Melbourne Chamber Orchestra

Melbourne Chamber Orchestra remains the heart of chamber music in Australia’s chamber music capital. Bringing together our city’s finest chamber musicians in one ensemble, MCO captivates audiences with its world-class artistry, commitment to excellence and passionate performances.

For over 30 years, the orchestra has created a distinctive orchestral practice, with a collegial ethos, exploratory programming, and ambitious regional touring. The Artistic Director is the respected Australian violinist, chamber musician and artistic leader Sophie Rowell. In up to 60 performances and events each season, MCO brings together the state’s most exciting chamber musicians to create music with uncompromising artistic quality, impressive finesse and extraordinary passion.

A performance by MCO conjures both the intimacy and detail of chamber music and the grandeur and spectacle of orchestral music. MCO reinvents itself as chamber music ensembles and small orchestras. Through its programming, MCO expands the potential of the chamber orchestra, bringing new musical possibilities to the public. The orchestra performs music from before Bach to tomorrow, opening vibrant windows on our musical heritage while taking orchestral music into the future. The orchestra has commissioned over 100 new works and arrangements to champion contemporary composition and diversify the orchestral repertoire.


The original name Melbourne Chamber Orchestra was owned by Paul Coppens who also had the Melbourne Philharmonic orchestra. The orchestra's name passed through the hands of Spiros Rantos, Jeff Crellin, William Hennessy and Sophie Rowell. In the early 1990s artistic director and conductor Spiros Rantos created Rantos Collegium. At the same time he was leading Paul Coppens' Melbourne Philharmonic Orchestra in performances with Rudolf Nureyev (his last tour before he died). Paul passed the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra title to Rantos which was used on a tour in South Korea as part of Keating's initiative to "open-up" relations with far East countries.

In 1995 Jeff Kennett cut down the subsidy to the orchestra to a tenth of what it was receiving since incorporation which forced a to stop activities. In 1996 Spiros took up a position at then University of Queensland.

In the meantime Jeff Crellin founded Australia Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra in the 1990s. It changed its name to Melbourne Chamber Orchestra in 2009 when William Hennessy became director.

Melbourne Chamber Orchestra is featured on the following titles

Works for String Orchestra

17 years after the release to wide critical acclaim of David Joseph’s album Selected Works Volume 2. Now, Works for String Orchestra presents previously un-released recordings gloriously remastered for this new album.

Performer: ensemble

Members of Melbourne Chamber Orchestra

Spiros Rantos

Spiros Rantos was the founder, artistic director and conductor of the Rantos Collegium and the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra, and has taught at the Victorian College of the Arts, the University of Southern Queensland and University of Melbourne from 1996 to 2009 he was senior Lecturer at UQ School of Music.