English Chamber Orchestra gets an artistic director

English Chamber Orchestra gets an artistic director


norman lebrecht

May 23, 2016

Quin Ballardie stays in control, but violist Lawrence Power becomes artistic director from next season. A small step for an orchestra that sometimes feels it’s from another era. Press release below.

lawrence power

From Quintin Ballardie, ECO

“In 1960 I founded, with my friend Dr Ursula Strebi, the English Chamber Orchestra as it is today.  I am very pleased to announce the exciting news that my colleague Lawrence Power, surely now one of the foremost violists and musicians in the world, has graciously accepted to become the Artistic Director of our English Chamber Orchestra Charitable Trust.  It goes without saying that when I announced this to our, all important colleagues in the Orchestra they were equally thrilled. We all wish him every success in his many and varied future activities with the Orchestra”.

Quintin Ballardie OBE FRAM, Managing Director

Lawrence Power writes

 “ I am delighted to have been appointed Artistic Director of The English Chamber Orchestra Charitable Trust from the 2016/17 season. It is well known that this is an orchestra with an extraordinary heritage having performed and recorded with many of the most important musicians and composers of our time from Benjamin Britten onwards. It will be an honour to continue this tradition while also developing new, exciting projects and artistic partnerships. 
I am very grateful to Kings Place for their support to me in developing my first London series with the ECO at this special and innovative venue. Joining the orchestra and myself in the 2016/17 season will be some of the most interesting artists performing today – pianist and conductor Christian Zacharias, violinists Vilde Frang, Anthony Marwood and  Daniel Hope, tenor Mark Padmore, cellist Nicolas Altstaedt and trumpeter Alison Balsom. 

I’m incredibly fortunate as a musician to have a diverse career that allows me to perform as soloist with orchestra, collaborate in chamber music and also to work closely with composers. I’m very excited to be able to combine these three elements as Artistic Director of the ECO.  Certainly there will be chamber music in each programme, something that is at the very essence of this special orchestra. I also very much look forward to working closely with composers, again something that is at the heart of the orchestra’s history. To begin with in my opening season,  following the recent loss of one our most important and beloved composers, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, there will be a concert to celebrate his life and music, which will be presented by Tom Service. I’m honoured that we will be joined by composers Oliver Knussen, Thomas Larcher, James Macmillan, Sally Beamish, David and Colin Matthews with some new pieces especially written for the occasion. 

The ECO also has a tradition of championing young talent and I’m delighted to continue this in a new partnership with the Royal Academy of Music. This close association will support the endeavour of the Academy to keep the walls between music education and the profession as porous as possible while making it possible for ECO to mentor and nurture emerging young players as they approach the end of their studies and embark on performing careers. 

Finally I would like to thank Quintin Ballardie and the ECO Charitable Trust for all their help and advice. The ECO has been at the forefront of music making all over the world for the last 56 years and the responsibility to continue this incredible tradition is something I take very seriously.


  • Rodney Friend says:

    Wow – old Quintin is still going at 87 !

    • Don Ciccio says:

      Hello Mr. Friend!

      Are you by any chance one of Constantin Silvestri’s concertmasters in Bournemouth?

      Thank you!

  • Guillermo says:

    This a sad state of affairs and I hope it is not the beginning of the demise of a once prominent orchestra.

    Call the ECO office and you will find there is nobody there to even answer the phone.

    Mr Friend made a good point, in that Ballardie has not really been at the helm for a long time. It was Pauline Gilbertson who has the soul and motor of the ECO for many years and it is thanks to her that the ECO has kept their special status within the UK and indeed the world. Ask any of the players – all will agree.

    But when push came to shove Ballardie showed her the door, and now all they have is Ballardie and the fact there is not a real administration team in place shows that in this manner an orchestra such as ECO has a very limited future, regardless of who is appointed Artistic Director. What adds insult to injury is that Ballardie would rather appoint Lawrence Power before actually giving Gilbertson her due authority which she has more than earned after many, many years of unstinting service to the ECO. But anybody who knows Ballardie knows that this is what he is like.

    This is the same old story of one man trying to be bigger than a whole institution and caring more about his own legacy than preserving that of one of the leading chamber orchestras of our times.

    Rather sad……

  • Michael Turner says:

    Let’s give Lawrence Power a chance before we rush to judge this appointment! He’s an inspiring musician and a very generous and modest man. The ECO made its reputation through wonderful string players, and there is no one better in the country playing viola AND violin than Lawrence.
    It’s an intriguing and surprising development by the ECO, but it will be good to watch.

  • will says:

    This is a total misunderstanding. In the words of Mr Ballardie himself, Lawrence Power has been appointed “Artistic Director of our( sic) English Chamber Orchestra Charitable Trust.” Not quite the same thing as being Artistic Director of the English Chamber Orchestra.

  • Adrian says:

    I agree, we must give Lawrence Power a chance. He is certainly one of the finest viola players around and continues in the ECO tradition: I well remember Quintin Ballardie’s fine rendition of the Telemann Viola Concerto with the ECO in East Sheen Parish Church.

    English Chamber Orchestra / English Chamber Orchestra Charitable Trust / English Chamber Orchestra Music Society – it is all very confusing. The London concerts always used to be supported by the English Chamber Orchestra Music Society, Patron HRH The Prince of Wales.

    Perhaps the orchestra is changing its name to coincide with the new artistic director?

    It is such a shame about the ECO office, especially at this exciting time. A phone would never have gone unanswered in the days of Pauline Gilbertson; another arts organisation will doubtless be the richer for the ECO’s loss.

  • Andrew Thorpe says:

    Good to see the ECO is still going strong.I remember the concerts with Raymond Leppard in London and value the orchestra’s work with the finest musicians.