The Swedish Chamber Orchestra (Svenska Kammarorkestern; = SKO) is Scandinavia's only full-time professional chamber orchestra. It was established in May 1995 as the resident chamber orchestra for the Örebro municipality in Sweden by merging a string orchestra, the Örebro Kammarorkester (Örebro Chamber Orchestra) with a wind ensemble, the Örebro Kammarblåsare (Örebro Wind Ensemble). The Swedish Chamber Orchestra has a busy schedule of subscription concerts at its home, the Örebro Konserthus, as well as schools concerts and tours, both national and international. In autumn 1997 Thomas Dausgaard was appointed to the position of Music Director. For the past 13 years Dausgaard and the ensemble have worked closely together to create their own unique and refreshing sound and the orchestra’s quick rise to success has put it firmly on the international scene.
A tightly knit ensemble of 38 regular members, the Swedish Chamber Orchestra made its USA and UK debuts with Thomas Dausgaard in 2004 performing at the London Proms and Lincoln Center, Mostly Mozart Festival. The New York Times wrote of their performance: “It has been a longstanding complaint in the classical music world that as recordings and jet travel have shrunk the globe, an international sound has been fostered that has filtered out regional differences in timbre and interpretation ... And every now and then an orchestra comes along with a sound that is surprising and fresh. The Swedish Chamber Orchestra, led by its music director, Thomas Dausgaard, produced a distinctive and consistently vibrant sound ... Mr Dausgaard made the Beethoven into a high-energy dazzler, driven by sizzlingly brisk string playing, with biting brass figures giving the music a stormy edge and making the neglected Fourth Symphony seem nearly as titanic as the Third and the Fifth."
Since 2004 the Swedish Chamber Orchestra has toured regularly throughout Europe and returned to the USA in 2008 for performances in New York, Washington, Cleveland and across West Coast America. Tour highlights in 2010 include performances this March in Vienna (Musikverein), Düsseldorf and Cologne with H K Gruber and violinist Leila Josefowicz and a major summer tour with Thomas Dausgaard and soprano Nina Stemme which marks the orchestra’s debut at the Salzburg International Festival.
Alongside their work with Thomas Dausgaard, the Swedish Chamber Orchestra regularly performs with conductor / composer HK Gruber and early music specialist, Andrew Manze, both of whom spend several weeks a year in Örebro working on new programmes with the ensemble. Through its high level of engagement the orchestra has additionally built up a first class list of visiting artists which this season includes Nikolaj Znaider, Angela Hewitt, Gerhard Oppitz, Lawrence Renes, Brett Dean, Leila Josefowicz, Håkan Hardenberger, Francois Leleux, Lionel Bringuier, Iris Vermillion, Katarina Karneus and Nina Stemme.
The Swedish Chamber Orchestra has a world-wide distribution of more than 35 CD’s made by BIS Records, Simax, Naxos Records and Hyperion Records. Together with Dausgaard the ensemble has recorded the complete L.v. Beethoven Orchestral works for Simax and embarked on a new project with BIS which includes all the symphonies of Schumann as well Dvorak Symphonies Nos. 6 & 9. This Spring sees their fourth release in the “Opening Doors” series with a recording of Schubert’s Symphonies Nos. 8 & 9 and this Autumn a further release of Bruckner Symphony No. 2.
The Swedish Chamber Orchestra is working hard on the “surprising" and “fresh" sound accredited to them and is constantly looking at expanding its repertoire and opening new doors to further challenges. With its range of repertoire and styles the ensemble has established its own unique voice. As The Daily Telegraph commented “Imagine the London Sinfonietta crossed with say the Orchestra of the Age of Englightenment and you might come up with something near the flexibility offered by the Swedish Chamber Orchestra."