Chamber Orchestra of Europe

We fund the acclaimed orchestra, which brings together almost 60 musicians from Europe and performs across the continent. Its education and outreach programme also helps young people and new audiences experience live orchestra and chamber music.

Chamber Orchestra of Europe
Chamber Orchestra of Europe

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In the early 1980s, 35 musicians in the European Community Youth Orchestra reached its upper age limit, but wanted to keep playing together, both in the spirit of friendship and through excitement at the potential of a new orchestra drawing on talent from across Europe. Their idea was of musicians pursuing solo careers in different countries before coming together each year for tours, and in 1981 the Chamber Orchestra of Europe was formed.

The model creates a freshness in performance, born of the variety of experiences brought together each time the orchestra meets.

But it also creates logistical challenges and high costs, with musicians travelling from all over Europe and the world for rehearsals and performances. Indeed, for their first concert - in London in 1981 - orchestra members paid to play. Gatsby has since supported the Orchestra financially, ensuring it can continue its activities.

The Orchestra is now made up of about 60 core members, all with parallel careers, including as soloists, national orchestra principals and teachers. It performs across Europe and has made more than 250 recordings, winning two Grammys. It also has an active education and outreach programme which helps young people and new audiences experience live orchestra and chamber music.

In 2009 Gatsby helped fund the creation of the COE Academy to cater for exceptionally talented students. Scholarships are awarded each year allowing a select group to study with the principal players of the Orchestra while it is touring.