Mission and History
The mission of the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra is to move, inspire, and educate Baltimore’s community through world-class performances.
Founded in 1984, the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra (BCO) is a distinguished, vibrant ensemble with a 40-year history of presenting high-quality performances that have significantly enhanced the cultural vibrancy of Baltimore and its surrounding communities. Characterized by its reputation for artistic excellence, community programs, and a commitment to nurturing both established and emerging talent, the BCO attracts world-class soloists, composers, and conductors, performing a wide range of classical and contemporary works. BCO has commissioned numerous works from contemporary composers, recorded and released professional albums, and embarked on successful national and international tours, further establishing its reputation on the global stage.
Since its first performance on January 29, 1984, led by Maestra Anne Harrigan, the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra has grown to occupy an essential niche in Baltimore’s thriving arts scene. The “chamber” refers to the orchestra’s smaller size. Instead of having a large number of musicians like you might see in a big symphony orchestra, a chamber orchestra typically has fewer players, like a “small but mighty” musical team where each player has a specific role and work closely together to make musical magic in a more intimate and approachable way.
Maestro Markand Thakar succeeded Anne Harrigan as Music Director in June 2004 leading BCO to flourish as one of the Mid Atlantic’s most vital cultural institutions through key artistic appointments of luminaries such as Jonathan Leshnoff, named BCO’s Composer in Residence in 2007; violinist Madeline Adkins, BCO’s former Concertmaster and currently the Utah Symphony ‘s Concertmaster; New York Philharmonic violinist Audrey Wright, BCO’s Concertmaster since the fall of 2019; the Stulberg International String Competition; and many more. In recent seasons the orchestra has recorded three CDs released by Naxos Records, gave five concerts on tour in China, presented a New York debut praised by The New York Times, performed on the University of Delaware’s Masterplayers series, and hosted several workshops for emerging conductors from across the globe.
The orchestra’s roster features forty of the area’s best professional musicians who perform in the 973-seat Kraushaar Auditorium at Goucher College. A committed and enthusiastic Board of Trustees composed of 17 community leaders grounded in their dedication to artistic innovation, education, and community engagement oversee the organization’s operations, generate numerous partnerships to expand the visibility of the orchestra, and ensure BCO’s legacy as a cherished and enduring presence in the nation’s classical music scene.