Musica Viva Chamber Orchestra
• Founded 1978
Often appears with
The Musica Viva Chamber Orchestra of Moscow is among Russia's leading small orchestral ensembles. The group has offered consistently imaginative programming, introducing obscure Western works to Russian audiences and performing a considerable amount of new music. The orchestra has gone by various names: Musica Viva Chamber Orchestra, Musica Viva, Musica Viva Symphony Orchestra, and Musica Viva Moscow Chamber Orchestra, among others.
The group can trace its roots to 1978, when conductor Viktor Kornachev, also a violinist, formed a group of nine players who had recently graduated from music schools in the Moscow area. The group succeeded and grew, and by 1988, when Kornachev was succeeded by Alexander Rudin, it has become a chamber orchestra that could handle music of various eras and intended for ensembles of various sizes. Rudin gave the group the Musica Viva name, Latin for Living Music, and he has remained conductor for three decades, during which the orchestra has welcomed guest conductors from Russia and abroad including Vladimir Jurowski, Christopher Hogwood, and Roger Norrington. At the center of Musica Viva's efforts have been distinctive concert series. One, called "Masterpieces & Premieres," pairs familiar repertory works with lesser-known material, both old and new. Musica Viva has performed the world premieres of works by Valentin Silvestrov, Arvo Pärt, and Aulis Sallinen, among others. The group has also given the Russian premieres of 18th century works previously known only to Western audiences, by, for example, Karl Ditters von Dittersdorf, Domenico Cimarosa, and Jan Ladislav Dussek. In 2011, the orchestra began a "Silver Classics" series, devoted to music that was well known in its own day but was gradually forgotten.
As the orchestra's reputation and resources have grown, it has become involved in performances and recordings of large-scale choral works and operas; top international singers including Vivica Genaux, Susan Graham, and Franco Fagioli have appeared with the orchestra. The group has toured in India and the Far East as well as Europe. Musica Viva has recorded for various labels including Melodiya, Fuga Libera, and Toccata Classics, and in 2019 it released an album of symphonies by Johann Stamitz on the Naxos label.