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The ECO visit Calabria in a final tour before Christmas

Submitted on: 19 December 2012

Tomorrow the ECO heads for some southern Italian sunshine, flying to Calabria for a concert on Friday 21 December at the Teatro Politeama in Catanzaro presented by the Armonie D'Arte Festival.

Stephanie Gonley will direct the concert from her leader's chair.

The programme includes Schubert's Symphony No. 5 in Bb, Tchaikovsky's Andante Cantabile and Nocturne with ECO's principal cellist Caroline Dale, and Mozart's Concerto for Piano No. 14 in Eb, with piano soloist Chiara Giordano, director of the festival. We look forward to experiencing the 'city of two seas', the Ionian coast and a brand new, state-of-the art concert venue!

For more information on the festival:

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Success at the Rostropovich Festival in Azerbaijan

Submitted on: 10 December 2012

The ECO made a triumphant return visit to Azerbaijan for a concert on 7th December in the 6th Rostropovich International Music Festival to be held in Baku.

Maxim Vengerov was conductor and soloist, joined by John Mills in Bach's Concerto for two violins and by Plamena Mangova and Mikhail Gaiduk (trumpet) for Shostakovich's Piano Concerto no.1.  The capacity audience was unreservedly enthusiastic about every piece we performed.

The Azerbaijan State Philharmonic Hall was as beautiful (acoustically as well as architecturally) as we remembered it from our previous visit, and the sun shone warmly throughout our trip (Baku is on the Caspian Sea and enjoys a temperate climate).  The locals were unfailingly courteous and the city full of surprises, with many new buildings having sprung up in the three years since our first visit;  but the old walled city, with its famous Maiden Tower landmark, is still the jewel in Baku's crown.

It's an exciting city and an enterprising festival (jointly run by the Rostoprovich Foundation, the Heydar Aliyev Foundation and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism for the Republic of Azerbaijan).  We look forward to a return visit to its sister festival, the Moscow Rostropovich International Music Festival, for a concert of Britten and Mozart in April 2013.

For a short video including footage of this year's Festival, visit:

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ECO returns to Azerbaijan

Submitted on: 03 December 2012

On December 6 the ECO sets off for its second visit to the Rostropovich Festival in Baku, Azerbaijan.  Three years ago the Orchestra performed two concerts in the first Baku Rostropovich Festival with Pinchas Zukerman, Amanda Forsyth and Paul Watkins;  this visit sees Maxim Vengerov as soloist and conductor.  ECO co-leader John Mills will join Vengerov as soloist in Bach's Concerto for two violins, and Plamena Mangova will be the piano soloist in Shostakovich's Concerto No.1.  The programme also includes Vengerov playing Mozart's Violin Concerto K.218 as well as two works which he performed to great acclaim in the ECO's Celebration Concert at London's Royal Festival Hall in October:  Massenet's Meditation from Thais and Ravel's Tzigane.

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With Strings Attached

Submitted on: 12 November 2012

In September we embarked on a new chamber music project in collaboration with Awards for Young Musicians. We are approaching our second rehearsal and plans are being finalised for the performance to be given by the first ensemble With Strings Attached, as a Prelude to our evening concert on December 2nd, at Cadogan Hall.  The project gives the young musicians the opportunity to rehearse and perform in the same way that a professional chamber ensemble might do; combining concentrated rehearsal time, personal practice and a lot of fun in the process. Each of the four projects will feature a different instrumental combination. The first of the four groups, the string ensemble With Strings Attached, held the first of its sessions at the end of September at the Royal College of Music. In the coming months three more groups will be created: Ensemble Classique in spring Celebrations of Diversity in summer and Le Swing in autumn 2013.


Beverley Mason, a trustee of AYM, who has been supporting the project; attending rehearsals and liaising between AYM, ECO and the young musicians, made the following comments.  ‘As part of our goal to create new musical education development and performance opportunities, we launched the first of our English Chamber Orchestra ensembles in September With Strings Attached. Thanks to generous funding by the Elias Fawcett Trust, we have been able to establish a brand new orchestral chamber music programme in collaboration with the ECO. This is our first formal ensemble opportunity for AYM awardees and we hope to be able to extend opportunities like this with other organisations. It’s particularly rewarding to work with the ECO musicians in their 50th anniversary year. We are liaising with their Close Encounters education and outreach team who are coaching and rehearsing groups of our young awardees in four distinctive chamber music ensembles; each will then perform in a Prelude concert on stage before one of the ECO’s own evening concerts.’


Close Encounters is the English Chamber Orchestra’s education and outreach programme, which has been running since 1997.  From its inception, the aim has been to involve young people in a close encounter with the creation and enjoyment of music.  Our projects transcend boundaries of background, ability, culture and geography and hold with the ancient Chinese Proverb. ‘Tell me and I’ll forget, show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.’ This project is consistent with our aims, and ECO was delighted to be invited to coach and rehearse groups AYM’s talented young musicians. 


Jeremy Isaac, who is coaching the ensemble said, ‘…as a state educated child I believe strongly in giving something back to the community and I am committed to the idea that classical music should be available to all.’  Watching him encouraging the young musicians to achieve excellence in their ensemble, is inspiring; his passion for music and sense of humour are infectious and the young people are responding with enthusiasm.

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Conservatorio di Milano

Submitted on: 22 September 2012

Our Conductor Emeritus and long-time friend of the Orchestra, Sir Colin Davis, was taken ill in Milan yesterday morning and spent the day in hospital. Sadly there was no question of him being able to conduct our concert for the MiTo Settembre Musica Festival last night. It was too short notice to find a replacement conductor who would be acceptable to the Festival, but they agreed to go ahead with the same programme directed by our talented guest leader Andrew Haveron. Sir Colin had already rehearsed the programme in London; although familiar to everyone, Schubert's Unfinished Symphony and Mendelssohn's Hebrides Overture and Italian Symphony are not easy to perform without conductor (likewise the overture to The Marriage of Figaro, our encore which the musicians dedicated to Sir Colin). However the concert was an astounding success and a fitting tribute to Sir Colin and the esteem in which he is held by our players, as well as a reminder that the ECO is a remarkable orchestra. We wish Colin a very speedy recovery and hope to see him back on the podium soon.

Pauline Gilbertson, General Manager

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ECO London Series
London Series
Maxim Vengerov will conduct and play in the ECO's opening concert of the 2012/13 season, with guest soloists Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and Behzod Abduraimov. This special Celebration Concert will take place on Monday 1st October 2012 at London's Royal Festival Hall. See ECO concerts diary for further details.