The Basel Sinfonietta was founded in 1980 by a group of young musicians with the goal of bringing exciting new combinations of contemporary music and works, both familiar and unknown, to an audience enthusiastic for unusual sounds and open to experimentation. With its unconventional, provocative approach, this large symphony orchestra has achieved a considerable international reputation.
In recent years, the Basel Sinfonietta has profiled itself as an innovative and flexible orchestra with outstanding projects as Decasia, an environmental symphony with projections by New York composer Michael Gordon. The Swiss composer Mela Meierhans accompanied them during the last concert season as Composer in Residence with her work différance I-V. In September 2001, the work Atempause from German composer Carola Bauckholt, a commission for the European Month of Music 2001, had its first performance. In its relatively short history, the Basel Sinfonietta has also carried out numerous performances with dancers, jazz musicians, cabaret performer and choral groups in addition to complex projects incorporating, for instance, silent movies and multimedia.
Invitations to festivals include Lucerne Festival, Biennale di Venezia, Musica Strasbourg, Tage für Neue Musik Zürich, Festival d'Automne à Paris, and Klangspuren (Austria) complete the multifarious concert projects. It is the only Swiss orchestra to be invited three times in a row to appear at the Salzburg Festival.
The Basel Sinfonietta works together with internationally active guest conductors who are invited depending on the style and staging of the project: Emilio Pomàrico, Muhai Tang, Kasper de Roo, Matthias Bamert, Jürg Wyttenbach, Olaf Henzold, Jürg Henneberger, Johannes Kalitzke, Reinbert de Leeuw, Julia Jones, Peter Rundel.