1960 (age 57)
Artistic Director: Quintin Ballardie
Principal Conductor: Ralf Gothóni
Principal Guest Conductor: Roy Goodman
Associate Conductor: Paul Watkins
Orchestra Leader: Stephanie Gonley
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. Last year the American radio network CPRN selected ECO as one of the world’s greatest ‘living’ orchestras. 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 orchestra features many major musical figures. Benjamin Britten was the orchestra’s first Patron and a significant musical influence. The ECO’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. In the summer of 2007 the ECO gave a tour in Spain, and its smaller incarnation, the ECO Ensemble, was resident at the Blair Atholl festival. The 2007 Mediterranean Music Cruise featured guest artists Maxim Vengerov, Paul Watkins, Alison Balsom, Lisa Batiashvili and François Leleux. Throughout the autumn and winter the ECO will tour Europe with violinist Sarah Chang, and South Korea with Ralf Gothóni.
In the autumn and winter of 2007 the ECO co-presented the festival Sibelius & Beyond with The Finnish Institute in London. The festival commemorated the 50th anniversary of the death of Sibelius and celebrated the strength of Finnish music today through 20-odd concerts, two lecture series and a film series.
Since its inception the ECO has regularly commissioned new works, most recently Sheer by Anthony Gilbert (premiered in Prague, May 2006), the Concertino for Bassoon by Simon Proctor (premiered in Bristol, November 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 Marinelli’s 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.
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