The English Chamber Orchestra is the most recorded chamber orchestra in the world, its discography containing 857 recordings of over 1,500 works by more than 400 composers.
The ECO has also performed in more countries than any other orchestra, and played with many of the world’s greatest musicians. The American radio network CPRN has selected ECO as one of the world’s greatest ‘living’ orchestras. 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. Paul Watkins has been the ECO’s Music Director and Principal Conductor since 2009, and Sir Colin Davis was appointed Conductor Emeritus in 2010.
The ECO is resident orchestra for Grange Park Opera’s summer season. Other regular activities include the ECO’s London concert series and an annual music cruise where it is joined by a host of international guest artists. Tours this season have included Austria (with Sir Colin Davis), Romania (with Roy Goodman), two tours to Germany (Pinchas Zukerman and Stephanie Gonley) and Azerbaijan (with Paul Watkins and Pinchas Zukerman). Last month the Orchestra made a very successful debut in Moscow (with Stephanie Gonley as director and Sergej Krylov as soloist), as well as enjoying tours to Istanbul and Spain. Tours planned for later this year include return visits to France and South Korea, whilst plans for 2011 include a tour of the Far East with Hilary Hahn and tours to Spain, Finland, France, Germany and St Petersburg.
Recent tours have included a highly acclaimed concert in Bregenz, Austria with Howard Shelley; Azerbaijan and Germany (with Pinchas Zukerman and Paul Watkins); Moscow (with Sergej Krylov), Austria (with Sir Colin Davis) and Bermuda Festival (with Vladimir Ashkenazy). 2010/11 season includes two tours to the Far East (Hilary Hahn and Dong-Suk Kang), the ECO’s first tour to Egypt and several European tours including concerts in Switzerland, Germany and France with Anna Netrebko and Paul Watkins. Future plans include tours with Ann-Sophie Mutter and Yuri Bashmet, Lisa Batiashvili and Daniel Muller-Schott, and a major celebration of the music of Benjamin Britten in 2013 (his centenary year).
The ECO has been chosen to record many successful film soundtracks (including several scores by John Barry and Dario Marianelli’s prizewinning soundtracks for 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. Further details of this and all ECO activities can be found at www.englishchamberorchestra.co.uk. You can also now become a fan of ECO on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @ECOrchestra, and keep up to date with the Orchestra’s movements on tour in the UK and overseas.