The Netherlands Chamber Orchestra gives on average 25 concerts per year in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, the hall it considers its artistic home. The orchestra also appears in Holland’s other concert halls and makes frequent foreign tours. Almost 200,000 audience members attend performances of the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra and the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra each year; this number includes audiences for the two orchestras’ opera performances. The artistic director and concertmaster of the orchestra is master violinist Gordan Nikolić.
The Netherlands Chamber Orchestra was founded in 1955 and gave its first concert during the Holland Festival of that same year. The legendary violinist, conductor and teacher Szymon Goldberg was the ensemble’s musical director for its first 22 years, with David Zinman as deputy. Playing as an ensemble — mostly without a lead imposed by a conductor — was one of Goldberg’s most important concerns; his unique manner of working transformed the orchestra into one of the world’s best chamber orchestras. Antoni Ros-Marbà extended the orchestra’s reputation even further, leading the orchestra from 1979 to 1986.
When the NCO’s administrative merger with the Stichting Nederlands Philharmonisch Orkest took place twenty-five years ago, one of its central obligations became the accompaniment of operas produced by De Nederlandse Opera. DNO thus benefited from an ideal situation in which it had a specialised orchestra available for the performance of Classical opera, chamber opera and new music theatre works for smaller ensembles.
The Chamber Orchestra nonetheless proudly confirms its own identity in concerts in the Concertgebouw and other important halls both in the Netherlands and abroad; the traditions originally laid down by Goldberg have been continued since 2004 by the renowned violinist Gordan Nikolić, the orchestra’s artistic director and concertmaster. Our audiences know that such a manner of working results in unusually powerful music-making; the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra’s democratic working practices have created a much-praised ensemble style that is unique and regarded as exemplary by other orchestras around the world. CD recordings made by the orchestra such as their versions of the Schubert symphonies and the Mozart violin concertos with Julia Fischer as soloist regularly receive high praise in international music magazines.
Whether the orchestra performs contemporary or 18th century works, its uniquely adventurous way of making music enables it to go far beyond the notes on the page and to make each piece sound new and urgently relevant. Each of its concerts is breathlessly awaited; we are therefore certain that this unique ensemble will continue to provide extraordinary musical moments far into the future.
The NCO had created much international interest during its extended concert tours to the USA, Central and South America, Canada, Australia, Japan, China and almost every European country. The orchestra is a welcome guest at many of the world’s greatest festivals, including the Wiener Festwochen, the Prager Frühling, the Edinburgh Festival, the Festival de Granada, La Folle Journée in Nantes and the Rheingau Festival.
The Netherlands Chamber Orchestra performed the complete Mozart violin concertos under Yakov Kreizberg and with violinist Julia Fischer as soloist in successive evenings in the Alte Oper in Frankfurt as well as in Madrid during April 2010.