marsh, Clarinet
    Nicholas Rodwell, Clarinet
    Robin O'Neill, Principal Bassoon
    Matthew Wilkie, Principal Bassoon
    Stephen Stirling, Horn
    Bruce Knockles, Principal Trumpet
    Geoff Prentice, Timpani
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