114 New Strings for the Gasteig: Get to Know the Munich Chamber Orchestra

114 New Strings for the Gasteig: Get to Know the Munich Chamber Orchestra In the car workshop in HP8 and soon on the big stage of the Isarphilharmonie: The Munich Chamber Orchestra likes to experiment with new spaces – here together with the Double Drums. Florian Ganslmeier

Do you know the Munich Chamber Orchestra (Münchener Kammerorchester, or MKO)? After the Gasteig’s renovation, the orchestra will move into and become a permanent institution of Munich’s premiere arts centre. Forever curious, we’ve sounded out the orchestra and have found a lot to like.

Spirit of adventure
Since its foundation in 1950 and for a long time based at the headquarters of Siemens, the MKO has developed into a versatile chamber orchestra of international repute. Besides its classical repertoire, the string orchestra is specialised in contemporary music and has commissioned numerous compositions as well as both performing and recording world premieres.

Cocktail music: The MKO with soprano Hanna-Elisabeth Müller at Schumann's Bar © Florian Ganslmeier

Out of the box
The MKO’s concert schedule sees it perform at a wide range of different locations: from its concert series in the Prinzregenten Theater to clubbing with the Munich Philharmonic; from museums and art galleries like the Pinakothek der Moderne, the Haus der Kunst and the Villa Stuck Museum to the grand State Opera.

It’s all about people
Proximity to the audience and personal encounters are a cornerstone of the MKO’s philosophy, which strives to rediscover music and touch the audience both on its own and together with others.
Take a look at the MKO’s music education projects here.

A knack for finances
As an independent orchestra, the MKO must carefully manage its finances. Public funding from state and city covers about 60 per cent of the budget, with the remaining 40 percent coming from tours, guest performances and the orchestra’s own concerts. The MKO members themselves share the orchestra’s financial risk, with their salaries including a share of the profits.

Crisis calls for creativity
During the lockdown, which also impacted the arts and cultural institutions, the MKO was quick to launch new performance formats, such as the »MKOdelivery« music delivery service, which allowed people to order performances into their homes. Duo formations that compiled with the hygiene regulations then »delivered« their live performances to backyards, gardens or staircases.

Neighbourhood networking
Sharing its music with its immediate neighbours is also close to the ensemble’s heart. In a series of music videos titled »In The Neighborhood«, it brings chamber music to places not normally associated with live music: the hairdresser’s, the bridal fashion shop, the swimming pool, the cocktail bar, the crime bookshop or the car repair shop next door to Gasteig HP8. Watch all episodes

Committed to music education: Principal conductor Clemens Schuldt at children's workshop © Florian Ganslmeier

Social commitment
The arts are a vital element of social life, and the MKO is committed to promoting them. In a range of workshop, project and performance formats aimed at encouraging cultural awareness, it introduces children, youngsters and adults alike to various creative activities. The orchestra’s international line-up itself exemplifies the global, intercultural community, consisting of 28 string players from ten different countries and four continents: Australia, America, Europe and Asia.

Want to know more?
Visit the MKO’s website for its concert schedule as well as further information about the Munich Chamber Orchestra. For MKO projects in the Isarphilharmonie and in Gasteig HP8, see here. You can also read an interview with Florian Ganslmeier, the MKO’s Managing Director, in which he talks about the orchestra’s future in the Gasteig. Scheduled to move into the Gasteig after its renovation, the MKO is already providing lively input in Gasteig HP8.

Text: Maria Zimmerer
Photos: Florian Ganslmeier

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