To create and perform chamber orchestra repertoire at the highest artistic level possible for Manitobans, for Canadians, and for international audiences.

the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra’s artistic mission statement


MCO Music Director Anne Manson
introduces the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra!

A brief history of
the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra

The MCO is “Canada’s tiny, perfect chamber orchestra” (Toronto Star).

It has toured widely, commissions often, embraces a diverse repertoire, and collaborates regularly with the world’s leading soloists, from James Ehnes to Measha Brueggergosman.

The orchestra, boasting a roster of some of the finest orchestral musicians in Canada, has been praised for its “satiny sound … dynamic subtlety, and an impeccable sense of ensemble” (Ottawa Citizen) and called “an excellent string ensemble con ducted with crispness and verve by Anne Manson” (San Francisco Chronicle).

Established in 1972, the MCO presents nine concerts annually in Winnipeg, most of which feature guest soloists, and all of which present an accessible, eclectic repertoire ranging from the mega-hits of the common practice tradition to exciting new premieres. The rest of its programming energies are devoted to an extensive program of touring, recording, and outreach.

In 1995, the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra became the first North American orchestra to release a record with Sweden’s prestigious BIS label. Since then it has recorded nine albums, two of which have earned JUNO nominations (So Much To Tell with Measha Brueggergosman and Troubadour & the Nightingale with Isabel Bayrakdarian). Its 2013 recording of Philip Glass music has enjoyed international acclaim, and its 2018 release of Mirage? Concertos for Percussion with percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie has enjoyed near unanimous praise from critics, with reviews continuing to emerge.

The MCO’s first international tour was of Italy in 1999. Since then, highlight tour appearances include performing with Isabel Bayrakdarian at Carnegie Hall in 2008. Another highlight was its ten-concert Western Canada tour in 2009 with Dame Evelyn Glennie, with whom it recorded an album and again toured in 2016. In its 2018/19 season, the MCO tours the Maritimes and proudly continues its collaboration with soprano Measha Brueggergosman, the MCO’s guest artist-in-residence. In addition to concerts with other leading soloists, season highlights include premieres of new works by Canadian composers Vivian Fung and Kevin Lau.

Notable among ongoing outreach initiatives is the ‘Fiddlers on the Loose’ ensemble, taking live music to remote parts of the province to work with and play for youth and families.

The MCO operates on an annual budget of about $1 million, and has worked hard to maintain a balanced budget for over two decades and to build an endowment for the future. It has nearly doubled the budget in the past ten years, helping to support its touring, recording, and outreach program.