The Irish Chamber Orchestra (= ICO) is a highly distinguished ensemble of professional Irish and international string players, committed to excellence in the performance of classical and contemporary music. The ICO was founded in 1963 by Hungarian-born conductor János Fürst.
The ICO is based at the Irish World Music Centre at the heart of the emerging College of Performing Arts at the University of Limerick and performs regularly in Limerick, Dublin and Cork as well as regular international tours. This orchestra has built a reputation for the highest level of musical excellence. Having consolidated it reputation as not just Ireland’s premier ensemble, but one of the finest of its kind in the world, word is fast spreading globally. Recent tours include concerts throughout the expanded EU, Australia and a ground-breaking tour of South Korea and China. Last year the orchestra received critical acclaim for their debut at the Konzerthaus in Berlin. Maxim Vengerov, Nigel Kennedy, Steven Isserlis and Sinéad O’Connor are just some of the celebrity artists who have welcomed an invitation to work with the ICO in the last couple of years.
The ICO has received plaudits both at home and abroad for sustaining the highest artistic standards. The ICO offers a new and refreshing perspective on the chamber music repertoire through an energetic and unique approach to performance. Activities include a busy concert schedule at both national and international levels; commissioning and performing new work by Irish and international composers; recording classical and contemporary works; organizing the Killaloe International Music Festival and managing a comprehensive schools and community outreach programme. The Festival has attracted musicians of the highest calibre from the USA.
For many years the Irish Chamber Orchestra only had string players under contract. In 2008 this expanded to include oboes and horns. The orchestra currently has 20 players under contract, but in most concerts the ensemble grows to include extra players - more strings, wind, brass and percussion.
Internationally renowned violinist Anthony Marwood was appointed Artistic Director in January 2006, succeeding Nicholas McGegan. Marwood's tenure includes the artistic directorship of the orchestra's annual MBNA Shannon International Music Festival. The orchestra has already established special links with American soloists as the first two recipients of the Ardán Award, given annually by Artistic Director Anthony Marwood to a young emerging international soloist, have both hailed from the USA. The ICO is funded by The Arts Council / An Chomhairle Ealaíon.