The MCO is “Canada’s tiny, perfect chamber orchestra” (Toronto Star).
It has toured widely, commissions often, embraces a diverse repertoire, and collaborates regularly with the world’s leading soloists, from James Ehnes to Marc-André Hamelin.
The orchestra, boasting a roster of some of the finest orchestral musicians in Canada, has been praised for its “satiny sound … dynamic subtlety, and an impeccable sense of ensemble” (Ottawa Citizen) and called “an excellent string ensemble conducted with crispness and verve by Anne Manson” (San Francisco Chronicle).
Established in 1972, the MCO presents nine concerts annually in Winnipeg, most of which feature guest soloists, and all of which present an accessible, eclectic repertoire ranging from the mega-hits of the common practice tradition to exciting new premieres. The rest of its energies are devoted to unfolding an extensive program of touring, recording, and outreach every year.
In 1995, the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra became the first North American orchestra to release a record with Sweden’s prestigious BIS label. Since then they’ve recorded eight albums, two of which have earned Juno nominations (So Much To Tell with Measha Brueggergosman and Troubadour & the Nightingale with Isabel Bayrakdarian). Their 2013 recording of Philip Glass music has enjoyed international acclaim.
Their first international tour was of Italy in 1999. Since then, highlight tour appearances include performing with Isabel Bayrakdarian at Carnegie Hall in 2008 and two Canadian tours with the inimitable Dame Evelyn Glennie, with whom they have recorded a CD scheduled for release in the spring of 2017.
Notable among outreach initiatives is the ‘Fiddlers on the Loose’ ensemble, taking live music on an annual basis to remote parts of the province, from Churchill to Grand Rapids, to work with and play for youth and families who face geographic and economic challenges. In a similar spirit, the MCO has embarked upon a unique collaboration with Théâtre Cercle Molière, a bilingual work that reenvisions the birth of the Métis people using myth, music, and theatre. It will première June 2017.
Anne Manson was appointed Music Director of the MCO in 2008, succeeding Roy Goodman in the post.
The MCO operates on an annual budget of just under $1 million, and has worked hard to maintain a balanced budget for the past 20 consecutive years and to build an endowment for the future. It has nearly doubled the budget in the past ten years, helping to support its international touring performances and the growing province-wide youth program.