The Württembergisches Kammerorchester Heilbronn (Württemberg Chamber Orchestra of Heilbronn) (= WKOH) was founded in 1960 by Professor Jörg Faerber and developed under his auspice in approximately 40 seasons to an ensemble highly requested all over the world. At the end of deason 2001/2002, Jörg Faerber, aged 73 years, handed over his position as principal conductor and a managing director to Ruben Gazarian, winner of the 1st International conductor competition Sir Georg Solti. Some critics call him the “young Bernstein” because of his precision and intensity as well as his directing style. It is also due to his engagement with the orchestra that the WKOH is considered one of the best ensembles of its kind in Europe and non-European countries. Gazarian has enhanced the standard repertoire of a chamber orchestra by occasional expansion of the orchestra to sinfony orchestra strength and by the choice of unknown pieces from the Romantic and Modern period and Avantgarde.
Apart from the subscription concerts in Heilbronn, the WKOH has numerous appearances in Germany and abroad each year (Europe, Japan, the USA), in particular also at music festivals: Salzburger Festspiele, Wiener Musiksommer, Carinthischer Sommer, Internationale Musikfestwochen Luzern, Flandern-Festival, Schleswig-Holstein-Festival, Schwetzinger Festspiele, Ludwigsburger Schlossfestspiele, Rheingau-Festival, Weilburger Schlossfestspiele, Settimane Musicali di Stresa, Swansea-Festival, Aldeburgh-Festival, Hiroshima-Festival a.o..
Over the decades, the WKOH has worked with artists like Martha Argerich, Maurice André, Ole Edvard Antonsen, Alfred Brendel, Rudolf Buchbinder, Julia Fischer, Justus Frantz, James Galway, Viviane Hagner, Hilary Hahn, Heinz Holliger, Sharon Kam, Gidon Kremer, Mischa Maisky, Edith Mathis, Sabine Meyer, Wolfgang Meyer, Daniel Müller-Schott, Viktoria Mullova, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Sergei Nakariakov, Christiane Oelze, Gerhard Oppitz, Michala Petri, Maria-João Pires, Cheryl Studer, Thomas Quasthoff, Frank Peter Zimmermann, Serge Zimmermann as well as Tabea Zimmermann.
The discography contains persently more than 500 pieces. Live recordings of concerts and TV broadcasts give proof of the orchestra’s quality. The multi-awarded documentation on Martha Argerich “Conversation nocturne” by Georges Gachot shows the Württembergische Kammerorchester during rehearsals for Robert Schumann’s Piano Concerto in a minor.
In May 2004 the WKOH offers a varied programme (concerts of W.A. Mozart, F. Danzi and J. Haydn) together with Stefan Schilli, Wolfgang Meyer, Marco Postinghel and Christian Lampert in several German cities. Also in May, the orchestra is twice guest at the international Bodenseefestival, on May 15, 2004 in Bad Wurzach and on May 19, 2004 in Pfullendorf.
In co-operation with the National University for Music Karlsruhe, several performances of Felix Mendelssohn’s A Summernight’s Dream will take place in June 2004. Towards the end of this season (2003-2004), appearances with the Weilburger Schlosskonzerte (a.o. with the pianist Rudolf Buchbinder and Gewandthaus-Quartett Leipzig), the Hohenloher Musiksommer, the Klosterfestspielen Maulbronn and engagements as "Orchestra in residence" at the Homburger Schlosskonzerte are scheduled.