Founded in 1990, the Nordic Chamber Orchestra from Sundsvall in Sweden is the youngest professional chamber orchestra in the Nordic countries. Right from the start, the orchestra has made a speciality of performing new music from the Nordic Countries, combining this with the classical repertoire for chamber orchestra and musical productions for children.
Recordings have also played an important part in the success of the orchestra. Under its first chief conductor Niklas Willén the Nordic Chamber Orchestra started a collaboration with the famous BIS label producing pioneering CDs of new or neglected scores that were enthusiastically received by the international press. The orchestra has furthered its reputation with very well-received CDs for Caprice, Phono Suecia and Naxos.
During the 14 years of its existence the Nordic Chamber Orchestra has probably done more than any other orchestra to promote new Swedish music. By collaborating extensively with young composers such as Brita Byström, Fredrik Högberg, Daniel Nelson and Jörgen Dafgård at an early stage of their careers, the orchestra has helped them to establish themselves on the very competitive contemporary music scene. But the Nordic Chamber Orchestra has also commissioned new works by established composers such as Pär Lindgren, Jan Sandström, Daniel Börtz, André Chini, Karin Rehnqvist, Henrik Strindberg and Hans Gefors.
In 1996 the orchestra enjoyed great success with the trombone concerto “Islands” by Pär Lindgren during a tour of Great Britain which including the prestigious Cheltenham and Exeter festivals. The Nordic Chamber Orchestra also collaborated with the London Symphony Orchestra in a very successful educational project in the London suburb of Blackheath, based on Jan Sandström’s, “Wahlberg Variations”.
The orchestra has commissioned works from well-known jazz artists such as Esbjörn Svensson, Jonas Knutsson and Mikael Råberg and has collaborated very successfully with the well-known French-African world-music artist Ray Lema. “The Dream of the Gazelle”, a commissioned piece for orchestra, singers and the composer playing the piano, even reached the number four spot on the World Music List!
The Nordic Chamber Orchestra is currently collaborating with the Conducting Class at Stockholm’s Royal College of Music in providing opportunities for young conductors to improve their skills together with the orchestra.
An important part of the work of the Nordic Chamber Orchestra is in reaching new audiences. Thus the orchestra’s projects involving children are not only as an opportunity to share music making with the younger generation, but also a vital part of the musicians’ own development. In Scandinavia they are leading the way in this field. The young audiences are treated with the greatest possible respect. It is important to give them the best of high quality music.
The Nordic Chamber Orchestra is in the front line when it comes to crossover music. Besides the jazz and world music projects already mentioned, the orchestra has worked together with rock groups and folklore groups; always curious and eager to create something new.
After the first seven years during which the orchestra established itself as a pioneering body with a special interest in young Scandinavian composers and in working with children and other new audiences, the orchestra entered a new era under Christopher Warren-Green who was their chief conductor from 1998 to 2004. By concentrating on the classical repertoire he gave the orchestra its status as one of the finest interpreters of classical repertoire in Scandinavia with praised performances of symphonies by Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Mozart and Haydn.