Renowned for its exceptionally creative programming and the homogeneity of timbre that can only come from a long history of making music together – over sixty-five years after its foundation in the aftermath of war the MKO is blazing a trail for orchestras in Germany and beyond. In the last few years the orchestra has increased its subscription ticketholders by over fifty percent, notwithstanding the ambitious content of its programmes.
Since the beginning of the 2016/17 season, Bremen-born Clemens Schuldt is the new principle conductor. He also heads the artistic planning committee, which has, besides himself, two members nominated by the orchestra and two from the management team. Under his leadership the MKO will continue to present daring, associative programmes combining works from the past and the present. With no aesthetic preconceptions and a love of experimentation Schuldt and the orchestra will continue to place their trust in the sheer impact and emotional intensity of contemporary music. Concepts such as Eastwards, Drama, Childhood, Isolation and Reformation have set the ensemble’s course in recent seasons; in 2018/19 the focus will be on the idea of Vorwiegend Heiter.
The core of the ensemble consists of twenty-eight string players, all full members of the MKO. In collaboration with a fixed pool of elite principal wind players from Europe’s leading orchestras, the MKO performs as a slender symphony orchestra that can also make its mark with major works by Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann and others. An important component in both the orchestra’s subscription series and invitation concerts elsewhere are the programmes directed by either one of the orchestra’s two concertmasters. On those evenings the unconditional commitment and shared sense of responsibility of all the musicians can come across with particular intensity.
Founded in 1950 by Christoph Stepp, four decades in the life of the MKO from 1956 onwards were shaped by Hans Stadlmair. After ten years at the helm (1995–2006), Christoph Poppen was succeeded by Alexander Liebreich as Artistic Director of the MKO. The orchestra gratefully acknowledges funding from the City of Munich, the State of Bavaria and the Region of Upper Bavaria. Since 2006/7 European Computer Telecoms AG (ECT) has, with great generosity, been the orchestra’s main sponsor.
The MKO is a modern, flexible ensemble that has developed a wide range of activities in addition to its various subscription series. Each year the orchestra presents around sixty concerts in major venues across the world. Past tours have taken the orchestra to Asia, Spain, Scandinavia, South America and more. The MKO has also undertaken several tours in collaboration with the Goethe Institut, including a concert tour to Moscow and its ground-breaking workshops and concert in North Korea in autumn 2012, when the orchestra performed side by side with North Korean music students. Also the residence of the orchestra in Cartagena takes place on behalf of the Goethe Institut.
Photo by Sammy Hart