About WCO

The Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, led by Maestro Andrew Sewell, is a vibrant and thriving professional orchestra dedicated to connecting its audiences to the power of music.  The WCO performs approximately 25 concerts per year, including Concerts on the Square®, Masterworks, Holiday Pops, Handel's Messiah, Youth Concerts, and other performances across the state.  With a core orchestra of 34 musicians, an established $10 million endowment, and a permanent home in Overture Center for the Arts magnificent Capitol Theater, WCO is one of the finest chamber orchestras in the country.

WCO Orchestra

What is a Chamber Orchestra?    

A chamber orchestra is a group of approximately 25 to 40 musicians. It is larger than a quartet and smaller than a symphony orchestra (approximately 100).

Given the modest number of musicians in a chamber orchestra, the sound of each musician is more “exposed” than in a larger ensemble.  Thus, the challenge and opportunity of a chamber orchestra is to fill each seat with a musician of soloist quality.  Each player’s attention to detail, clarity of line, and personal energy is evident. The overall effect for listeners is a sound that is clean, fresh, intimate, and compelling.

Chamber orchestras precede the modern-day symphony.  There is a wealth of repertoire written for chamber orchestras.  Virtually all orchestral music of both the Baroque and Classical periods (approximately 1600 to 1825) was written for chamber orchestras. Prominent composers of these periods include Vivaldi, Bach, Handel, Mozart, and Haydn. During the 19th century, when orchestras swelled in size to perform symphonic works of the Romantic period, composers such as Saint-Saens, Brahms, and Dvorak continued to write chamber works.  Many 20th-century composers, including Stravinsky, Schoenberg, Villa Lobos, Bartok, and Copland, as well as many others, produced work for chamber orchestras.