The Mahler Chamber Orchestra (MCO) – renowned for its passion and creativity – was founded in 1997 with the shared vision of being a free and international ensemble. The MCO is a nomadic collective of exceptional musicians, with 45 members of the core ensemble spanning 20 different countries and uniting for specific tours and projects in Europe and across the world. The orchestra is constantly on the move: it has, to date, performed in 35 countries across 5 continents. It is governed collectively by its management team and orchestra board, and decisions are made democratically with the participation of all musicians.
The MCO’s sound is characterized by the chamber music style of ensemble playing among its alert and independent musical personalities. Its core repertoire, which ranges from the Viennese classical and early Romantic periods to contemporary works and world premieres, reflects the orchestra’s agility in crossing musical boundaries.
In recent years, the MCO’s major projects have included the award-winning Beethoven Journey with pianist Leif Ove Andsnes, who led the complete Beethoven concerto cycle from the keyboard in international residencies over four years, and the opera production Written on Skin , which the MCO premiered at the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence in 2012 under the baton of the composer George Benjamin. The orchestra also gave the opera’s US stage premiere at the Mostly Mozart Festival 2015, and performed a semistaged concert version of the opera on an extensive European Tour in early 2016.
The orchestra received its most significant artistic impulses from its founding mentor, Claudio Abbado, and from Conductor Laureate Daniel Harding. Pianist Mitsuko Uchida, violinist Isabelle Faust and conductor Teodor Currentzis are current Artistic Partners who inspire and shape the orchestra during long-term collaborations. In 2016, conductor Daniele Gatti was appointed Artistic Advisor of the MCO. Upon the conclusion of a complete cycle of Beethoven symphonies, Maestro Gatti and the orchestra will embark on a Schubert cycle, pairing Schubert symphonies with works from the Second Viennese School, as well as perform staged opera productions.
MCO musicians all share a strong desire to continually deepen their engagement with audiences. This has inspired a growing number of offstage musical encounters and projects that bring music, learning and creativity to communities across the globe. MCO musicians are equally committed to sharing their passion and expertise with the next generation of musicians: since 2009, they have, through the MCO Academy, worked with young musicians to provide them with a high quality orchestral experience and a unique platform for networking and international exchange.
The MCO’s upcoming tours include a range of high-profile projects, often featuring the orchestra’s partners. In September, the MCO performs a Beethoven-centred programme with Teodor Currentzis, including a concert at Beethovenfest Bonn 2016. In October, Daniel Harding returns to conduct the MCO in concerts in Germany and Italy. In October and November, Mitsuko Uchida and the MCO continue their collaboration with an extensive tour to various cities in Japan and in Europe. In December, Isabelle Faust joins the MCO in reprising their acclaimed programme combining chamber music and orchestral works in a tour to Essen, Neumarkt, Landshut and Antwerp.