Mission and History

Baltimore Chamber Orchestra’s first performance, led by Maestra Anne Harrigan, was on January 29, 1984. She introduced the audience to a classical orchestra offering virtuoso performances that touch the heart.

From its beginning, Baltimore Chamber Orchestra has grown to occupy an essential niche in the thriving arts scene of greater Baltimore. Our core repertoire is the overtures, concertos, and symphonies of Classical Era masters Haydn, Mozart Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Schubert, which we perform with the actual sized ensemble for which it was composed. BCO remains a group of exceptional musicians who are passionate about their performances. Indeed, the orchestra strives to meet the same standard established at its inception in 1984: to provide accessible, high-quality, classical music with an intimate touch.

Markand Thakar joined BCO as music director in June 2004. Maestro Thakar made his debut with the New York Philharmonic in 1997 and has since appeared with that orchestra multiple times, along with numerous orchestras across North America. Former music director of the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra and principal conductor of Duluth Festival Opera, he is co-director of graduate conducting at the Peabody Conservatory and the author of two seminal works: Counterpoint: Fundamentals of Music Making (Yale University Press, 1990) and Looking for the “Harp” Quartet: An Investigation into Musical Beauty (University of Rochester Press, 2011). Since the 2009-10 season, Maestro Thakar’s annual intensive conducting programs bring dozens of conductors from around the world to work with him and the BCO musicians.

Jonathan Leshnoff joined the orchestra as Composer in Residence in 2007, and BCO welcomed Baltimore Symphony associate concertmaster Madeline Adkins as our concertmaster in 2009.

BCO continues to achieve new heights. In recent seasons the orchestra has recorded three CDs for the Naxos label, given five concerts on tour in China, presented a New York debut warmly received by The New York Times, and performed on University of Delaware Masterplayers series.

The orchestra comprises 40 of the area’s best professional musicians performing in concert venues seating fewer than 1,000, which offers each audience member the opportunity to experience music-making at an intimate level. A committed and enthusiastic Board of Trustees includes community leaders, philanthropic advisors, and music lovers. Creative partnerships with businesses and media in the region contribute to the visibility and accessibility of the orchestra.