Zürcher Kammerorchester (Zurich Chamber Orchestra; = ZKO), is a Swiss chamber orchestra based in Zürich. The ZKO's principal concert venue in Zürich is the Tonhalle. The ZKO also performs in Zurich at the Rietberg Museum, the ZKO-Haus in the Seefeld quarter of the city, and such churches as the Fraumünster and the Kirche St. Peter. The ZKO presents approximately 40 performances in Zürich each year, in addition to performances elsewhere in Switzerland and abroad. The core of the ZKO consists of 22 string players, with other sections (woodwinds, strings, brass, harp, percussion, and keyboard) used as needed.
Edmond de Stoutz founded the ZKO in the aftermath of World War II, and led its first concerts in 1945. He served as Artistic Leader and Principal Conductor of the ZKO until 1996. He commissioned many works, including Frank Martin's Polyptyque for violin and two small string orchestras (1973) or Peter Mieg's Concerto for oboe and orchestra (1957).
In 1996, Howard Griffiths assumed the post of Artistic Director and served until 2006. Muhai Tang, the ZKO's third Principal Conductor and Artistic Director from 2006 through 2011; now has the title of Principal Guest Conductor with the ZKO. The ZKO is now one of the leading ensembles of its kind. Under the baton of its first 3 Aristic Directors/Principal Conductors the ensemble established and consolidated its status as a chamber orchestra of international importance. Regular invitations to international festivals, performances in the major musical centres of Europe, extended concert tours through various European countries as well as the USA and China bear witness to the ZKO’s worldwide reputation. In the USA, the ZKO first appeared in New York City in 1964. The ZKO made its Boston debut in 1967 for the Peabody Mason Concert series.
In January 2010, the ZKO announced the appointment of Sir Roger Norrington as its fourth Principal Conductor, as of the 2011-2012 season, with an initial contract of 3 years. In various specialities, the ZKO enjoys particular collaborations in Baroque music with Maurice Steger and in modern music with Jörg Widmann.
Besides cultivating a broad repertoire ranging from Baroque to classical and from romantic to contemporary music, the ZKO not only frequently attracts attention by rediscovering forgotten composers, but also by collaborating with musicians from other genres such as jazz, folk music and popular entertainment. The encouragement of young instrumentalists and prospective lovers of classical music (such as concerts for children of all ages) is important to the ZKO, as is the continuous collaboration with internationally renowned artists.
The ZKO has made commercial recordings for such labels as Omega, Novalis, Claves, Teldec and CPO. umerous critically acclaimed CD’s document the ensemble’s artistic work.