The ARCO Chamber Orchestra was founded in 1989 by Levon Ambartsumian at the world-renowned Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory, where he served as Professor of Violin. Among its handpicked charter members were a few instructors, some of his students, and several recent graduates from the Conservatory. Almost immediately ARCO performances throughout Europe drew the kind of high critical praise and enthusiastic audience responses. The international acclaim grew in subsequent years, following ARCO's concert tours in Italy, Spain, Germany, Romania, France and Korea.
In 1995, Levon Ambartsumian joined the University of Georgia's School of Music as the Franklin Professor of Violin, while remaining the artistic director and conductor of ARCO. Because he was able to bring some of his students to America with him, the home base of the orchestra shifted to this hemisphere, where the ensemble has now become a talented international blend of musicians. In 2001 ARCO has made a New York premiere in Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, followed by invitation to come back there every year.
While ARCO Chamber Orchestra places special importance on the performance of Russian and contemporary music, the ensemble has a diverse repertoire, which includes standard chamber orchestra literature, showpieces, and world premiers. ARCO has released several CD's with music by Vivaldi, Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich, Vasks, Bronner, and Nielson.