Founded in 1997, the Mahler Chamber Orchestra is based on the shared vision of being a free and international ensemble, dedicated to creating and sharing exceptional experiences in classical music. With 45 members spanning 20 different countries at its core, the MCO works as a nomadic collective of passionate musicians uniting for specific tours in Europe and across the world.
The orchestra is constantly on the move: it has, to date, performed in more than 40 countries across five continents. It is governed collectively by its management team and orchestra board; 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, ranging from the Viennese classical and early Romantic periods to contemporary works and world premieres, reflects the MCO’s agility in crossing musical boundaries.
The orchestra received its most significant artistic impulses from its founding mentor, Claudio Abbado, and from Conductor Laureate Daniel Harding. The MCO works closely with a network of artistic partners who inspire and shape the orchestra in long-term collaborations. Current MCO artistic partners include pianists Mitsuko Uchida and Leif Ove Andsnes, as well as violinist Pekka Kuusisto and conductor Teodor Currentzis. Concertmaster Matthew Truscott leads the ensemble regularly in chamber orchestra repertoire.
MCO musicians all share a strong desire to 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. The project "Unboxing Mozart" creates a convergence of classical music, collaborative performance and urban gaming by inviting audiences to participate in the artistic process through sound boxes. Since 2012, "Feel the Music" has opened the world of music to deaf and hard of hearing children through interactive workshops in schools and concert halls.
MCO musicians are 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 platform for networking and international exchange.
The Mahler Chamber Orchestra’s current flagship projects include a five-year partnership with Mitsuko Uchida, centered on Mozart’s piano concertos and featured in residencies at Salzburg’s Mozartwoche, London’s Southbank Centre and New York’s Carnegie Hall; Mozart Momentum 1785/1786, a four-year performing and recording project with Leif Ove Ansdnes, the MCO’s first artistic partner, examining two remarkable years of Mozart’s life. and an exploration of musical styles and concert formats with Pekka Kuusisto. A focus on symphonic repertoire characterizes the MCO’s longstanding collaboration with conductor Daniele Gatti.
After its celebrated premiere of the opera Written on Skin at Festival d’Aix-en-Provence in 2012 under the baton of composer George Benjamin, the Mahler Chamber Orchestra continues to bring his works to stages around the world.