Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester
The Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester (GMJO) was founded in Vienna in 1986/87 on the initiative of Claudio Abbado. Today it is regarded as the world’s leading youth orchestra. It was awarded by the European Cultural Foundation in 2007, and it is under the patronage of the Council of Europe.
As well as supporting young musicians and their work, Abbado was keen to encourage the music making of young Austrian musicians together with colleagues from the then socialist republics of Czechoslovakia and Hungary. As a consequence, the GMJO became the first international youth orchestra to hold open auditions in the countries of the former Eastern Bloc. In 1992, the GMJO opened up to musicians aged up to 26 from all over Europe.
At the annual auditions that take place all over Europe, a jury consisting of professional orchestra musicians - who are also responsible for the preparation of the orchestra for its tours - selects among more than 2000 applicants. The GMJO tour repertoire ranges from classical to contemporary music with the emphasis on the great symphonic works of the Romantic and late Romantic periods. Its high artistic level and international success have prompted many leading conductors and soloists to perform with the GMJO, amongst them conductors from Claudio Abbado to Franz Welser-Möst and soloists from Martha Argerich to Frank Peter Zimmermann.
The GMJO has been a regular guest at the most prestigious concert halls and festivals for many years, such as the Musikverein Vienna, Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Suntory Hall Tokyo, Salzburg Festival, Edinburgh International Festival, BBC Proms, Semperoper Dresden, and Lucerne Festival.
Many former members of the GMJO are now members of leading European orchestras, some of them in principal positions. In 2012, an intensive partnership with the renowned Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden was announced which includes concerts and projects involving members of both orchestras.
The Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester was appointed “Ambassador UNICEF Austria” on the occasion of its 25th anniversary.