The MCO Academy

About the MCO Academy

„The MCO Academy is both catalyst and inspiration for a new generation of professional musicians, students who gain insight into the different facets of Mahler Chamber Orchestra through their work with the orchestra’s musicians. With its innovative structure, international identity and joyful music making at the highest level, the MCO – together with Orchesterzentrum l NRW and further partners – enriches the creative and diverse cultural landscape of North Rhine‐Westphalia through this unique and forward‐looking educational model."

Isabel Pfeiffer‐Poensgen
Minister of Culture and Science, German Federal State of North Rhine‐Westphalia


In 2009, the Mahler Chamber Orchestra (MCO) and the Orchesterzentrum|NRW established a collaboration: The MCO Academy, a training program for orchestra musicians, was born.

Participants of the academy have the unique opportunity to get into a close exchange with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, their musicians, and with the other international Academy participants. By sharing music collectively, or attending workshops and seminars, they develop a modern understanding of the musician's profession in the 21st century.

The heart of the MCO Academy is the annual orchestra project, for which the students need to audition. Under the direction of renowned conductors, the participants rehearse and perform together as part of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra at the Konzerthaus Dortmund, the Philharmonie Essen and the Philharmonie Cologne.

The philosophy of the MCO is, however, also to convey music not only through concerts, but also through commitment beyond the stage. For this reason, the MCO Academy also offers chamber music workshops, tutorials, career talks, and encounters with internationally renowned soloists and conductors, as well as a mentoring program, in which the students are given an exchange on professional challenges and individual coaching from the MCO lecturers.

The MCO Academy is supported by the Ministry for Culture and Science of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia.


Orchestra projects

A central part of the MCO Academy is the annual rehearsal and concert phase with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra under the direction of renowned conductors. The concert programs are always selected precisely for the objectives and needs of the MCO Academy. Conductors, who have already conducted concerts of the MCO Academy, include Daniel Harding, Ton Koopman, Pierre Boulez, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Pablo Heras-Casado, Peter Eötvös and Heinz Holliger.

Chamber music

The orchestra projects of the MCO Academy are supplemented by chamber music workshops and concerts in smaller ensembles. The approach of performing music collectively, which is a vital attitude shared between the MCO musicians, can be conveyed intensively to the students by the MCO coaches in chamber music rehearsals.

Coachings, workshops and networking

Additional programs within the MCO Academy include workshops on subjects such as ensemble management, audience development, music education or self-marketing. These lessons are offered regularly and independently of the orchestral project. In addition, the students attend sit-in rehearsals, in which the participants sit in the midst of the MCO during rehearsals without playing themselves, to share the musical interaction in the orchestra as well as to observate, listen and experience the ensemble play.

The range of offers is completed by individual talks, coachings and mentoring sessions with MCO musicians, as well as meetings with students from other international institutions as a platform for the expansion of the own artistic network.

Information about the MCO Academy can also be found on the website of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra.



The MCO Academy was founded by two institutions:

  • Mahler Chamber Orchestra
  • Orchesterzentrum|NRW

Due to the great success of the MCO Academy there are now other participating institutions:

  • JONC Jove Orquestra Nacional de Catalunya
  • RNCM, Royal Northern College of Music
  • ANAM, Australian National Academy of Music
  • FJC, Filarmónica Joven de Colombia