The Kammerorchester Basel (= KOB; Basel Chamber Orchestra = BCO) was founded in 1984 as the "Serenata Basel" by graduates of various Swiss conservatories, and has been performing under its current name since 1999. The orchestra's structure is unusual in that it has no principal conductor, so it can exercise full artistic control in designing and implementing its programs and concert projects. The KOB plays on modern and period instruments, which makes it unique in the orchestral landscape. The KOB now ranks as one of the most popular international chamber orchestras in Europe. With its combined program of old and new music the KOB is continuing a tradition which was successfully established in Basel by the music patron and conductor Paul Sacher.
Numerous invitations and accolades reflect the aspiration to become a tourist-friendly cultural ambassador of the city of Basel. The KOB plays 60-90 concerts per year, primarily in Europe and Switzerland. On the other hand the KOB has strong links in the region of Basel. Its own range of concerts in Basel is a fixed component of its concert tours. In recent years the KOB has achieved international recognition at many music festivals. The KOB regularly performs at renowned concert houses in European centres of music such as London, Amsterdam, Cologne, Berlin, Zurich, Munich, Vienna, Valencia and Paris. Recently the KOB received the Förderpreis der Ernst von Siemens Musikstiftung (2006) and the 1. Preis Junge Ohren for the music mediation project Windrose in cooperation with the education projects of the region of Basel (2007).
The KOB continues to work together with the conductors Giovanni Antonini, David Stern, Paul McCreesh, Kristjan Järvi and Paul Goodwin. Concerts with conductors and soloists such as Philippe Herreweghe, Cecilia Bartoli, Magdalena Kožená, Emma Kirkby, Jennifer Larmore, Andreas Scholl, Christian Tetzlaff, Julia Fischer, Daniel Hope, Matthias Goerne, Angelika Kirchschlager, Tabea Zimmermann, Renaud Capuçon, Pieter Wispelwey, Thomas Zehetmair, Giuliano Carmignola, Bobby McFerrin, Emmanuel Pahud and Sabine Meyer have been highly praised by the public and the press.
The concert performance of Georg Frideric Handelís opera Lotario (in June 2004) in Basel and at the Handel festival in Halle under the conductorship of Paul Goodwin gained international recognition. The premiering of G.F. Handelís operas in the new Halle Handel Edition continued with renderings of Riccardo Primo (2007 in Paris, Halle and Geneva) and Ezio (2009 in Schwetzingen, Herne, Vienna and Paris).
The KOB has further increased its profile as a Baroque ensemble with highly acclaimed tours and stars of the calibre of Magdalena Kožená, Cecilia Bartoli, David Daniels, Andreas Scholl and Giuliano Carmignola. The Times in London wrote the following about a concert of the Baroque formation of the KOB: "What a revelation the Basel chamber orchestra is!"
Another focus of the activities of the KOB orchestra is the full performing and recording of Beethovenís symphonies under the conductorship of Giovanni Antonini.
The KOB has a long-term cooperation with the Sony BMG music label. The fruits of this cooperation include the CD range "Neo-classic modernĒ as well as CD recordings with Angelika Kirchschlager, Marijana Mijanovic, Núria Rial and Lawrence Zazzo, the complete recording of the opera Riccardo primo (January 2008) and Concerti grossi Op. 3 (Autumn 2009) by G.F. Handel. A recording of as yet unknown overtures and concerts will be released in the spring of 2009. For its recording of Beethovenís 3rd and 4th Symphonies under the conductorship of Giovanni Antonini (Sony BMG Classical), the KOB received the award of ECHO Klassik 2008 in the category Ensemble/Orchestra of the year.
Since July 2007 Credit Suisse has been the main sponsor and partner of the KOB.