Zurich Chamber Orchestra
Founded immediately after the Second World War by Edmond de Stoutz, the Zurich Chamber Orchestra is now one of the leading ensembles of its kind. Under the baton of Edmond de Stoutz and later of Howard Griffith and Muhai Tang the ensemble established and consolidated its status as a chamber orchestra of international importance.
Sir Roger Norrington has been the orchestra’s Principal Conductor since season 2011/2012. An internationally acclaimed conductor, Sir Roger is a leading figure of historically informed performance practice and continues exploring this approach in his concerts and recordings.
Regular invitations to international festivals such as the Rheingau Musikfestival, Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Settimane Musicali di Ascona and performances in the major musical centres of Europe (Berlin Philharmonie, Hamburg Laeiszhalle, Alte Oper Frankfurt, Brucknerhaus Linz), extended concert tours through various European countries (Germany, Austria, Spain, UK, Netherlands, France and Italy) as well as the United States and China bear witness to the Zurich Chamber Orchestra’s worldwide reputation. Numerous critically acclaimed CDs document the ensemble’s artistic work.
Besides cultivating a broad repertoire ranging from baroque to classical and from romantic to contemporary music, the Zurich Chamber Orchestra not only frequently attracts attention by rediscovering forgotten composers, but also by collaborating with musicians from other genres such as jazz, folk music and popular entertainment. The encouragement of young instrumentalists and prospective lovers of classical music (such as concerts for children of all ages) is important to the Zurich Chamber Orchestra, as is the continuous collaboration with internationally renowned artists for example Giuliano Carmignola, Christian Tetzlaff, Hilary Hahn, Viktoria Mullova, Renaud Capuçon, Steven Isserlis.
With a permanent ensemble of 22 string players, who are joined by additional instrumentalists when necessary, the Zurich Chamber Orchestra can adapt to the changing requirements of its multi-faceted repertoire. The ensemble can thus react flexibly to a wide variety of orchestrations, while ensuring maximum artistic continuity and consistency of sound. New stimuli for the Zurich Chamber Orchestra’s work are provided by concerts featuring internationally renowned guest conductors and first-class soloists.
Apart from the approximately 40 concerts given by the Zurich Chamber Orchestra in its home town each season, the ensemble is a regular guest at other concert venues in Switzerland as well as in the neighbouring countries. In recent years, various core themes in the orchestra’s widely varied repertoire have been developed in a convincing programme concept – and enthusiastically received by audiences. For example, during its 2001 “Mozart Festival” the Zurich Chamber Orchestra performed all the Salzburg composer’s piano concertos; in 2004, it focused on Mozart’s wind and string concertos. In 2006, the 250th anniversary year of the composer’s birth, the Zurich Chamber Orchestra presented a cross-section of Mozart’s entire oeuvre, covering all genres, including the opera fragment “L’Oca del Cairo” and a concertante performance of the musical comedy “Der Schauspieldirektor”. In 2002, a concerto cycle featuring Beethoven’s five piano concertos was performed in Zurich, Berne and Lucerne. With “ApéroConcerts”, open-air performances, children’s and Christmas concerts, the Zurich Chamber Orchestra appeals not only to classical music lovers, but also to a broader – particularly younger – audience. Matinee chamber concerts also offer the opportunity to experience Zurich Chamber Orchestra musicians at close quarters. Charity events and gala performances round off the Zurich Chamber Orchestra’s artistic activities.
Even early on in its history, the Zurich Chamber Orchestra was able to welcome guest performers who have since become legends – such as Claudio Arrau, Wilhelm Backhaus, Yehudi Menuhin or Henryk Szeryng. Artists who have collaborated with the Zurich Chamber Orchestra in the recent past, either on the concert stage or in the recording studio, include Vladimir Ashkenazy, Kathleen Battle, Joshua Bell, Rudolf Buchbinder, James Galway, Bruno Leonardo Gelber, Edita Gruberova, Elisabeth Leonskaja, Mischa Maisky, Olli Mustonen, Güher and Süher Pekinel, Mikhail Pletnev, Andreas Scholl, Gil Shaham, Lars Vogt and Thomas Zehetmair as well as musicians of the younger generation such as Till Fellner, Hilary Hahn, Julian Rachlin, Vadim Repin or Fazil Say.
As presenter of the “Meisterzyklus” concert series, the Zurich Chamber Orchestra has also secured a solid position as a concert organizer on the Swiss musical scene. In the summer of 2002, the ensemble also found a permanent home in its own “ZKO House”, which not only serves as its administrative headquarters, but also has a rehearsal and concert hall for performances on a smaller scale (also for other ensembles). The orchestra’s artistic work is promoted by the Society of Friends of the Zurich Chamber Orchestra, which currently has 1,600 members.