In the 30 years of its existence, the Basel Chamber Orchestra has developed into one of the leading chamber orchestras on the international music scene. Nowadays invitations to the most important concert arenas and festivals of the European classical music scene are just as much part of the schedule as the orchestra's own subscription concerts in Basel. Diverse CD recordings with famous labels like Sony, Deutsche Harmonia Mundi, Warner Classics and OehmsClassics are evidence of the excellent quality of the orchestra.
The Basel Chamber Orchestra has a predilection for playing under the musical direction of its own concertmaster. The orchestra’s collaboration with its principal guest conductor Giovanni Antonini is especially fruitful. The highpoint of its collaboration with Antonini is the Beethoven Cycle which the orchestra and the Italian baroque specialist developed over the course of 10 years. Symphonies 1 – 8 have already been recorded by Sony; the recording of Symphonies 3 and 4 received the ‘Ensemble of the Year 2008’ award at the ECHO Klassik awards. Between now and 2032, the Basel Chamber Orchestra under Giovanni Antonini’s direction, together with the Italian ensemble ‘Il Giardino Armonico’, will take turns at performing all of Joseph Haydn’s 107 symphonies and recording them on CD.
In addition, the orchestra has a close relationship with conductors such as Trevor Pinnock, Heinz Holliger, Paul Goodwin or Mario Venzago. The list of soloists who have performed together with the orchestra is renowned: Emmanuel Pahud, Sol Gabetta, Andreas Scholl, Kristian Bezuidenhout, Matthias Goerne, Sabine Meyer, Angela Hewitt, Renaud Capuçon, Thomas Zehetmair, Sandrine Piau and many more.
The members of the orchestra are passionately committed to various projects aimed at promoting musical education in younger generations. Chamber music concerts complete its multifarious artistic activities in the city and the Basel region.
The 2015|2016 season will kick off with performances of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ under the baton of Trevor Pinnock in the Augusta Raurica Theatre. The musicians will make guest appearances, with Klaus Maria Brandauer as guest narrator, amongst other places at the Dresden Frauenkirche, the Lucerne Culture and Congress Centre and the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Festival. The orchestra will go on concert tours with Sir András Schiff and Heinz Holliger to the renowned ‘George Enescu’ Festical in Bucharest, with Sol Gabetta to Australia and with Daniel Hope to South America. The Basel Chamber Orchestra is also looking forward to working with Franco Fagioli, Renaud Capuçon, Andreas Scholl, Hélène Grimaud, Kristian Bezuidenhout and many others. The programme will include both the orchestra’s core classical repertoire with symphonies by Schubert, Haydn, Beethoven and Mozart’s piano concertos as well as a baroque programme with cantatas by Bach, arias and concertos by Handel and Lully and violin concertos from the 17th century Bolognese School. Contemporary works by Heinz Holliger and the first performance of a commissioned work for solo violin and strings by the Swiss composer Stefan Wirth will round off next season’s programme.
Since 2013 Clariant International Ltd. is presenting sponsor of the Basel Chamber Orchestra.
Born in Milan, Giovanni Antonini studied at the Civica Scuola di Musica and at the Centre de Musique Ancienne in Geneva. He is a founder member of the Baroque ensemble “il Giardino Armonico”, which he has led since 1989. With this ensemble he has appeared as conductor and soloist on the recorder and Baroque transverse flute in Europe, United States, Canada, South America, Australia, Japan and Malaysia.
He has performed with many prestigious artists including Cecilia Bartoli, Isabel Faust, Viktoria Mullova, Giuliano Carmignola, Giovanni Sollima, Sol Gabetta, Katia and Marielle Labèque, Kristian Bezuidenhout.
Antonini’s achievements have led him to be in great demand as a guest conductor with many of the leading orchestras. He is a regular guest with the Berliner Philharmoniker, Concertgebouworkest, Tonhalle Orchester, Mozarteum Orchester, Orquesta Nacional de España, Leipzig Gewandhausorchester.
His opera productions have included Mozart’s “Le Nozze di Figaro” and Handel’s “Alcina” at Teatro alla Scala in Milano; he will conduct “Alcina” again in the 2013/14 season at the Zurich Opera. In 2012 he conducted Handel’s “Giulio Cesare” with Cecilia Bartoli at the famous Salzburg Festival.
Recent engagements have included performances of Bellini’s Norma with Cecilia Bartoli at the Salzburg Festival in April/May and August 2013. In addition to this Giovanni Antonini has also recorded the same opera with Bartoli, released on the Decca Classics Label on 20 May 2013.
With il Giardino Armonico, Giovanni Antonini has recorded numerous CDs of instrumental works by Vivaldi (including The Four Seasons), other 17th and 18th Century Italian composers, J.S. Bach (Brandenburg Concertos), Biber and Locke for Teldec. With Naïve he recorded Vivaldi’s opera “Ottone in Villa”, and in the last years he has been recording with il Giardino Armonico for Decca. With the Kammerorchester Basel he is recording the complete Beethoven Symphonies; the first six have already been published.
From September 2013 he will be Artistic Director of the Wratislavia Cantans Festival in Poland.