The AUSTRALIAN CHAMBER ORCHESTRA was founded in 1975 in Sydney. Every year, this ensemble presents performances of the highest standard to audiences around the world, including 10,000 subscribers across Australia. The ACO’s unique artistic style encompasses not only the masterworks of the classical repertoire, but innovative cross-artform projects and a vigorous commissioning program.
The outstanding Australian musician Richard Tognetti was appointed as artistic director and leader in 1990. Under his inspiring leadership, the ACO has performed as a flexible and versatile “ensemble of soloists,” on modern and period instruments, as a small chamber group, a small symphony orchestra, and as an electro-acoustic collective. In a nod to past traditions, only the cellists are seated – the resulting sense of energy and individuality is one of the most commented-upon elements of an ACO concert experience.
Regular international tours to Asia, Europe, and the U.S. have drawn outstanding reviews for the ACO’s performances at many of the world’s prestigious concert halls, including Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, London’s Wigmore Hall, New York’s Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, Vienna’s Musikverein, Birmingham’s Symphony Hall, and Washington, D.C.’s Kennedy Center. Recent festival appearances include the BBC Proms, Tanglewood, Ravinia, Interlochen, and New York’s Mostly Mozart. The Australian Government recognizes the ACO’s achievements by designating it as an international flagship arts company.
The ACO’s dedication and musicianship has created warm relationships with such celebrated soloists as Steven Isserlis, Dawn Upshaw, Imogen Cooper, Angela Hewitt, Ivry Gitlis, Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, and Emmanuel Pahud. In 2008, guest artists included Melvyn Tan, Katie Noonan, Alina Ibragimova, and John Storgårds.
In recent years, the ACO has made a number of acclaimed recordings, for labels including Sony, Channel Classics, Hyperion, EMI, Chandos, and Orfeo. In 2005 the Orchestra collaborated with pianist Angela Hewitt on the final installment of her 10-year project to record all of Bach’s keyboard music. This double-CD set for Hyperion was “CD of the Month” for Gramophone magazine. Similar critical praise was lavished on the ACO’s recording with Emmanuel Pahud of Vivaldi’s flute concertos for EMI. Richard Tognetti and the ACO have recorded Bach’s violin concertos for ABC Classics (2006), including the double concertos with Helena Rathbone, violin, and with Diana Doherty, oboe. In 2008 the Orchestra appeared on another recording for BIS with Christian Lindberg.