The Chamber Orchestra of Europe (COE), established in 1981, is administratively based in London. The orchestra comprises about 60 members coming from across Europe. The players pursue parallel careers as international soloists, members of eminent chamber groups, and as tutors and professors of music. The orchestra receives substantial support from the European Commission and the Gatsby Charitable Foundation; they have no single home resident hall and no appointed resident conductor.
The idea for the COE came from musicians in the European Community Youth Orchestra, from members who were past the age limit for the ECYO and who wanted to continue working together in a chamber orchestra context. The founding members included the oboist Douglas Boyd, who served as the COE's principal oboist from 1981 to 2002. Over the years the COE has developed strong relationships with Claudio Abbado, Bernard Haitink and Nikolaus Harnoncourt, together with Thomas Adès, Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Emanuel Ax, Lisa Batiashvili, Paavo Berglund, Herbert Blomstedt, Semyon Bychkov, Renaud and Gautier Capuçon, Ivan Fischer, Thomas Hengelbrock, Vladimir Jurowski, Leonidas Kavakos, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Sir Roger Norrington, Sakari Oramo, Maria João Pires, András Schiff and Mitsuko Uchida.