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 Gatsby Charitable Foundation and the Underwood Trust; 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 the late Nikolaus Harnoncourt, together with Thomas Adès, Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Emanuel Ax, Lisa Batiashvili, Joshua Bell, the late Paavo Berglund, Renaud Capuçon and Gautier Capuçon, Isabelle Faust, Janine Jansen, Vladimir Jurowski, Leonidas Kavakos, Radu Lupu, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Sakari Oramo, Murray Perahia, Maria João Pires, Sir András Schiff and Rolando Villazon.