• Founded 1991
Often appears with
Greece's Armonia Atenea is one of the few major orchestras to perform on both modern and period instruments. The group has been affiliated with the Friends of Music Society in Athens and has used the names Athens Camerata and Friends of Music Orchestra. Armonia Atenea is the name used in connection with international commitments, of which the orchestra has had many.
The orchestra was founded in 1991 by the Friends of Music as a resident group for the city's new Megaron Concert Hall; in the 2010s it divided its concert activities between the Megaron and Athens' Onassis Cultural Center. The group's artistic director is Greek conductor and pianist George Petrou, who has developed specialties in Baroque opera and contemporary music. Its former artistic directors include Alexander Myrat, Christopher Warren-Green, and Sir Neville Marriner; the orchestra's list of external collaborators is equally international, including Fabio Biondi, Thomas Hengelbrock, Philippe Entremont, Christopher Hogwood, Helmuth Rilling, Heinrich Schiff, Stephen Kovacevich, Mstislav Rostropovich, and Yehudi Menuhin, as well as soloists Martha Argerich, Yuri Bashmet, Joshua Bell, Max Emanuel Cencic, Karina Gauvin, Vivica Genaux, Leonidas Kavakos, Julia Lezhneva, Radu Lupu, and Mischa Maisky.
In addition to its consistent Athens concert schedule, Armonia Atenea has appeared at the Musikverein in Vienna, the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, the Opera Royal Versailles, the Concertgebouw, the Salle Pleyel, the Innsbruck Summer festival of Early Music, and the Versailles Festival. Armonia Atenea's recordings have appeared on Decca, Sony Classical, EMI Classics, MDG, ECM, and other top labels and have won several major awards. Many of its recordings have focused on Baroque opera and ballet; Petrou has specialized in little-known works such as pasticcios and on unusual versions. The orchestra has backed "Baroque Divas" Sonia Prina, Romina Basso, Vivica Genaux, and Mary-Ellen Nesi in a selection of Baroque arias on an album of that title, following it up with the album Rokoko, featuring countertenor Max Emanuel Cencic. In 2018 it collaborated with Cencic once again for an album of arias by Nicola Porpora. The grand sponsor of Armonia Atenea is the Onassis Foundation.