The Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra originated in April of 1984 under the original name of the Musicians of the Cloister. This name was in reference to the medieval cloister garden of the Trinity Episcopal Church where the orchestra would play its early concerts. The orchestra would then become incorporated in March of 1985 and in turn would change to its current name of the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra in March, 1987.
Video of Angela Brown performing with the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra
In its early years, the orchestra would be modeled after one of the most highly regarded chamber orchestras in the world, the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields of London. The leadership of the ICO’s founder David Urness would prove this modeling to be successful as interest in the orchestra would continue to grow. The original members of the ICO were primarily recruited from a pool of local freelance musicians who were not already employed by the other prominent orchestra in Indianapolis, The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. Many of these freelance musicians were trained in the prestigious music program at Indiana University.
The Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra is a non-profit corporation which relies on its operating revenue through its own performances, as well as donations from individuals, corporations, and foundations. Vigorous support from the local community of music lovers, who understand the great level of importance of the chamber orchestra to the local art community, are at the center of successful fundraising efforts. The orchestra’s offices are located on the Butler University campus, and the orchestra benefits from a great deal of support from the local Butler community.
The initial subscription series took place in the fall of 1985 on the Mainstage of the Indiana Repertory Theatre. World renowned pianist, Menahem Pressler, would be the highlight of the first concert as with his soloist performance. The concert series would then move as the beginning of the 1986 – 1987 series was held at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. The orchestra would then perform its 1988 – 1989 series at Clowes Memorial Hall at Butler University, where it would find its home for the remainder of its six-concert subscription series.
The orchestra consists of thirty-five professional musicians, all highly trained professionals who are chosen through an audition process to be members of the orchestra. Many of the musicians in the orchestra are professors in secondary education, and teach as well as hold private studios. With so many of the orchestra’s members being from an academic background, music education and outreach is of upmost importance to the orchestra. Because of this interest in life-long learning, many educational programs are offered by the orchestra. Some of these programs include open dress rehearsals, master classes, residencies, and Meet the Artist sessions.
In 2004, the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra would continue to enhance its outreach efforts, and particularly those towards youth, by its merger with the Indianapolis Youth Wind Ensemble. This group consists of a talented ensemble of youth from local high school and middle school music programs, with an audition process required to join. There are approximately 30 private and public school represented in the Ensemble from many communities in the Central Indiana area.
The ICO’s musical focus is that composed specifically for small orchestra groups. This is featured through an annual concert series of masterworks from four centuries of music specifically composed for that of a small orchestra. The orchestra also focuses on performing a selection of music that most audiences have not had the opportunity to hear performed by a live group. The concert series features internationally known artists, as well as exceptional local talent, and aspiring young soloists.