Founded in 1991, the orchestra, comprised of some of Russia's finest young string players, has carved a niche for itself under the creative baton of its founder and music director Misha Rachlevsky. Whether it is the highly-acclaimed CDs or its mesmerizing concerts, Chamber Orchestra Kremlin's warmth and high energy create addictive performances that stay with listeners long after the last note has been played.
About half of nearly 2,000 concerts the orchestra has performed to date have taken place in Moscow, the rest were played on tours in 25 countries in North and South America, Europe and the Far East. The orchestra's discography of over 30 CDs has received widespread international acclaim, such as the Diapason d'Or award in France, Critics Choice in London's Gramophone, Critics Choice in The New York Times, and Record of the Year award in Hong Kong.
The signature quality of the orchestra is the depth and variety of its repertoire -- over 1000 compositions from early baroque to works written on commission from Misha Rachlevsky and the orchestra by composers from Russia, Europe and the USA. The orchestra prides itself in offering interesting and often unique programs, not only for its home audience, but on tour as well.
From Frankfurter Allgemeine, summarizing its review of the orchestra's debut at Frankfurt's Alte Oper: "The evening with this ensemble, which boasts to be made up of Moscow's best musicians, completely eliminated any doubts with regard to this statement."
Abour personnel rotation in the orchestra
In case you’re wondering, and we’re quite sure you are, since we get this question a lot. The average age of the musicians is under 30, and, yet, Chamber Orchestra Kremlin in the ‘16-’17 season is celebrating its 25th anniversary! No, there are no age restrictions of any kind, but when there is an opening, more often than not, it is won by a young musician.
Kremlin auditions attract dozens of highly qualified applicants, as it is one of the most desired places to work for the Russian string player. The selection process differs from most other formations: the auditions are not held at any particular date but continue for an indefinite period of time, until the right person is found, and then a two-phase probation period begins.
There are various reasons for the emergence of an opening – starting a family, relocating to another country (there are "graduates" of COK in England, Germany, Spain, Portugal, USA, Canada, and Brazil), or moving to another job, be it an established string quartet or a principal position with another Russian orchestra. On a rare occasion musician can be let go – when the anticipated potential goes unrealized.
Thanks to YouTube, all the questions and doubts (e.g. "This was such a wonderful sound... what will happen, when some of the members are new?”) can be convincingly answered. Indeed, this comparison is easy to make. And at times a slight change in personnel can be very good indeed, as it allows the reworking of compositions in the standard repertoire, rejuvenating those works with a combination of ‘experience’ and ‘new blood’.
The one constant of Chamber Orchestra Kremlin’s music-making, of course, is its founder and music director, Misha Rachlevsky. His take on the situation makes it all very clear: “When we talk about musicians of professional standards - instrumentalists, singers or conductors - the sound they produce is the sound they have inside of their heads. That is first and foremost. Then, instrumentalists and singers practice to match what they hear inside with what they physically produce, and conductors select the appropriate musicians, work with them in rehearsals, and inspire at concerts".